The capital has become the latest area in Germany to introduce a restriction on movement if the seven day incidence (the number of Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents in seven days) climbs above 200.
The state government decided on Tuesday that from a seven-day incidence of 200, a radius of 15 km will be drawn around the city limits.
The new regulation will come into force on Saturday.
According to the latest data from Tuesday, the incidence in Berlin, i.e. the number of registered new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within one week, was 199.9 – just below the threshold of 200.
(article continues below)
See also on The Local:
But it's very close so the rule could be in force at the weekend unless the number drops.
With a 15-km travel restriction on the horizon for Berlin should the infection rate exceed 200, one has to wonder: Is the pandemic punking us today? pic.twitter.com/9QiHaoZUaH
— William Noah Glucroft (@wnglucroft) January 13, 2021
What does this actually mean for Berliners?
Residents of the capital would then only be allowed to leave the city for valid reasons, such as travelling to work or to the doctor.
Air travel would also no longer be possible.
Longer train journeys or car trips would also no longer be allowed under the 15 km rule. Berliners would still be allowed to travel as far as places like Potsdam, Bernau or Falkensee, but not to Rheinsberg, the Oderbruch or the Spreewald.
The rule is defined by anywhere within 15 km of the borders of Berlin, so someone living in the north of the city could still travel to Potsdam, for example, even though it's a distance of more than 15 km.
If the 15-kilometre rule comes into force, it will only be lifted again if the incidence in Berlin falls below 200 for seven days in a row, Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz, of the Social Democrats said, reported RBB on Tuesday.
Kollatz confirmed that there would be exceptions to the rule, such as visiting hospital or court. There will also be exceptions for official appointments or caring for relatives.
Berliners are also allowed to visit rented or leased property or residential property beyond the 15 km radius – as far as the rules of other federal states allow.
The tweet below by broadcaster RBB sums up the new rules in Berlin.
Zur Eindämmung der #Corona-Pandemie wird die Bewegungsfreiheit in #Berlin auf 15 Kilometer ab der Stadtgrenze eingeschränkt, wenn die 7-Tage-Inzidenz auf einen Wert über 200 steigt. Weitere Infos zu den Corona-Regeln ? https://t.co/Sozl4eY7h7 pic.twitter.com/nXrHAoDhnb
— rbb|24 (@rbb24) January 12, 2021
Is visiting family or doing sports allowed?
No. Visits to relatives such as parents, grandparents or children is not allowed (unless it's for caring purposes).
Going to church or religious events and doing sports or exercise is also not permitted under the rule.
Shopping would also not be a reason to leave the radius.
In the case of looking after animals – some people may have horses for example – this would have to be clarified in each individual case, Kollatz said.
“The goal of all that we are doing is to reduce the number of travel movements and contacts,” Kollatz emphasised.
Later, economics minister Ramona Pop (Greens) expressed a similar opinion on broadcaster RBB.
The 15-kilometre rule is a measure to reduce mobility, she said on the evening show on Tuesday. In addition, she said, the federal states had agreed to adopt rules that were as uniform as possible.
- Schools, contact rules and travel: What you need to know about Berlin's new Covid-19 restrictions
- This is how Germany's coronavirus rules vary between states
Fines for violations
Politicians in both Brandenburg and Berlin will discuss how to conduct checks. According to Kollatz, it will involve spot checks and “punishing obvious violations”.
Should the rule come into effect in the capital, Brandenburg police officers will stop Berlin drivers who are found outside the radius to ask for valid reasons of their trip.
“If these cannot be given, the officers will take down the personal data and pass it on to the responsible authorities,” explained a spokesperson for the Brandenburg police headquarters.
The same procedure will follow for Brandenburg citizens who are found far outside their radius. The 15 km rule has been in force in Brandenburg since last Saturday.
There will be fines for violations of the rule, Kollatz said but did not comment on the amount they would be.
Opposition parties, including Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Free Democrats (FDP) have slammed the move. They say contacts that should be reduced, not the distance that people travel.
Change to contact rules
Berlin has also amended its contact rules. At the moment (until at least the end of January) private gatherings are only allowed among members of your own household and with a maximum of one other person not living in the household.
If a person is a single parent, their children (under 12) are not counted in the rule.
Now the Berlin Senate has agreed on another exception. Children under 12 from a maximum of two fixed households can be cared for alternatively by the adults from the two households (this creates a 'social bubble').
The decision is to allow for more community childcare and to relieve emergency care set up in Kindergartens.