'Stricter rules than other parts of Germany': These are Berlin's new coronavirus measures
Berlin's Senate has tightened the coronavirus measures amid rising cases in the capital. They include rules on wearing face masks in offices and caps on gatherings.
Mayor Michael Müller, of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), said on Tuesday that Berlin needed to get a grip on rising Covid-19 cases .
"We must now do everything possible to prevent the situation from developing any further," he said.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states agreed to tighten Covid-19 measures across the country.
Among the new rules are caps on the number of people at parties in badly-hit coronavirus areas, and fines for people who give false contact tracing details.
READ ALSO: 'More masks, less parties': Germany limits events and family gatherings to curb coronavirus
Berlin is going further than the nationwide agreement by introducing stricter measures. "Now is not the time for further easing," said economic senator Ramona Pop, of the Greens.
"We must adopt and implement restrictions in a very targeted manner," she said. "This is what the city is doing; as of the weekend, stricter rules will apply than in other places in Germany."
The number of new infections in Berlin – as is the case across Germany – have risen sharply.
Within seven days, 28.9 people per 100,000 inhabitants became infected with coronavirus (as of September 29th, 2020). This figure, which is important for assessing the incidence of infection, is higher in the capital city than in any other federal state.
The new rules will come into force on Saturday, October 3rd.
Limits at parties
Although Berlin’s infection rate has not yet reached the threshold of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, the Senate has said it will limit the number of participants at private parties.
It was agreed that outdoor parties should be limited to a maximum of 50 participants.
Berlin wants to "draw very clear boundaries" at an earlier stage, said Pop, pointing out that the number of new infections in Berlin is currently just under 30.
"We are reacting earlier than the federal government. But we think it's imperative to do it now and not to wait a few more days to see how things develop." This is important so that we do not have to resort to far more drastic measures later, she added.
No more than 25 people are allowed to gather indoors.
Meanwhile, if there are 10 or more participants in a family celebration, for example, the hosts must keep an attendance list with contact details, just like what happens at restaurants and bars. These are not recommendations but regulations.
Compulsory masks in offices
In office and administrative buildings masks will be mandatory in public areas like on staircases, common areas and in lifts. At desks, however, no mouth and nose covering will have to be worn.
What about public events?
Until now, the country's infection control laws have not provided explicit upper limits for private parties indoors or outdoors.
The same rules that continue to apply to trade fairs, conferences and commercial leisure activities apply to all public events. That means the maximum permitted number of participants indoors is 750, and from Thursday October 1st, 1,000 participants are possible. Outdoors, up to 5,000 people are allowed to attend such events – provided they keep minimum distances.
"We have hygiene concepts, the danger is low, the risk is under control," said culture senator Klaus Lederer, of The Left party regarding public events.
The problem is the private sphere, Berlin authorities said.
Lederer added that it made no sense to forbid people to meet outside because the risk of infection is much lower outdoors than in closed rooms.
The Berlin politicians stressed that there might be more far-reaching measures if the situation required it. Müller also did not rule out the possibility that at some point in time, different rules for separate parts of the city might be introduced. But he said that this was not yet the case.
Müller said on Twitter: "Please stick to the rules, Corona is not over yet."
Der Berliner Senat ist sich einig, dass das, was wir gemeinsam erreicht haben, nicht durch Ungeduld und Unbedachtheit aufs Spiel gesetzt werden darf. Bitte halten Sie sich an die Regeln. #Corona ist noch nicht vorbei. (4/4)— Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin (@RegBerlin) September 29, 2020
He noted that the other states are to follow the capital's example and bring in a 'traffic light warning system', which helps authorities keep checks on the situation and introduce measures when certain thresholds are reached. "Many are orienting themselves to this," said Müller.