Ter Apel penitentiary goes into lockdown after coronavirus outbreak
All of the nearly 450 inmates of the penitentiary in Ter Apel, Groningen have to go into a quarantine after 14 of them tested positive for the coronavirus. RTV Noord reports that a number of guards also contracted the disease
The penitentiary went into full lockdown. The inmates have to quarantine in their cells for at least five days, during which time all of them are tested. The lockdown also mean that prisoners will not be able to see their friends or family members. Relatives of the inmates were informed of the decision on Sunday.
A spokesperson for the prison told NOS that this was “a drastic decision”, but necessary. The prison is trying to find alternatives for prisoners to occupy themselves in the coming days. “We offer the possibility for the prisoners to exercise in their own cells, we are distributing books from the prison library, and prisoners who need extra attention from spiritual counselors will receive it.”
Prison guards appealed to trade union, FNV, and expressed their worries over the potential of a wide-spread coronavirus outbreak occurring in the prison. The union in turn advocated for a better separation of prisoners. “When you have around 70 inmates in close contact with one another then you are asking for problems”, says union leader Ynste Koenen.
The prison Ter Apel houses inmates with a foreign nationality who are residing illegally in the Netherlands, or who will be deported due to the crimes they have committed. Once the prisoners have finished their sentences they will be returned to their country of origin.