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HEALTH

Germany reports 6,638 new coronavirus cases – highest since start of pandemic

New cases of coronavirus infections in Germany have soared to 6,638 in the past 24 hours, official data showed Thursday, reaching a daily level not seen since the start of the pandemic.

Germany reports 6,638 new coronavirus cases - highest since start of pandemic
A coronavirus test being carried out in Dresden on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

The alarming jump in numbers came just hours after Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the leaders of Germany's 16 federal states to agree tougher restrictions designed to slow the spread of the contagion.

The highest number of new cases previously recorded in one day was 6,294, on March 28th, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre.

On Wednesday last week, RKI reported 4,059 of new infections. This was the first time since April that the 4,000 mark had been exceeded.

The number of coronavirus tests has fluctuated between around 1.1 million and 1.2 million per week since mid-August.

However, according to RKI data from Wednesday evening, the rate of positive tests has increased significantly: from 0.74 percent at the end of August to 2.48 percent in the week from October 5th to 11th.

READ ALSO: 'We must prevent uncontrolled Covid-19 increase' says Merkel as rules tightened

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday night announced new limits on people gathering at events as well as mandatory mask wearing in crowded places.

Under the new measures, if an area records more than 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days, masks will become mandatory in all places where people have close contact.

“We can see that … infection rates are rising and that we have a very high infection rate in some regions,” Merkel said.

“We must therefore prevent an uncontrolled or exponential increase.”

The number of people allowed to gather will also be limited to 25 in public and 15 in private spaces.

Once a threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 is exceeded, even tougher restrictions will apply.

These include limiting private gatherings to 10 people or two households, and the closure of restaurants after 11:00 pm.

Even more curbs could be imposed if the upwards trajectory of new infections is maintained, Merkel warned.

“We will see if what we've done today is enough,” she said after Wednesday's decisions.

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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