Lockdown in Gütersloh district
On Tuesday (June 23), North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister President (chief minister) Armin Laschet announced an initially one-week lockdown for the Gütersloh district until June 30. The reason for this is the massive outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Germany’s leading meat production plant run by the Tönnies company in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in the district of Gütersloh, North Rhine-Westphalia. The Tönnies facilities have been closed after hundreds of employees tested positive for coronavirus on June 17. Until today more than 1,600 of total 7,000 employees of Tönnies tested positive. All Tönnies employees and their relatives are in quarantine in the Gütersloh district. Immediately, the responsible politicians in Gütersloh district decided to close all schools and day care centers until the summer holidays to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the area.
The Beckhoff Automation headquarters in Verl is also located in the district of Gütersloh. Further, the company maintains production sites in the towns of Gütersloh-Avenwedde and Herzebrock, which are also located in the district of Gütersloh. Fortunately, Beckhoff Automation operations are not affected in a substantial way!
“We would like to report to our customers, partners and also to the citizens of the Gütersloh district that Beckhoff took extensive safety measures long before and independently of the current local lockdown, in order both to protect the health of our employees and to maintain our production operation at 100 percent,” explains managing owner Hans Beckhoff. The company has thus been able to successfully prevent infections within the company and has always been completely functional since the first outbreak of the new coronavirus in Germany at the end of February.
“Particularly since the district of Gütersloh, the home region of our company, is now strongly affected by the pandemic, I would like to emphasize once again that we are doing everything possible to stem the further spread of the virus. So far, no infections have occurred in our company. We are currently testing the entire staff. 320 employees have already been tested for COVID-19, all completely negative. A further 1,000 production employees currently working at the sites in the Gütersloh district are to be tested immediately. This will be followed onwards by tests of all our colleagues who have already been working in their home office since March, or again since last Wednesday, within the context of the safety measures we have taken,” says Hans Beckhoff.
Despite the strict temporal and spatial separation of production operations through a two-shift system and the relocation of at least 80 percent of all office workstations to the home office, Beckhoff is 100 percent available to its customers in every respect. “In our production we handle the usual volume, there are no restrictions. All customer orders are implemented as planned and made available at the usual delivery times,” confirms Hans Beckhoff. Sales, support and service are also fully operational and are not subject to any COVID-19-related restrictions. “Every customer can reach his usual contact person under the known contact details,” says Hans Beckhoff.
The company will also continue development projects and research activities as usual, as Hans Beckhoff reports: “These are very unusual times, which we must counter with consistent measures and responsible action. The fact that we are able to do this as a company has already been proven in the first phase of the pandemic since March”. It was only at the beginning of June that Beckhoff decided to cautiously reduce the COVID-19 safety measures, as at that time there were signs that the general incidence of infection had levelled off. Since last Wednesday, Beckhoff Automation in Verl, Avenwedde and Herzebrock is now back in all protective measures taken at the end of March.
“In addition to the strict hygiene rules, home office and the separate two or three-shift system in production, which enables us to narrow down clearly defined infection groups, we also rely on the sense of responsibility of our colleagues. I am sure that all Beckhoff employees will comply with all social distancing rules in their private lives as well the limiting of private travel. Business trips are only permitted in very justified exceptional cases, and even the reception of external visitors here at the Verl site is limited to absolutely necessary exceptions,” says Hans Beckhoff, explaining his package of measures.
Only the Beckhoff locations in the Gütersloh district of Germany are affected by the measures mentioned. All other Beckhoff Automation subsidiaries and offices in Germany and abroad are not affected by the current coronavirus outbreak at Tönnies and operate at full service within the scope of the regionally applicable official regulations.