History of pandemic protection measures at Tönnies

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History of pandemic protection measures at Tönnies

Tönnies presented their future housing plan for their employees. Central to the plan is the goal of providing those contract employees who will be hired directly by the company in the future with well-equipped housing that meets a defined standard.


Tönnies informs about the course of the first complete week of operation and the results of the corona test of the employees: In over 7 000 corona tests, 25 were old positive cases and 6 new cases found. As immediate
precaution, Tönnies immediately blocked the access chip for all employees, who tested positive.


Tönnies publishes its Immediate Action Plan for extended pandemic prevention and for modification of the work, living, and animal husbandry arrangements.


Following information from the Occupational Health and Safety Office for the District Government, Tönnies made improvements to the design of some workplaces in the abattoir area. This took place during the night from Thursday to Friday. The area will resume operations in the morning after the improvements and after approval by the district government. A test run will also take place in the butchering area.


Restarting of slaughter activities: The municipality of Rheda-Wiedenbrück informs Tönnies that gradual intakes for slaughtering may resume from Thursday, 16 July. It is thus planned to start the slaughter process in one shift and, under the new regulations of the hygiene plan, to initially produce significantly reduced slaughter capacity.


Restarting of Tillman’s: More employees can return to their workplaces at the Rheda site. The municipality of Rheda-Wiedenbrück approved the restart of the Tillman’s area under compliance with the new hygiene concept.


Continuation of discussion of hygiene plan: During the meeting with the authorities, the hygiene plan which was expanded by Tönnies in accordance with the meeting on 06 July was presented and discussed. The authorities now have a basis to make a new evaluation. Authorities and companies have both committed to do everything required to gradually start up operations.


Partial opening of administration: The municipality of Rheda-Wiedenbrück has lifted the access ban for almost 600 employees in administration. From today, company administration tasks in different areas of the company can be resumed at the site in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The managers then informed their employees. This applies exclusively to employees who are not in quarantine.


Start of discussion of expanded hygiene plan: During constructive conversations, the Tönnies delegation discussed the new, expanded hygiene plan with the relevant authorities. The crisis team of the Tönnies Group has been working on this under significant pressure in the days prior to this. The goal of all parties is the gradual restart of the site. There is not yet an exact schedule for this. However, important common issues are now being discussed and implemented in working groups and on-site meetings.


Financial top-up for reduced working hours: Tönnies has assured all employees, whether employed directly or indirectly, that no-one will suffer personal financial losses through no fault of their own. If individual companies or service providers should face a situation of reduced working hours, Tönnies will provide a top-up to 100%.


New study to the occurrence of infection in Rheda shows: The living situation of the contract workers does not matter for the massive outbreak.

A study led by Professor Melanie Brinkmann (Helmholtz Center for Infection Research), the Heinrich-Pette-Institute, the Leibniz-Institute for experimental virology and the university hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, comes to decisive results. There it says: “The main transmission took place in the dismantling area of ​​the company, in which air is continuously circulated and cooled to ten degrees Celsius. In contrast, housing in shared accommodation did not play a significant role during the analysed phase of the outbreak.

Various currently unknown factors made it possible to transmit the virus partially over a distance of more than eight meters. More informations at


Hygiene plan:
After handover of the conceptual summary on 30/06, the full version of the hygiene plan was today submitted to the relevant authorities.


Correction of results: The district of Gütersloh corrects the number of series tests at Tönnies in Rheda downwards. The new final result shows 6,139 tests and 1,413 positive results.


Scientific findings: The Bonn hygiene specialist Martin Exner announces the first scientific results of his investigations in the works in Rheda.
At a press conference of the district of Gütersloh, he described that the ventilation and cooling systems in the slaughter department keep the aerosols – through which the virus can be spread – in motion.
According to Exner, that is a new risk factor that was previously unknown. The director of the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn
has been researching the causes at Tönnies over the weekend. Link to the video!


Interim result: The mass testing programme on the Tönnies site has ended. 6,139 tests were carried out, to date 5,899 results are available. 4,568 are negative (77.4 percent) and 1,331 positive (22.6 percent). The tests showed that the number of positive results was significantly lower outside of butchering than in this area of operations.


Care of employees: Employees in “work quarantine” start with handing out and delivering boxes of groceries for the Tönnies employees in quarantine.

Technical check: Support with the seven-hour, detailed technical check to determine the cause by the Occupational Safety team of the Detmold District Government, by the public health authorities of the district of Gütersloh, and the Bonn University Clinic in a cooperative atmosphere with our experts.


Production shutdown/support for mobile health centre: Production at Tönnies (In der Mark 2, Rheda-Wiedenbrück) is shut down completely. For a small number of employees from Administration, Logistics and Technology, “work quarantine” was approved. The company supports the district of Gütersloh, the doctors, the Association of Statutory Health Insurance physicians and the Malteser Aid Service in the construction of a mobile health centre at the site in Rheda.


Clinic support: To best support and care for the employees who were admitted to hospital for treatment, Tönnies provided several hospitals and clinics with tablets with interpreting software.


