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 to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

With infection numbers shooting up once again in Germany, states are set to bring in a new set of Covid measures on October 1st.

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of 'difficult' winter

From Saturday, masks will no longer be required on commercial flights, though people will still be expected to wear an FFP2 mask on long-distance trains.

States will also be given the option to introduce mandatory masks in other public indoor spaces, including on local public transport and in schools. If they choose to bring in masks, they’ll also have the freedom to introduce exceptions to masks for people who are recently vaccinated or who have tested negative for Covid.

States will also be able to introduce compulsory testing in schools and nurseries.

READ ALSO: German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Speaking at a press conference alongside Robert Koch Institute (RKI) chair Lothar Wieler on Friday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach defended the decision to keep Covid rules in place when other countries in Europe have largely got rid of their pandemic measures. 

“It’s not for me to criticise what other countries are doing,” said Lauterbach. “We have a particularly difficult winter ahead of us due to the energy crisis, we don’t want to make it worse through the Covid crisis.”

The SPD politician also defended plans for mandatory masks for residents and staff in nursing and care homes. Having 40 or 50 vulnerable people together in an enclosed space is “extremely high-risk”, he said. 

Under the new rules set to be introduced on Saturday, residents of care homes will be expected to wear FPP2 masks in all common areas of the home, and will only be able to take them off in their bedrooms.

“For people in nursing homes, the FFP2 mask requirement means a considerable cut in their quality of life,” Regina Görner, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations (Bagso), told DPA:

“The nursing home is their home, in which they can then no longer move freely without a mask.”

Visitors to nursing homes, meanwhile, will have to supply a negative Covid test, while staff will be tested three times a week. 

Under the autumn and winter rules, people across Germany will also be required to wear an FFP2 mask at their doctor’s surgery and in medical outpatient facilities such as hospitals.

“We’re better prepared than last autumn,” Lauterbach told reporters on Friday. “We have the infection numbers under control, we have this wave under control.” 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

Steep rise in cases

As the weather turns colder, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has reported a steep rise in respiratory infections, including Covid-19.

Last week, the number of Covid patients jumped dramatically from 500,000 to 1.2 million per week, with cases rising significantly in every age group.

Meanwhile, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people shot up from 409 on Thursday to 466 on Friday. The previous week, the weekly incidence stood at 294 per 100,000 people. 

The numbers are believed to be partially inflated by the ongoing Oktoberfest beer festival, which is being held for the first time since the pandemic started. In Munich, the location of the festival, the weekly incidence is almost 800. 

Speaking at the press conference in Berlin on Friday, RKI chair Wieler warned people not to get complacent about the threat of infection.

“A mild course of illness simply means not ending up in hospital,” he said. “We should be conscious of how much risk we want take on, and how much risk we can avoid.”

RKI chief Lothar Wieler

Robert Koch Institute chair Lothar Wieler (l) and Heath Minister Karl Lauterbach (r) hold a press conference in Berlin on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Despite the looming energy crisis, the RKI boss advised the public to ensure that rooms were well ventilated, adding that spaces normally occupied by a large number of people should be aired out more regularly.

He also advised people with Covid symptoms to stay home until they felt better in order to avoid passing on any infections, and warned that people should be especially careful to avoid contact with vulnerable people.

“Just like before, these people need our solidarity,” he said. 

Self-isolation and quarantine rules vary from state to state, but people who test positive for Covid generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10.

In some cases, people can take an additional Covid test in order to end their isolation early.

The RKI has also recommended that people wear a mask in public enclosed spaces. 

READ ALSO: What will the Covid situation in Germany look like this autumn?