First Poles leave COVID-19 stricken farm in Germany

The first Poles from a German asparagus farm, where a labour quarantine was applied due to a COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, have left the facility. It owes much to the intervention of the Polish consul, the Deutsche Welle (DW) daily reported. However, the arduous quarantine for those who remained on a farm was extended until next week.

COVID-19: Hundreds of Poles forced into quarantine on German farm

Workers on an asparagus farm in the German state of Lower Saxony were put under “labour quarantine” and are unable to leave their place of work due...

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More than 1,000 people work at Thiermann's farm in Lower Saxony, one of the largest asparagus producers in Germany, of which 412 are Polish employees. They accuse the company of not following sanitary rules, reacting to the first cases too late and not informing about the progress of the insulation. People continuing to work on the farm fear for their health, whilst those who refused to work in these conditions had to continue to pay for accommodation.

Due to an outbreak of COVID-19 on the farm, which saw 131 people infected, the remaining employees were put under “labour quarantine”, which is in effect a ban on leaving the living quarters with the exception of the workplace itself. They were not allowed to go out to the stores to buy groceries, while basic hygiene and food products were delivered to them only after a few days of quarantine. When a TV crew wanted to cover this issue, security guards blocked the way and did not let them through.

Owner’s explanation and consul’s reaction

In an interview with the local Kreiszeitung, the farm owner, Heinrich Thiermann, said that after the first case of COVID-19 infection was recorded on April 18, the company was to begin regular testing, and on April 29 and 30, the German Red Cross tested all the employees. Mr Thiermann was also to have said that “quick tests have been made available to all workers from the start of the season, but not all of them wanted to take them.” DW pointed out that the local health authority received a notification of the first COVID-19 infection on the farm six days after it was detected, on April 24.

According to DW, Paweł Jaworski, the Polish Consul General in Hamburg, intervened in the case, meeting with the head of the company Heinrich Thiermann and representatives of the health office.

"At the moment, it seems that a certain trouble spot has been removed and I hope it will stay that way," Mr Jaworski told DW, adding that 30 Poles have already left the farm.

In response, the company of Mr Thiermann took actions aimed at encouraging people to stay on the farm, with a promise to cover their two-week costs of accommodation.

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