Court suspends 15km rule in Bavaria as Söder warns against relaxing Covid measures

A Bavarian court has provisionally overturned the ban on tourist day trips beyond a 15km radius. It came as the state leader called for patience when it comes to easing restrictions.

Court suspends 15km rule in Bavaria as Söder warns against relaxing Covid measures
Bavrian premier Markus Söder on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

The Administrative Court ruled the ban in all likelihood violated the principle of clarity.

For those affected, the spatial scope of the ban on tourist day trips beyond a radius of 15km around the municipality of residence was not sufficiently recognisable.

Since January 11th, parts of Bavaria which clock up more than 200 new infections per 100,000 residents have faced the rule. Residents there could only a travel within a maximum radius of 15 km from their place of residence.

Among others, three Social Democrat members in the state parliament had filed emergency motions against the regulation.

The court ruled, however, that municipalities still have the power to order an entry ban for tourist day trips remains in place.

The 15 km rule is also in place in other parts of Germany although not all states implemented the measure.

The decision of the Administrative Court is effective immediately – until a ruling is made in the main proceedings.

FFP2 masks should still be worn

The judges also confirmed that the Bavaria-wide FFP2 mask requirement will stay in place. Residents have to wear FFP2 masks while travelling on public transport and in shops.

They argued that the masks offered greater protection than medical or cloth masks. The costs for the purchase of masks was also considered reasonable.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Bavaria’s FFP2 mask rule

Last week, Bavaria’s highest administrative judges provisionally overturned another coronavirus measure: the court saw no basis for a state-wide ban on consuming alcohol in public spaces.

The ban on drinking alcohol in public was put in place on December 11th 2020.

People playing in the snow in Munich. Photo: DPA

‘It’s not over yet’

It came as Bavarian state leader Markus Söder urged caution on exiting the lockdown too early.

Söder said the trend for falling coronavirus numbers was positive.

But he said the variants of the virus were a cause for concern.

He warned it would be a “toxic” combination for the variants to spread in Germany alongside measures being eased too early.

“We must not let up now, it is not over yet,” he stressed. “It is not the time for easing.”

The strategy is correct and the measures are working, said Söder.

However, he warned there was no reason to sound the all-clear and that the numbers were still too far from the target value of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents in seven days.

Nobody wants a “yo-yo effect”, he said.

“What’s the point of opening a shop for three weeks if you then have to close it again?”

Söder also slammed the slow progress of Covid-19 vaccinations in Germany.

He appealed to the federal government and the EU to make sure that vaccine supplies would improve. He added that for a country like Germany, it was unacceptable for vaccinations to be so slow.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now