Germany records lowest Covid numbers since October as more states open up

Germany has recorded a 7-day incident below 30 for the first time since mid-October, according to the latest Robert Koch Institute (RKI) figures from Friday.

Germany records lowest Covid numbers since October as more states open up
Beach chairs are spread out along the Baltic Sea coast in Sellin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

On Friday morning, the RKI reported a 7-day incidence of 29.7 infections per 100,000 residents, down from 34.1 the day before. 

The last time a Germany-wide 7-day incidence below 30 was recorded was on October 13th, when it stood at 29.6.

However, the current low figures can also be attributed to a public holiday on Thursday (Corpus Christi), which was celebrated by six states around Germany. This means that there was likely less testing, and reporting of new data to local health authorities.

On Friday, the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg reported the highest 7-day incidence (37), while the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had the lowest (11.1). 

In addition to Baden-Württemberg, Saarland (36.6), Hesse (35.7), North Rhine-Westphalia (34.3), Thuringia (33.2) and Bremen (31.1) all exceeded 30 mark. 

At the county level, the spectrum ranges from 115.5 in Hildburghausen in the eastern state of Thuringia to Rügen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with an incidence of 1.3.

On Friday, the RKI also recorded a total of 3,165 new infections countrywide, down from 7,380 the week before.

The following graph from DPA on Friday shows where cases are highest and lowest around Germany.

Germany opens up

Amid the lower numbers, more states in Germany began to open up on Friday. As of Friday, out-of-state tourists are permitted to go on holiday again in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a popular destination situated along the Baltic Sea

Holidaymakers staying in a vacation apartment, and not visiting restaurants or museums, do not need to take another test. All others must be retested at least every 72 hours. 

In Berlin, numerous restrictions will be significantly relaxed on Friday. Indoors, six people from three households are now allowed to meet; outside, the figure goes up to ten people from five households.

Children under the age of 14 are not counted. Shopping and outdoor dining are possible without a coronavirus test. Indoor dining will also open up, with a mandatory test.

READ ALSO: Indoor dining and gyms: How Berlin’s new eased Covid rules affect you

Hamburg’s restaurants and pubs will also be allowed to serve guests indoors again from Friday. Visitors, however, will need a negative coronavirus test and may only sit at a table of five people. Staff must also be tested twice a week. 

After 11pm, pub guests must leave or move to outside tables if they want to continue drinking. If the pub is located in the crowded Schanzenviertel or certain areas of St. Pauli, alcohol may not be served outside after 11pm on weekends either.

In Bavaria, the state’s cabinet will be discussing further relaxations in areas such as culture, sports and dining on Friday. Outdoor dining and tourism has already reopened in the southern state.

READ ALSO: State by state: What are the new rules for tourism around Germany?

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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