Berlin mayor Michael Müller described the situation as “gruelling” as he confirmed on Tuesday that no further steps towards a return to normal life would be taken at the moment, according to a report in the Berliner Zeitung.
Concretely, that means that restaurants will not be able to open for outdoor dining, while theatres, concert halls, opera houses and cinemas will remain closed, and outdoor sport will still not be possible.
One important relaxation of the rules will not be lifted, though. Teenagers in the year groups 10 to 13 started school again in the capital on Wednesday in “shift classes.” Half of the class will attend in-person while the other half will work at home.
The year groups 7 to 9 will not be allowed back into school though. Berlin had planned to bring them back into the classroom next week.
All of the year groups will return to the classroom in shifts after Easter “should the infection situation allow it,” the city’s education ministry said.
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The epidemic situation has become markedly worse in Germany’s largest city in recent days. The 7-day incidence of infections rose to 91.3 on Tuesday, a strong increase on the day before when it stood at 75.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
At 16 percent occupancy, the intensive care situation in Berlin has not yet risen to the critical level where the city turns its “traffic light” warning system to red.
At the last crunch lockdown talks on March 3rd, Angela Merkel and the state leader agreed on a step-by-step lifting of restrictions. But built into this process was a so-called Notbremse – an emergency brake which local and regional governments could pull if the 7-day incidence were to rise above 100.
With cases rising strongly again throughout the country, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has said that Germany is already in the midst of a third wave of the virus.
The RKI released a prognosis last week that there would be more cases in early April than there were at the high point of the crisis in late December. The basis for this prognosis is the increased prevalence of the so-called British variant of the coronavirus which is believed to be more transmissible.