Germany to extend ban on major events and limit numbers at social gatherings

Germany to extend ban on major events and limit numbers at social gatherings
Archive photos shows Berlin Marathon participants in 2016. Photo: DPA
Chancellor Angela Merkel wants major events such as public festivals, sporting events with spectators, concerts and festivals to remain banned until at least December 31st.

Exceptions would be granted for regions with very low infection rates, if it could be proven that the participants came exclusively from the area or surrounding areas with a similarly low coronavirus case count, according to a draft resolution ahead of Chancellor Merkel’s talks with state premiers on Thursday. 

Originally the government wanted to impose a limit of 25 people at private parties.

“Unfortunately, the last few weeks have shown that celebrations in particular can spread infections among family or friends,” the draft resolution states.

The limit of 25 participants should apply to meetings “in privately used rooms and in privately used properties”.

However, Merkel said this topic will be looked at again in the coming weeks.

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However, private celebrations in public spaces, for example weddings, can host up to 50 participants.  

The draft strongly encourages citizens “to limit the number of people they come into contact with”, to keep a distance of 1.5 metres whenever possible and to opt for outdoor gatherings over indoor ones.

The decision is a blow to German football clubs which had been hoping to invite supporters back to their games this autumn.

In April, Merkel and state premieres put a ban on large events with more than 500 participants until August 31st. 

Shortly afterwards, several large annual autumn events in Germany, such as Oktoberfest and the Berlin Marathon – held in September each year – announced they would cancel for this year. 

However, other large public gatherings – such as Christmas markets – prepared plans to go ahead while observing social distancing guidelines.

There's also been a heated debate over whether Carnival celebrations should go ahead in some form. It's celebrated mainly in February and March but has some events starting on November 11th.

Why are these events banned?

In a set of guidelines, the government said large-scale events “play a major role in the dynamics of infection”.

As in other countries, the upsurge of coronavirus cases the past weeks has been mainly blamed on summer travel and private gatherings.

READ ALSO: What can we expect from Germany's plans to tighten coronavirus measures at social gatherings?

Several recent outbreaks around have stemmed from social gatherings, particularly those held indoors.

However, over the summer, authorities have also broken up several outdoor gatherings with thousands of participants not observing social distancing rules in parks and private spaces. 

On Wednesday, Berlin also banned anti-coronavirus measures demonstrations – which previously saw up to 20,000 participants – over concerns that people would ignore the rules in place, such as wearing a face mask and social distancing.

READ ALSO: Berlin bans weekend demos against coronavirus measures

 


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