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COVID-19

IN PICTURES: How Germany is reopening more than six months after Covid shutdown

In many areas across Germany, facilities including outdoor terraces and swimming pools are opening after being closed to guests for months. Here's a look at what's happening.

IN PICTURES: How Germany is reopening more than six months after Covid shutdown
Berliner Rene sitting at a restaurant at the Gendarmenmarkt enjoying a beer on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

In the last few weeks, Germany has seen very encouraging news: Covid-19 cases have been falling significantly across the country, although regions are at different stages.

In places with stable Covid rates below 100 cases per 100,000 people, terraces in cafes, bars and restaurants have been opening their doors. Some districts and cities are also beginning to open outdoor swimming pools, while other areas are opening hotels.

There are still Covid restrictions in place – but it’s a huge step back to some kind of normality after Germany entered its now infamous ‘lockdown light’ at the start of November. The aim was to reopen businesses in December. But what followed was months of widespread lockdown measures and spiralling Covid cases.

READ ALSO: Germans return to pools and beer gardens after months of closure

What’s happening across Germany?

Friday was all go for Berlin. Here, a woman (below) is showing her vaccination pass to get into a terrace in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Konstantin und Katherina Romersch make a toast in the Gasthaus Großer Kiepenkerl in Münser on Friday. Hospitality facilities can open indoors in Münster from now on. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Thissen

Matthias Görtz and his wife Monika Görtz (below) on the garden terrace of the Schweizer Milchhäusch at the Bad Nauheim spa gardens for breakfast on Friday. Thanks to low infection figures, shops, restaurants and cafés in the Wetterau region in Hesse are once again allowed to serve customers. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

 
 
 
 
 
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In Berlin (and some other places) the swimming pools opened on Friday.

Swimming enthusiast Bettina (below) at the Schyrenbad outdoor pool in Munich after it opened on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Student Corinna jumps from the starting block into the pool at Schyrenbad, Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

A couple enjoys a drink in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday afternoon. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

READ ALSO: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining as bars and restaurants reopen

A group from the Ruhrgebiet at a camping site in Münster on Friday. Camping sites are allowed to open in areas with lower Covid rates in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Guido Kirchner

Matthias Kunze in Magdeburg (below) brings a latte to a table at the KlosterKaffee on May 20th after reopening. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

And this is what guests need to be served: a negative coronavirus test certificate (or proof of fully vaccination/recovery from Covid-19). This is shown at the table at the KosterKaffee in Magdeburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert
 
 
Markus, manager of the beach cocktail bar 112 in Düsseldorf, preparing on Thursday for the opening the following day. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcel Kusch
 

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COVID-19

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.

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