BERLIN (AP) — Renewed lockdown measures in a German region where hundreds of coronavirus cases sprung up at a slaughterhouse and news that the world’s top-ranked tennis player has also been infected provided a stark reminder to Europeans on Tuesday that the pandemic is far from gone.
Meanwhile, Britain, which has recorded the most coronavirus-related deaths in Europe, pressed on with its easing of the lockdown by confirming that restaurants, bars, hair salons and cinemas can reopen on July 4.
By contrast, Germany was reimposing some lockdown restrictions in North Rhine-Westphalia state after more than 1,550 people have tested positive for coronavirus at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck and thousands more workers and family members were put into quarantine to try to halt the outbreak.
On Tuesday, North Rhine-Westphalia Gov. Armin Laschet said people in Guetersloh and parts of a neighboring county will now face the same restrictions that Germany saw in March and April, including curbs on social gatherings and bar closures.
“The purpose is to calm the situation, to expand testing to establish whether or not the virus has spread beyond the employees of Toennies,” Laschet said.
Laschet expressed frustration at the company’s handling of the outbreak, saying authorities had to order Toennies to release the names of its employees.
“The readiness to cooperate could have been greater,” he said.
Union officials have blamed poor working and living conditions that migrant workers faced under a loosely regulated sub-contractor.
Word of Novak Djokovic’s infection again illustrated that there’s little room for complacency in doing what’s necessary to beat back the disease. The world’s number one tennis player, said he and his wife contracted the coronavirus after he played in a series of exhibition matches he organized in Serbia and Croatia with zero social distancing.
The announcement by Djokovic who stands third in men’s tennis history with 17 Grand Slam titles has put into question the wisdom of a full-fledged return of tennis, including the U.S. Open in August.
The Serb tennis star is the fourth player to test positive for the illness after participating in the matches held in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia.
“Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with,” Djokovic said in a statement released Tuesday.
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In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major rollback of lockdown measures that will let millions in England back into pubs, cinemas, churches and hair salons starting July 4. The move came amid strong pressure from businesses to ease social distancing rules.