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Germany threatens new rules for travellers after ‘reckless behaviour’ in Mallorca

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says there could be new restrictions imposed on travellers after German tourists ignored coronavirus rules on holiday in Mallorca.

Germany threatens new rules for travellers after 'reckless behaviour' in Mallorca
Officers stand guard at the holiday resort of Magaluf in Mallorca. Photo: DPA

Maas spoke out on Thursday after photos and footage emerged of parties on the Balearic island of Mallorca where holidaymakers, many of them from Germany, ignored distance and mask wearing rules.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travelling from Germany to other European countries

Authorities in Spain have now taken drastic action and closed restaurants and bars on a party strip known as Ballermann until the end of the summer season.

Maas, of the centre-left Social Democrats, threatened to impose new coronavirus restrictions if German holidaymakers continue to behave irresponsibly.

“We have only just succeeded in reopening the borders in Europe,” he told newspapers in the Funke Media Group. “We must not now jeopardize this by reckless behaviour. Otherwise new restrictions will be unavoidable.”

Maas slammed the party scenes on Mallorca. “Such behaviour is not only dangerous, but also inconsiderate towards everyone who wants to spend their holidays in safety,” the Minister said.

He added that many holiday regions had “worked hard for months to ensure that tourists could now enter again”. The regulations served to protect everyone, he added.

READ ALSO: 'The danger of a second wave is real,' Germany's Health Minister warns holidaymakers

At the same time, Maas dampened hopes of a rapid lifting of further travel warnings. “In many countries, a second wave is just starting – for this reason alone, we cannot allow ourselves to experiment with the travel warning,” he said.

The deciding factor on relaxing rules is “the safety of the travellers alone”, Maas said.

Heiko Maas. Photo: DPA

On Monday German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that German tourists needed to be more careful in case they spark a large outbreak of coronavirus, similar to what happened in the ski resort of Ishgl in Austria which is widely thought to have fuelled the epidemic in Europe after it become a virus hotspot.

Local media on the Spanish island voiced outrage after video footage showed mainly German holidaymakers drinking, singing and dancing outside bars and terraces on Friday July 10th.

One local newspaper dubbed it “chaos” while the German-language Mallorca Zeitung said “it was as if no one had ever heard of the corona pandemic”.

“The pictures that we saw of the Germans' favourite island, Mallorca, at the weekend worry me,” said Spahn during a press conference on Monday. “We must be very careful that Ballermann doesn't become a second Ischgl.”

Sun-soaked Mallorca is known for being a favourite holiday destination for Germans. Before Spain's border opened in mid-June, thousands of people from Germany were allowed to visit the island as part of a trial run for holidaymakers.

'We will leave no one behind'

Meanwhile, Maas called an EU summit being held to discuss how to rebuild Europe after the coronavirus pandemic an “historic opportunity”.

READ ALSO: 'We can't risk Germans bringing virus back from non EU travel'

The two-day summit, which begins on Friday, is “a historic opportunity to show that we are a community of values and solidarity”, he said:

“We will leave no one behind,” Maas added. “It must be clear to everyone: no country will emerge well from the crisis alone if its neighbours get stuck in recession.”

The pandemic has hit many countries right in the heart, Maas stressed. “Of course we must give special support to these countries because the effects are dramatic and beyond our control.”

At the same time Maas said it was only reasonable when spending on such a large scale to pay attention to look into which countries could use their own efforts and resources to emerge from the crisis.

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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