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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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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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