Bavaria reopens beer gardens, restaurants and cafes in areas with lower Covid rates

In some Bavarian districts with stable Covid rates, residents can enjoy an ice cold beer or coffee outside from today after more than six months of shutdown.

Bavaria reopens beer gardens, restaurants and cafes in areas with lower Covid rates
A beer garden in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, which opened up in March as part of a pilot project by the city. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

That’s because Bavaria is allowing outdoor dining and beer gardens to open – as long as Covid rates are below a certain threshold.

According to the national ‘emergency brake’ law, regions must have a 7-day incidence below 100 on five consecutive days, in order to end a raft of restrictions, which include night-time curfews, contacts reduced to one person outside your own household, and the closure of all but essential shops.

After five days, according to the Bavarian health ministry, two days should be set aside for implementation and hygiene plans and reopening can happen on the eighth day.

A total of 13 districts and cities belong to this category – and can open beer gardens, outdoor cafes and restaurants, as well some cultural and leisure activities, reported regional broadcaster BR24.

These are the districts of Landsberg am Lech, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Starnberg, Tirschenreuth, Neustadt an der Waldnaab, Amberg-Sulzbach, Kitzingen, Würzburg and Lindau as well as for the cities of Passau, Bamberg, Schwabach and Erlangen. The district of Neuburg-Schrobenhausen will follow on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Bavaria plans to open for tourists on May 21st

As has been the case throughout the pandemic across the 16 federal states, there is some guesswork about the exact provisions for the new regulations – both in terms of when areas can open parts of public life and at what point it may have to close them again if infection numbers spike.

When asked by BR24, the health ministry said if a district or city sees an increase of Covid infections that go above 100 cases per 100,000 people, it must close the facilities again.

Germany brought in the nationwide ’emergency brake’ measures in April, which include curfews and forced closures of some businesses in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.

It was aimed at bringing all states into line because some areas, including Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg, had ignored the rules on bringing in tougher measures if infections rise which were agreed by the states and Chancellor Angela Merkel in March.

But some states, including Bavaria, had opted to tighten rules when Covid-19 infections went up before the Germany-wide regulation happened.

Which regions could follow?

In the state capital Munich, beer gardens, cafes and restaurants should be allowed to open from Wednesday.

There are also some other districts which have clocked up five days under an incidence of 100 (as of Sunday) so these areas could be opening on Wednesday too: Bayreuth, Wunsiedel, Eichstätt, Nürnberger Land and Erding as well as the city of Würzburg.

Candidates for a possible opening on Thursday are the districts of Erlangen-Höchstadt and Forchheim. 

While the 7-day incidence is still above 50 infections per 100,000 residents, these businesses are able to welcome guests with reservations and negative coronavirus tests.

However, mandatory testing does not apply to fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid-19. As of Sunday, these groups face fewer Covid restrictions. 

All guests have to wear FFP2 masks when they are not at the table. Hospitality businesses have to close at 10pm.


What else is opening?

Theatres, concert halls and cinemas are also allowed to open if the coronavirus numbers are stable below 100. But they will have to shut if infections go up again.

Bavaria also plans to reopen tourism from May 21st.

Other regions, including Berlin, are also seeing a decrease in infections and will start opening up public life soon.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.