German states call for uniform Covid rules at big events

As Germany begins to open up again, state leaders want to develop a uniform framework for dealing with major cultural and sporting events under pandemic conditions.

German states call for uniform Covid rules at big events
Ballerinas performing 'Swan Lake' in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

States run by the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), in particular, have expressed a need for standardised rules across the 16 Bundesländer.

The SPD side called for basic rules for spectators at major indoor and open-air events depending on both the coronavirus incidence and vaccination rate.

They also said they wanted to see mandatory mask requirements, or proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test, to be put in place. 

Currently there are no set Germany-wide rules for major events, with most states enforcing their own participant caps for outdoor festivals, concerts and cultural events which are still taking place. 

Berlin mayor Michael Müller (SPD) said it’s especially important to set uniform rules due to events which travel from state to state, such as concerts or sport matches. 

Germany has already cancelled several major outdoor events later this year, including Munich’s Oktoberfest which usually begins in September. 

However the Berlin Marathon organisers announced this week that the 35,000-participant strong event would likely still continue as planned – but with a safety plan and restrictions. 

The Euro 2020 football championship (which was postponed from last year) also starts on Friday, with several upcoming games to be hosted in Munich’s Allianz Arena. Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the stadium, which can normally accommodate 75,000 guests.

The rules for spectators for the Euro 2020 vary across countries, with Budapest being the only city to allow full fan capacity. However, there are uniform rules for all matches, such a mandatory masks and maintaining a minimum distance of 1.5 metres.



Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said it was “premature to open up too much, too soon”.

Although the current coronavirus situation is very positive, there is growing concern every day about developments in Britain, where the Delta variant of the virus, originally detected in Indian, is spreading rapidly, the CSU leader said.

READ ALSO: Germany in ‘race to vaccinate’ amid rise of Covid Delta variant, says Merkel

Therefore, he said, not everything can happen now without rules. “We should not be rash,” Söder stressed. 

He added that this applies in particular to dealing with major events, as every event – whether a rock concert or football match – must be assessed very differently. 

In addition, both the incidence figures and a high vaccination rate are decisive, he added.

On Friday morning the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a seven-day incidence of 18.6 for every 100,000 residents, down from 19.3 the day before. It also reported 2,440 coronavirus infections within one day, down from 3,165 a week ago.

However, the number of people who died from or with the coronavirus within a day grew compared to the previous week. Within 24 hours on Friday morning the figure stood at 102 new deaths, whereas a week ago it was 86.

Around 47 percent of the German population has had at least one jab, and 24.8 percent are fully vaccinated.


Large event – (die) Großveranstaltung

Spectators – (die) Zuschauer

Spread – ausbreiten 

Rash – kopflos

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.