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EXPLAINED: How you can visit a bar in Berlin from Friday

Berlin bars will be allowed to welcome guests again starting on Friday - one of several openings to take place in the capital in the coming days and weeks.

EXPLAINED: How you can visit a bar in Berlin from Friday
A Berlin bartender in October. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

The outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants are also allowed to open on Friday May 21st, Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz (SPD) announced on Tuesday after a Senate meeting.

Guests must show a negative Covid test result from the last 24 hours – or prove that they have been fully vaccinated or recovered from a coronavirus infection. Free rapid tests are offered at multiple locations around the capital. They will also be required to leave their contact information, usually through the luca App.

READ ALSO: How do you prove that you’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in Germany?

In order to avoid large gatherings, bar-goers will also be required to sit down at one spot during their visit. Up to five people from two households will be allowed.

“Please do not form clusters of people, sit down somewhere in the respective small group, and then everything is good,” said Kollatz.

The rules on the sale of beer, wine and other alcohol will be relaxed only slightly: Until now, it was forbidden to serve or sell alcoholic beverages in Berlin after 10pm. In future, the ban will apply between 11pm and 5am.

Kollatz justified sticking to this restriction by saying that the sale of alcohol favours crowds – which increases the risk of coronavirus infections.

On Wednesday Berlin had a 7-day incidence of 61.5 new infections per 100,000 people in the population, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). This marks the seventh day in a row that the capital has reported infections below the critical value of 100.

If numbers remain below this value, the Berlin Senate is also allowing the inner areas of bars, restaurants and cafes to open on June 18th, provided that guests make a reservation and show a test (or proof of vaccination or recovery). A limited number of customers will also be allowed at a time.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining

Further openings

On Wednesday May 19th Berlin also allowed for several other parts of public life to reopen after months of closures.

Outdoor theatres, cinemas and concert houses were allowed to reopen, also with a test requirement and a cap of no more than 250 guests at a time.

On Friday, 11 outdoor swimming pools will initially reopen to those who have a test and make a reservation. Children up to 12 years old will be allowed to swim for free during the summer holidays.

Shopping is also possible again without making an appointment in advance.

Several other openings are also coming up in the capital, such as fitness and dance studios, and the inner areas of zoos and botanical gardens, on June 4th.

Provided that coronavirus numbers stay low, hotels will also be allowed to rewelcome overnight guests starting on June 18th.

READ ALSO: Outdoor dining and swimming pools: How Berlin plans to reopen in May

Mandatory tests will continue to apply for all these venues. 

As with the rest of Germany, Berlin has been in a lockdown since the beginning of November, which have seen cafes, restaurants and bars – except for pick-ups and takeaways – close. 

Furthermore, most cultural and sport venues have also shut their doors, and have slowly been reopening over the last two months as infection numbers drop and the country’s vaccine campaign picks up speed. Kitas (daycare centres) also reopened on Monday.

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COVID-19 RULES

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

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