Gutersloh The first people stand in front of the Carl Miele vocational college at seven o’clock. A few hours later, the queue extends two blocks up to the cemetery. The police keep coming up, asking people over loudspeakers to keep the minimum distances. Only later in the morning does someone come up with the idea of drawing distance lines on the floor.
It is day one of the voluntary mass tests in the Gütersloh district. In the improvised diagnostic center in the city center, citizens have been able to make compromises since Wednesday without registration. Some wait three hours in the sun until it’s their turn. There are hardly any shady spots. At least two older women brought folding chairs with them.
The reasons why people test themselves are different. Someone will soon start a new job and want to know if they can start in the office without hesitation. A family of four doubts whether the planned weekend visit to the grandparents is okay. The majority, however, are worried about their vacation. After Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony also announced this Wednesday that it would temporarily not want to accommodate tourists from the region.
Hardly anyone understands this at the Gütersloh vocational college. “The outbreak has nothing to do with us. We are being held hostage because others have failed, ”says a man who prefers not to read his name in the newspaper. He fears being stigmatized, he says. He had just read on Facebook that cars with Gütersloh license plates had been scratched in a neighboring town. And all because “they screwed up in the meat industry”.
In a slaughterhouse belonging to the Tönnies group, more than 1,550 employees were infected with the corona virus. The authorities had then massively restricted public life in the district of Gütersloh and in the neighboring district of Warendorf. Approximately 640,000 people are affected, for whom stricter contact restrictions now apply again.
A criminal complaint is directed against Clemens Tönnies
With the mass tests, the state government now wants to obtain information about the spread of the virus by the end of the week. Anyone who has had a smear received a slip of paper with a QR code. The user can access the finding online later.
When District Administrator Sven-Georg Adenauer steps in front of the micros at the press conference in the district house in the afternoon, 230 results are already available after 600 smears – all negative. Adenauer calls this a “small glimmer of hope”.
The company’s own security guards are guarding the Tönnies factory in neighboring Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Two police buses also regularly drive off the dirt roads around the site. The authorities apparently fear that someone could reduce his frustration there.
16 criminal complaints have now been received by the public prosecutor’s office in Bielefeld. The authority is investigating suspected negligent bodily harm and violation of the Infection Protection Act. The spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office said that “essentially the accusation was made against persons not mentioned by name” that the necessary measures to protect against mass infections were neglected in the company.
A criminal complaint is also directed against Clemens Tönnies and the three other managing directors of Tönnies Holding: Stefan Gros, Daniel Nottbrock and Andres Ruff. They are accused of violations of hygiene and the inhumane placement of workers in collective accommodations.
The police headquarters in Bielefeld has set up a five-member investigation commission, which is now to support the public prosecutor’s office in its investigations. The spokesman did not want to reveal what data the criminalists evaluate, what they focus on and whether they also talk to employees of the subcontractors. Only the name of the investigative commission is known: the authorities have dubbed it “EK Carne”.
More: What lawyers say about the liability issue in the Tönnies case.