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Bavaria plans 100 million rapid Covid tests to allow all pupils to return to school

In the southern state of Bavaria, schools have been promised 100 million self-tests starting next week so that more children can start being taught in person again. But teachers say the test strategy isn't being implemented properly.

Bavaria plans 100 million rapid Covid tests to allow all pupils to return to school
Children in the classroom in Bavaria. Photo:Matthias Balk/DPA

State leaders Markus Söder said on Friday that the first 11 million of the DIY tests had already arrived and would now be distributed through the state.

“It’s no good in the long run if the testing for the school is outside the school,” Söder told broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) during a visit to a school in Nuremberg.

“Contrary to what has been planned in Berlin, we’ve pre-ordered in Bavaria: for this year we have 100 million tests.”

Bavaria, Germany’s largest state in terms of size, plans to bring all children back into schools starting on Monday.

SEE ALSO: ‘The right thing to do’ – How Germany is reopening its schools

However, high coronavirus case rates mean that these plans have had to be shelved in several regions.

In Nuremberg, the state’s second largest city, primary school children have been sent back into distance learning after just a week back in the classroom.

The city announced on Friday that schools would have to close again after the 7-day incidence rose above 100 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The nearby city of Fürth closed its schools after just two days of classroom time on Wednesday, after the 7-day incidence rose to 135.

The Bavarian test strategy plans for school children to receive one test per week, while teachers have the possibility of taking two tests a week. The testing is not compulsory.

But teachers’ unions in the southern state have warned that the test capacity only exists on paper and have expressed concern that their members will become infected in the workplace.

“Our teachers are afraid of infection,” Almut Wahl, headmistress of a secondary school in Munich, told BR24.

“Officially they are allowed to be tested twice a week, we have already received a letter about this. But the tests are not there.”

BR24 reports that, contrary to promises made by the state government, teachers in many schools have still not been vaccinated, ventilation systems have not been installed in classrooms, and the test infrastructure has not been put in place.

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BAVARIA

Bar closures and no Christmas markets: How Bavaria is tightening Covid rules

Bavaria will order the closure of all bars and clubs as part of sweeping new restrictions to try and control the Covid spread and ease overrun hospitals. Here's a look at what's planned.

Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich.
Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

On Friday Bavarian state leader Markus Söder announced more tough restrictions to deal with spiralling Covid infections and packed intensive care units.

“The corona drama continues,” said Söder after the cabinet meeting, adding that 90 percent of Covid patients in state hospitals are unvaccinated. “Being unvaccinated is a real risk.”

Bavaria has a vaccination rate of 65.9 percent – lower than the nationwide rate of almost 68 percent.

READ ALSO: Bavaria cancels all Christmas markets in Covid surge

Söder said the state’s Covid package was about “blocking, braking and boosting”, adding that vaccination centres will be ramped up. 

“We must act,” he said. “Bavaria is exhausting almost all legal means until December 15th.”

Earlier this week, Bavaria introduced a state-wide 2G rule, meaning only vaccinated people (geimpft) and people who’ve recovered from Covid (genesen) can enter many public spaces. People who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to get it are excluded. 

Here’s an overview of the planned restrictions set to come in on Wednesday, as reported by local broadcaster BR24. 

Bars, clubs and restaurant curfew

From Wednesday, and for three weeks, all nightlife like clubs, discos, bars, pubs and brothels in Bavaria are set to close their doors. Restaurants will have to shut at 10pm. So planned Christmas nights out will likely need to be cancelled or postponed. 

Christmas markets

There will be no Christmas or Christkindl markets in Bavaria this year. In the past days, several cities had announced that they would not be holding these events this year due to the Covid situation. 

Contact restrictions on the unvaccinated

Söder announced new restrictions on the number of people those who are not inoculated can socialise with. A maximum of five unvaccinated people will be allowed to meet, from two different households. Children under 12 will not be included in the total, as well as vaccinated or people who’ve recovered from Covid.

Cultural and sporting events

All cultural and sporting events can only take place with significantly reduced spectators. At theatres, opera performances, sporting events, in leisure centres and at trade fairs, there will be a 25-percent capacity limit. The 2G plus rule also applies. This means that only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter (not the unvaccinated) – and only with a negative rapid test. Masks are compulsory everywhere.

Universities, driving schools, close-body services: 2G plus

All universities, driving schools, adult education centres and music schools will only be open to those who have been vaccinated and have recovered – making it 2G. This rule also applies to body-related services, like hairdressers and beauty salons. Only medical, therapeutic and nursing services are exempt from the 2G rule. So unvaccinated people can still go to the doctor or receive a medical procedure. 

KEY POINTS: Germany finalises new Covid restrictions for winter

Shops

Shops remain exempt from 2G rules, meaning unvaccinated people can visit them. However, there is to be limits on capacity. This means that fewer customers are allowed into a shop at the same time.

Special rules for hotspots

Currently, the incidence in eight Bavarian districts is above 1,000 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. Here and in all other regions where the incidence goes above this number, public life is to be shut down as far as possible.

This means that restaurants, hotels and all sports and cultural venues will have to close. Hairdressers and other body-related service providers will also not be allowed to open for three weeks, and events will also have to be cancelled. Universities will only be allowed to offer digital teaching. Shops will remain open, but there must be 20 square metres of space per customer. This means that only half as many customers as in other regions are allowed in a shop.

If the incidence falls below 1,000 for at least five days, the rules are lifted.

Schools and daycare

Throughout Bavaria, schools and daycare centres are to remain open. However, there will be regular Covid testing. Children and young people have to continue to wear a face mask during lessons, including school sports, unless they are exercising outside. 

Bavaria is expected to approve the measures on Tuesday and they will be in force until at least December 15th. We’ll keep you updated if there are any changes. 

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