Coronavirus: Berlin orders closure of bars, museums and gyms
Berlin's government has ordered bars, clubs, cinemas and sports facilities to close as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The capital's mayor Michael Müller announced at a press conference on Friday March 13th that all clubs, bars and pubs (known as Kneipen) would have to close up to and including April 19th.
Restaurants can remain open for the time being but tables have to be at least 1.5 metres apart under the regulations.
Initially the order was to kick in next week. But on Saturday the local government announced the closures would take place with immediate effect.
Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, betting shops, amusement arcades and brothels are also no longer allowed to open. Sports activities in public and private facilities are also banned. Swimming pools and fitness studios must therefore close their doors.
In addition, patients in hospitals are no longer allowed to receive visitors - with the exception of those under 16 and the seriously ill.
Events or gatherings with more than 50 people are also not allowed.
The new regulations fall under the Infection Protection Act.
There are currently 216 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Berlin, and more than 4,525 throughout Germany.
On Friday, Berlin, along with other German states, announced that schools and daycare centres (Kitas) for children would be closed from Monday March 16th until after the Easter holidays on April 20th.
Meanwhile, public transport in Berlin is also to be drastically cut back.
'Your safety and health are at stake'
The Berlin Senate has decided on these extra restrictions to public life in the fight to stall the spread of coronavirus.
Müller appealed to residents to behave responsibly.
Müller said: "I ask all Berliners for their understanding. Your safety and your health are at stake."
He said the number of social interactions in the city had to be reduced to "the absolute minimum".
"Everyone will feel restrictions," he said. "But this phase is very important. I ask for solidarity, especially towards elderly people."
Events with more than a thousand people have already been banned in the capital. It's resulted in the closures of theatres, concert halls, museums – and even the famous Berghain club.
The well-known flea market at Mauerpark will also remain closed until April 19th, according to a notice on the website.
Other services, such as the Foreigner's Office, will only be accessible with an appointment.
Public transport in Berlin to continue as much as possible
Meanwhile, Berlin's public transport system, which is run by operator BVG, will continue as much as possible without restrictions, the operator BVG said.
The Berlin Senate Chancellery had initially said on Friday that local public transport would be drastically scaled back.
But it has now been clarified that public transportation will be maintained as long as possible.
However, the BVG has not ruled future restrictions. And it is to be adapted to public demand as more people stay at home so check for updates on the BVG site.
Passengers are being asked to enter the buses in the back door rather than the front to minimise the risk to drivers..
Bundesliga on pause
The German football league on Friday halted first division Bundesliga games with immediate effect over the coronavirus pandemic, the first such suspension since World War II, reported AFP.
"Given the developments of today with new coronavirus infections and suspected cases directly linked to the Bundesliga and the 2nd division, the German Football League has decided at short notice to postpone today's matches," said the league in a statement.