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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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.