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BAVARIA

Coronavirus rules: What’s allowed (and what isn’t) in Bavaria?

The southern state of Bavaria, which has been hardest hit in the coronavirus crisis, is further relaxing restrictions, allowing for more people to meet. Here's an overview.

Coronavirus rules: What's allowed (and what isn't) in Bavaria?
Hubert Aiwanger, of Bavaria's Freie Wähler party (on the right), in a beer garden in Munich on May 18th. Photo: DPA

There are new coronavirus rules in Bavaria as the state continues to loosen restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the virus.

They were decided at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel.  “The infection rate in Bavaria has continued to develop positively in recent weeks,” the Ministry said. “The strategy of gradual opening has proved its worth.”

The limit of more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days is not being exceeded in any district or city in Bavaria, said authorities, and this justifies further relaxing of the rules.

As of Wednesday July 15th, Bavaria had more than 49,400 confirmed coronavirus cases, and more than 2,600 people had died, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

Keep in mind that across Germany everyone has to wear masks on public transport and in shops, and a minimum distance of 1.5 metres is required with others as much as possible.

READ ALSO: Free coronavirus tests for everyone in Bavaria – what you need to know

Here's what's changing in Bavaria:

– Contact regulations: from Wednesday July 15th, groups of up to 10 people from different households can meet again in public spaces.

– In private indoor spaces and gardens, there is no longer a strict limit, but the number of people should be limited so that a minimum distance of 1.5 metres can be maintained between people not from your household.

– Festivals and events: also from July 15th, cinemas and cultural events will again be able to accommodate more people: if there are allocated fixed seats up to 400 people outside can gather, and up to 200 people indoors. Major festivals are banned until at least October 31st as is the case throughout Germany.

– Without assigned and marked seats, up to 200 people will be allowed outdoors and up to 100 people indoors. The same restrictions will apply to professional events such as conferences or congresses.

– Restrictions will also be eased for sports competitions in closed indoor spaces. If there are marked areas that allow for distance, 200 people will be allowed; otherwise the limit is 100 people. For the time being, however, spectators remain excluded.

– In non-contact sports, competitions have been allowed for some time. Since July 8th Bavarian residents have also been permitted to hold training sessions again in contact sports – for example, football and handball teams. However, special hygiene rules apply. Competitions are still not allowed in this area.

– All swimming pools are allowed to open again, including indoor pools and thermal baths.

– Smaller markets “without the character of a folk festival… which do not attract large numbers of visitors and which do not have the character of a celebration” will again be permitted outdoors. They might include flea markets or craft markets. Prerequisites are that minimum distances are observed, that masks are compulsory, that there is no marquee and no party music and that the organisers draw up their own protection and hygiene concepts.

Beer gardens are open again in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Gradual opening of gastronomy and tourism

– In restaurants and beer gardens there is no longer a curfew, although various hygiene and distance rules still apply.  And guests must give their name and contact details to allow for contact tracing. Bars and pubs that don't sell food are still not allowed to open although authorities have vowed to find a way to allow this, reported the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

– Hotels are now allowed to accommodate tourists again, but not groups. The same applies to camping sites. Tourist facilities such as amusement parks, lake cruises or cable cars also started operating at the end of May, and river cruises have been permitted since July 8th.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Merkel receives royal treatment during visit to Bavaria

– There is no upper limit for the number of guests in hotels, but there are strict hygiene regulations

– Parties and events: wedding and other celebrations, such as graduations and club gatherings may take place with up to 100 people indoors or up to 200 people outdoors. Plus the operators of pubs, discos and clubs can rent out their rooms for private and cultural events.

– Demonstrations: demos are to be decided on a case-by-case basis by authorities. Meeting places must offer sufficient space for the minimum distance.

– Schools and day-care centres: All pupils are gradually returning to the classroom in Bavaria All children are allowed to return to kindergartens and crèches.

Masks must be worn

Irrespective of contact restrictions in Bavaria, the obligation to wear masks in shops and on public transport still applies.

In Bavaria, masks are compulsory for everyone over the age of six.

The contact restrictions are in place until Sunday July 19th. It's unclear at this stage if they will be extended after this date or eased again.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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