Now Laschet already speaks of “preparation for several waves”
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And again Armin Laschet is in need of explanation – indebted himself: The Prime Minister himself raises the question of whether everything in NRW has been handled in accordance with the law. He is preparing his country for further outbreaks of corona.
FFor Armin Laschet (CDU) there could actually be a rare moment of relief. The outbreak of the corona virus in the Gütersloh and Warendorf districts of North Rhine-Westphalia appears to be under control. In the Warendorf area, the number of new infections fell below the critical limit, so the lockdown was lifted on Wednesday. In the Gütersloh region, which is more severely affected, the restrictions still apply as a precaution. The containment measures work in East Westphalia.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s prime minister may not yet take stock of his crisis management, it is too early for that. At least at a press conference on Tuesday, the Christian Democrat dared to praise himself indirectly: “North Rhine-Westphalia came through this crisis well, despite everything.”
A summer break of several weeks would actually begin now, but Laschet remains on alert because of the pandemic. And it was my own fault – again. At most, he wants to treat himself to a few quiet days with the family on Lake Constance, because one thing is clear to him: “We will experience many cases à la Gütersloh. Outbreaks that cannot be calculated beforehand. “
It is doubtful whether the Gütersloh case was really so unexpected. There are some indications that it was ultimately only a matter of time – after all, the meat processor Westfleisch had already had a corona outbreak in May. The state of emergency in East Westphalia for around 650,000 people might not have happened if there had previously been stricter conditions and controls for the meat industry.
Perhaps this would have prevented the outbreak of infection among the employees at the headquarters of the slaughterhouse Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. It has long been known that minimum clearances in some production areas can hardly be maintained and that accommodation for contract workers from subcontractors is sometimes run down and crowded.
There is still a lot to clarify in the Tönnies case, which was also shown by a difficultly irritating statement by Laschet in the approximately one-hour press conference. In front of the journalists, the Christian Democrat wanted to demonstrate maximum distance from the dazzling, influential entrepreneur and long-time supervisory board chairman at Bundesliga soccer club FC Schalke 04 and emphasized: “There is no cooperation with Mr. Tönnies, but it is now decided according to regulatory behavior. The time to cooperate there, which may have been the case in the past, is over. The law is now being strictly followed. “The authorities are also examining concepts for reopening the slaughterhouse -” but this is not being negotiated with individuals, “said Laschet.
The subsequent outrage gave Laschet a quiet start to his short summer break – and instead of the message he had planned to know of no mercy at Tönnies, the only question remained: If “now” with Tönnies “strictly lawful and lawful” procedures are followed then obviously things had to be done differently beforehand. And Laschet was already in serious need of explanation.
The state government demonstrated at the beginning of the week that it could be more restrictive with a general regulation that tightened the regulations for infection protection in all meat factories. According to this, employees nationwide have to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of Labor and Health Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) has been criticizing catastrophic working and living conditions for employees in the meat industry for years. He initiated focus checks in 30 companies with around 17,000 employees between July and September 2019. The occupational health and safety of the regional governments in the country registered almost 9,000 violations, some of them serious, especially in terms of working hours, occupational medicine and the minimum wage. They also came across miserable accommodation conditions.
The report had been known since January of this year. Laumann wanted to increase the pressure on the meat industry. Then the pandemic came. At the beginning of May, Corona broke out among Westfleisch employees in Coesfeld. A little later, Tönnies stated that a general political suspicion was “proven wrong”. He cited several hundred negative Covid 19 test results among his employees as confirmation of the success of his own preventive measures. The company adheres to “law and order,” emphasized Tönnies.
In May, the occupational health and safety of the responsible district government Detmold complained of significant defects during an inspection of the company, because the employees in the area of the slaughter were not wearing mouth and nose protection and the minimum distance was not observed. During a repeated inspection at the end of May, all open points were clarified, the company emphasized.
District administrator Sven-Georg Adenauer (CDU) has lost confidence in Tönnies. The SPD in the district of Gütersloh has accused Adenauer of having touched Tönnies with kid gloves for too long. It is still unclear whether and where there have been omissions. In any case, the district administration has exceeded its exposure limit due to the acute protective measures. “Employees in a state of emergency,” the circle said on Wednesday in a press release. The administration cannot currently offer the usual service in many areas because many employees have to help with the Corona measures.
The Corona outbreak in East Westphalia once again shows the great impact that local problems can have and is immediately testing the crisis management of a state government. According to Gütersloh, there is also the question of whether the country should have intervened earlier and the matter should have been drawn up. Prime Minister Laschet does not see it that way and emphasizes that he will continue to take the time to speak to experts first, that he does not want quick shots for far-reaching decisions such as a lockdown.
Laschet anticipates that the number of infections could increase in autumn. It is about “preparing for several waves”.