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Major events set to be banned in Germany until 'at least end of October'

AFP/DPA/The Local
AFP/DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 17 Jun, 2020 Updated Wed 17 Jun 2020 15:18 CEST
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Major events are to remain banned until at least the end of October in Germany, according to a draft agreement ahead of a meeting with the states and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel will meet with the leaders of Germany's 16 states on Wednesday June 17th to discuss the next steps in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a draft agreement drawn up ahead of the meeting and viewed by Spiegel, major events are to remain banned in Germany until at least the end of October, with the possibility of extending the ban until the end of the year.

Exceptions can be made if contact tracing and compliance with hygiene regulations is ensured at certain events, the draft document says.

The ban, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, is currently in place until August 31st, however some events which were due to take place after this date, such as Oktoberfest, are already cancelled.

If the extension is agreed on by the state premiers, the ban on large events could affect shows such as the Frankfurt  ook fair.

Organisers of the book fair, which draws around 300,000 visitors, had until now said they planned to go ahead.

With new infection rates sharply down from highs in March and a death toll significantly lower than those of its neighbours, Germany became the first major EU country to begin easing virus restrictions about six weeks ago.

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Meanwhile, the draft agreement also states that regular operation in schools is to be resumed after the summer holidays at the latest – "with the elimination of the distance requirements". Also in childcare, politicians want to return "promptly" to normality.

READ MORE: Merkel and state leaders to draw up plan on next phase of coronavirus crisis

Underlining the volatility of the situation, an outbreak in a slaughterhouse in western Germany's Rheda-Wiedenbrueck region led 400 workers to test positive for the virus.

And in one Berlin neighbourhood, 370 families living in high-rise flats have been put under quarantine after 70 infections were detected.

Obligation to wear face masks set to continue

Germany's states "continue to strive", the draft agreement says, to reduce or mitigate coronavirus restrictions in various areas of life.

Authorities want to expand test capacities, especially for "facilities with vulnerable groups of people".

Citizens are also still required to limit contacts, to meet outdoors if possible, to keep the minimum 1.5 metre distance to people not from their household, and to observe hygiene rules. The obligation to wear face masks in certain public areas, such as on public transport and in shops, should also remain in place for now.

In addition, the heads of the state chancelleries agreed on a catalogue that defines in detail how the federal and state governments will cooperate in the aid package that has already been agreed. They include, for example, the payment of the Kinderbonus money – an extra €300 per child which parents are slated to receive.
 

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AFP/DPA/The Local 2020/06/17 15:18

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