Closure of slaughter operations: Tönnies company management together with the district of Gütersloh jointly agreed on the temporary closure of the slaughter operations at the Rheda site. In agreement with Tönnies, the district of Gütersloh ordered the complete shutdown of the remaining production operations at the site. This is the result of 400 positive results out of 500 tests in one sub-section of production.


Reduction in employees: In view of the increased positive numbers, Tönnies significantly reduced the number of employees in the slaughter department.


Official tests: The district of Gütersloh ordered repeat mass testing for the slaughter department.


Interim result: By 13 June, the company had carried out 1375 of its own tests – of these, 42 were positive.


Reaction to source of infection: Reaction to source of infection: After an increasing number of positive cases were identified by our own test centre and by tests carried out by GPs, measures were intensified. The face mask requirement was then expanded the three-layer face mask across the entire site.


Positive findings: By conducting its own tests, the company can identify two sources of infection. The employees who tested positive are separated, informed and moved to quarantine, together with contact persons.


Own test centre: Tönnies launches its own coronavirus test centre. The employees shall continue to be regularly tested according to their risk. The throat swabs are examined in an accredited independent laboratory.


Interim result: Of around 6400 tests by the district of Gütersloh, only 7 tests were positive.


Interim result: Up until now, 3,252 tests have been evaluated. Of these. 3,249 tests are negative, only three are positive. There is also info on the accommodation checks: In Rheda-Wiedenbrück alone, 280 apartments were checked by the NRW Health Ministry – there were no serious breaches here.


PC on results: As of 13 May, there are NO positive tests at Tönnies. Tönnies communicates these results at a press conference. There are also no positive tests at the other sites.


14-point plan provided: After evaluating the findings following coronavirus outbreaks in other abattoirs, the Tönnies Group prescribes an extensive hygiene concept at their sites to minimise further coronavirus risks. The core element is the risk-based PCR sampling in a dedicated test centre. This 14-point plan supplements the strategy of the past weeks and sets clear rules and responsibilities. Amongst other things, this plan includes the testing of all employees who previously lived in accommodation with more than ten persons and/or were absent from work for more than 96 hours. In addition, standby quarantine housing was set aside for persons with a possible infection.


Start of official mass testing: After numerous infections in several abattoirs, the state of NRW ordered mass testing at all abattoirs – including Tönnies.


Additional risk assessment: The Berufgenossenschaft Nahrungsmittel und Gastgewerbe [Professional Association for Food and Hospitality] publishes a supplement to the risk assessment in the context of SARS-CoV2 Occupational Safety Standards. On the basis of this, Tönnies extends the face mask requirement.


Body temperature scanners: The Group is one of the first companies in the industry in Germany to install a body temperature scanner at the turnstile. This automatically scans employees. If the temperature is above the permitted temperature, the employee is refused entry. He is immediately sent to a doctor to be examined and tested.


Additional canteen facilities: To further rectify the situation in the canteen, additional canteen facilities are installed.


Corona assistance fund: The Tönnies Group sets up a coronavirus assistance fund for the town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The company provides EUR 500,000 as the starting capital.


Offer of mouth protection: All employees receive a protective head cover with face mask to protect themselves and others. Up until now, this was only mandatory for persons with beards or those in high-risk areas of the company. This is extended with immediate effect to transport to and from the company.


Contact ban/system-relevance: Across the country, an extensive contact ban was prescribed. The Federal Office for Information Security classified the company as “system-relevant” [essential]. The Group was requested to continue to work and thus provide the population with meat and sausage products.


“Bist Du gesund?” [Are you healthy?] posters: Large posters at all entrances to the sites asked every employee every day: “Bist Du gesund?” [Are you healthy?] Only those who are healthy should enter the building, otherwise, they should see a doctor.


Closure of restaurants: Restaurants across Germany succumb for the time being – everything is closed.


Clarification: Further clarification of symptoms of the disease within the workforce via the employee app.


Sticker campaign “Proper handwashing”: Stickers with instructions on the correct handwashing techniques were fixed to all mirrors in the company. These stickers were also distributed to take home for employees’ own accommodation.


Closure of schools and nurseries: Public life in NRW, and across Germany, gradually comes to a standstill. Nurseries and schools are among the services closed.


New employee questionnaire/closure of restaurant for external guests: Employees who join the company must, with immediate effect, submit an affidavit on their state of health and their travel activities over the past two weeks. The site restaurant is also temporarily closed for external visitors. It may only be used by employees of the company.


Home-office instruction following the Federal-State agreement: Across the country, standardised guidelines are launched to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Following these, all employees who are also able to work from home are sent to their home-office.


Dealing with persons returning from holiday: Instruction for all employees in the Group who have returned from holiday to initially stay at home and be tested. Of all those returning from holiday, one employee tested positive and was immediately required to quarantine at home.


Publication of FAQ and division of offices: Clarification of the most important questions and answers relating to the coronavirus using the employee app. The group also moved employees from the same specialist area to other office facilities.


Introduction of Corona Hotline: Employees can call the hotline with questions and receive information in their own language


Cancellation of events: In several federal states, events with more than 1000 participants were cancelled.


Division of the canteen: Spatial separation of employees from different production areas (divisions).


Clarification: Multilingual information posters on coronavirus at the company site. Use of the newly introduced multilingual employee app at all sites.