Multiple German states tighten Covid rules ahead of New Year

Christmas Market in Schwerin
People browse the stalls at the Christmas market in Schwerin, Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, on December 1st, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Büttner
Under emergency plans agreed by the state and federal governments to combat the highly infectious Omicron variant, a number of German states will introduce tighter Covid restrictions from Monday.

The changes, which were drafted at a meeting between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the 16 federal state leaders on December 21st, include restricting private gatherings to up to ten vaccinated or recovered people and shutting dance venues and nightclubs. 

Some federal states had already opted to bring in stricter rules on gatherings ahead of the Christmas break, though the majority opted to wait until after Boxing Day to implement the changes. The deadline for bringing in the new rules nationwide is the 28th.

From Monday, stricter rules will apply in Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, with other states due to follow on Tuesday. 

Despite a recent decline in the number of cases, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s state government has ordered the closure of many public venues – including cinemas, theatres, museums, inside spaces in zoos, swimming pools and other recreational facilities. Until now, these restrictions only applied in the centre and east of the state.

However, since the Covid ‘traffic light’ has been on red for several days and the state is bracing for a wave of Omicron infections, ministers have opted to bring in tougher rules statewide.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules and official advice for Christmas and New Year in Germany

Meanwhile, in Brandenburg, a limit of ten people will apply to vaccinated and recovered people at private meetings indoors or outdoors from Monday until at least January 11th. 

If there is someone in a household who is unvaccinated, the existing rules remain unchanged: only up to two people from another household are allowed to join private gatherings, and children under 14 are not counted.

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In Lower Saxony, too, only groups of up to ten vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to meet – not counting children. In Baden-Württemberg, a curfew in the catering industry from 10:30 pm until 5am will applies from Monday. On New Year’s Eve, however, the curfew will be slightly shorter – running between 1am and 5am. 

Opponents of Covid measures plan to mobilise in numerous German cities on Monday in protest against the rules.

Demonstrations are planned in several cities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Brandenburg, as well as in Mannheim in Baden-Württemberg.

On Boxing Day, several hundred people protested against Covid regulations in Berlin as well as in Schweinfurt. According to regional police, the Schweinfurt protest saw clashes between security forces and protestors. A young child was allegedly injured at the scene. 

READ ALSO: German health authority reports cases of Omicron in every state

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