UPDATE: What you need to know about Berlin’s new coronavirus restrictions

Regions across Germany are tightening coronavirus rules as infections rise. Here's what you need to know about new restrictions in Berlin.

UPDATE: What you need to know about Berlin's new coronavirus restrictions
Bars need to close at midnight on Friday in Berlin, and after that there's an 11pm curfew. Photo: DPA

We updated this story on Friday October 10th.

What's the situation?

The number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days in Berlin has reached 52.8. When an area surpasses the 50 mark it becomes a 'risk zone'. This results in domestic travel restrictions for residents in the capital.  Peopel in Berlin are also not allowed to travel for overnight stays in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's Covid-19 internal travel restrictions

There have been around 1,600 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the last seven days in the capital. And there were 498 cases reported in the last 24 hours on Friday, the highest daily amount in Berlin since the start of the pandemic.

In the inner city districts, the numbers are significantly higher than on the outskirts, with the Neukölln area in particular standing out with  an incidence rate of 133 – the worst number in all districts across Germany.

The coronavirus reproduction rate stands at 1.02, meaning each infected person is passing it to around one other person.

Berlin monitors the situation through a corona 'traffic light warning system'. When certain limits are passed, new measures are introduced.

On Friday October 9th Berlin mayor Michael Müller said he was not ruling out further measures to bring the situation under control.

Since the pandemic began, Berlin has registered around 17,100 cases. There have been around 314,600 confirmed infections in Germany in total, with around 4,500 within 24 hours reported on Friday

“This development causes me great concern,” said Müller. “It shows how important it is that we in the Senate have decided on further restrictions this week.”

Müller appealed to people to stop having wild parties outside as well as inside, to keep to distance rules and to restrict social contacts. “We are in a situation where we have to pay attention to each other again,” he said.

The sharp rise in infection numbers could result in new restrictions in the capital.

“Against this background, we can't rule out agreeing on further steps,” Müller said, adding: “We want to avoid a lockdown like the one we already had.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus second wave: Why the party is over in Germany's cities

What are the new rules?

In a bid to slow down the spread of Covid-19, the Senate has introduced new regulations. They include:

– Between 11pm and 6am a maximum of five people from different households, or people from two households, are allowed to meet in outdoor public spaces.

– Private events and meetings indoors can have a maximum amount of 10 people. Previously the limit for indoor gatherings was 25.

– During the day, groups of up to 50 people will still be permitted to meet outdoors.

What about the curfew?

– Bars, restaurants and other establishments will have to close between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

– Sales outlets, including late night shops or Spätis, also have to close from 11pm to 6am.

– Petrol stations can remain open during this time but cannot sell alcohol.

– Pharmacies are allowed to stay open during this time.

When do the new measures apply?

The restrictions will come into force on Saturday October 10th (so just after midnight on Friday). They will last initially last until October 31st.

Should I know anything else?

The curfew is actually being challenged by a handful of bars and restaurants in Berlin who are arguing that there is no convincing justification for having to shut at 11pm.

A ruling is expected next week.

What's the aim of the new rules?

The measures are mainly aimed at clamping down on private parties and illegal parties, which the Berlin authorities see as drivers of the infection rate.

“We will bring the city to rest after 11pm,” said Justice Senator Dirk Behrendt of the Greens. Authorities do want to see crowds of people. So a “dispersal order” has been included in the rules, meaning police can break up groups of people gathering together.

Throughout the summer, there have been illegal parties in parks such as Hasenheide. 

The curfew applies to all places where people can buy alcohol, Behrendt said. These closures are much easier to control than to check whether alcohol is being served.

READ ALSO: 'Who's controlling it?': Why you could face domestic travel restrictions within Germany

What happens if you break the rules?

Fines of up to €5,000 can be slapped on establishments which break the rules. Punishments can also be handed out to people who break the contact restriction measures.

Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer of The Left party said particular hotspots, such as Friedrichshain, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Mitte and Neukölln, would be checked more closely.

“We have the chance to repeat in a short time with these measures what we did in March, April,” said Lederer: “If we don't manage to do this, we will have to come down much harder.”

The health authorities are struggling to trace the chains of infection and action has to be taken, he said.

A bar in Berlin on Tuesday night. From Saturday they'll have to shut at 11pm. Photo: DPA

What's the reaction?

Berlin is viewed as Germany's worst hotspot right now.

“I am afraid this is on the verge of no longer being controllable,” said Bavarian state premier Markus Söder, of the centre-right Christian Social Union, in Munich on Tuesday, calling on those responsible in Berlin to fight more resolutely against the rising number of infections.

He pointed out that Munich had succeeded in slowing down the rise in infections by taking tougher measures.

Is there any more support for people?

The Senate also announced a multilingual information campaign to better inform citizens about the rules in force. Health authorities will also be allocated more staff to carry out their work.

Further financial support will also be given to the catering and late-night services. Clubs that remain closed will also get more liquidity support.

READ ALSO: 'More masks, less parties': Germany limits events and family gatherings to curb coronavirus

Brandenburg also stepping up measures

Meanwhile, the neighbouring state of Brandenburg has increased its corona measures in view of the rising number of infections, particularly in Berlin.

Starting Sunday, masks will be mandatory not only in public buses and trains and in retail outlets, but also in office buildings and lifts – but only if 35 new infections are detected per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.

A mouth and nose covering is also a must in restaurants if you are not sitting at your seat. The new rules will initially apply until November 8th.

State premier Dietmer Woidke of the Social Democrats also asked residents not to travel to risk areas. State interior minister Michael Stübgen of the Christian Democrats said: “We are counting on the possibility that this containment will definitely prevent a second shutdown this year.”

Member comments

  1. is this information correct? is reporting that indoor gatherings between curfew hours are also limited to 5 people (or 2 households), and that only outside of curfew hours can 10 people meet indoors.

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.