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Court overturns local lockdown on German slaughterhouse town

BERLIN — A court in western Germany overturned an emergency lockdown imposed in the town of Guetersloh following a coronavirus outbreak in a slaughterhouse there, ruling that the restrictions were disproportionate.

The ruling, after some 1,500 workers were infected, throws into doubt the system of quick lockdown responses and rapid track-and-trace on which Germany has been relying to move into the second phase of its fight against the pandemic.

After the outbreak, the premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia brought in a week-long lockdown, imposing social distancing on the town of about 100,000 people and closing many cultural institutions to try to stop its spread.

A legal challenge brought by a private individual against the first week of lockdown was rejected.

But when it was extended to run for another week until Tuesday, an entertainments company operating in the district put in a second challenge and the court changed its mind, saying authorities had had time to impose more targeted restrictions.

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