Bavaria threatens full lockdown if residents flout coronavirus restrictions
Bavaria has warned that a full lockdown will be imposed on people in the southern German state if they do not comply with social distancing restrictions.
State premier Markus Söder announced on Thursday that a curfew was on the cards if residents did not follow wide-spread restrictions introduced this week in a bid to restrict social contact and stem the spread of coronavirus.
Two particularly badly affected areas of Bavaria – the villages of Mitterteich, in Tirschenreuth, which has 7,000 people and Wunsiedel, with a population of around 9,600, – have already instructed curfews on residents this week.
The District Office of Tirschenreuth was first to order a lockdown on the town of Mitterteich, which lasts until April 2nd, because of the spread of the coronavirus there.
There are 40 confirmed cases in the town, and seven patients require ventilators.
Söder said: "If many people do not voluntarily adhere to restrictions, then in the end the only instrument left to use is the Bavaria-wide curfew. This must be clear to everyone."
As of Thursday at 10am there were a total of nearly 1,800 confirmed coronavirus cases in Bavaria, and growing. In Germany there were more than 12,800.
North Rhine-Westphalia remains the worst-hit state, with over 4,700 COVID-19 cases.
The Bavarian state government this week imposed far-reaching restrictions on visits to hospitals, old people's homes and nursing homes.
It has also declared a disaster situation with immediate effect to allow for the Germany army to be drafted in if needed and for hospital emergency contingency plans.
Further measures not ruled out in Berlin
As the number of infections soar, other local leaders are also urging communities to follow instructions or risk a full lockdown.
"I cannot and will not rule out taking further measures in the coming days," Berlin mayor Michael Müller said Wednesday.
"The question of a lockdown can play a role. That can be decided quickly. In that case, the parks and gardens will be closed," he warned. Berlin has more than 500 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Baden-Württemberg, where there are nearly 2,200 confirmed cases, also says a state lockdown could happen.
In order to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Germany has introduced strict border controls with five countries and the EU has closed its borders to foreigners.
On Monday the federal government agreed with the 16 states a set of widespread measures. Although there are some small differences between states, the restrictions include a ban on religious services, while non-essential shops have to close.
Supermarkets, banks and pharmacies are among the shops allowed to stay open, while bars, clubs, swimming pools and cinemas have been told to close. Restaurants have to close by 6pm.
Schools and daycare centres also closed while events have been banned.
The government has repeatedly urged people to socially distance themselves from each other, stay at home as much as possible and not go on holiday.
On Wednesday Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the nation in a televised speech, urging people to follow government measures.
"The situation is serious," said Merkel. "Take it seriously. Not since German reunification, no, not since the Second World War has our country faced a challenge that depends so much on our collective solidarity," she said.
With reporting by AFP