Coronavirus: These are Germany’s proposed new rules for events and restaurants

As the colder months approach, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country's 16 state premieres are meeting to discuss new measures to stem the spread of the virus indoors. Here are their main proposals.

Coronavirus: These are Germany's proposed new rules for events and restaurants
A waitress at Munich's famous Hofbräuhaus on Friday. Photo: DPA

“Staying indoors during the autumn and winter and the impending flu season, we must now be particularly careful,” the draft proposal to be discussed on Tuesday states.

On Monday Merkel had warned that coronavirus cases could leap to “19,200 daily” by December if swift action was not taken.

READ ALSO: Merkel warns coronavirus cases in Germany 'could leap by 19,200 daily by Christmas'

On Sunday, Germany recorded 2,507 new cases – the highest figure since April, the peak of the crisis when more than 6,000 daily cases were reported.

Over the past seven days, the country has confirmed 13,079 cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Cap on events

The draft proposes that private events – such as weddings or birthday parties – should be capped at 25 guests and public ones at 50.

Yet the limit on participants at private events stands to vary if regional infection numbers go up.

States could issue new restrictions on the number of guests if 35 infections per 100,000 inhabitants is exceeded in a district within seven days. 

If more than 50 people per 100,000 inhabitants in a county become infected within seven days, further measures will have to be adopted, the draft goes on to say.

In the most severely affected areas, there could be a cap of 10 participants in private celebrations and a maximum of 25 participants in public celebrations.

“If we all are cautious together, and accept necessary restrictions temporarily, we can save our country a lot in autumn and winter,” said Merkel spokesperson Steffan Seibert on Monday.

Rules for restaurants

Restaurants and pubs around Germany are currently required to log the details of diners for the event of an outbreak.

In order to enable correct contact tracing, the draft proposes that  authorities should be able to impose a minimum fine of 50 for violations such as providing false or incomplete personal details.

In particularly affected regions, the government also wants to limit the sale of alcohol under certain conditions.

In order to minimise infections in the catering trade, “time-limited bans on the sale of alcohol would have to be introduced if the incidence of infection increases”.

Fever outpatient clinics for the autumn and winter season

In light of both the flu season and an increasing number of coronavirus infections, the proposal also advocates the use of so-called fever outpatient clinics for more widespread testing.

READ ALSO: 'Fever drop-in clinics': German Health Minister proposes new coronavirus strategy

The government will also present a plan on how to prevent overcrowding at hospitals and GP surgeries.

It also recommends that risk groups be vaccinated against the flu as a precautionary measure.

Other proposals for life indoors

Particularly in the cold season, two more factors should be part of people’s plans for reducing the risk of coronavirus infections: the Coronavirus Warn App and Stoßlüften, or opening the window completely in order to “considerably reduce the risk of infection,” reads the draft.  

The paper also advocated keeping schools and Kitas open in the colder months.

“The overarching aim must be to keep schools and childcare facilities running, as well as the continued operation of the economy after the painful restrictions early this year and in the summer,” it read.

But ahead of the meeting, some state premiers have already voiced opposition to toughening measures.

Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer said stricter rules made sense only
in places where infections are sharply rising.

“That is not an issue for Saxony. That's why there won't be toughened rules here,” he told regional radio MDR Sachsen.



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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now