Curfews and caps on parties: Berlin and Frankfurt tighten coronavirus rules

New curfews for bars and cafes, and tighter rules on social gatherings, were announced for Berlin and Frankfurt on Tuesday as authorities tackled coronavirus spikes.

Curfews and caps on parties: Berlin and Frankfurt tighten coronavirus rules
In Berlin a curfew will be in place in bars and restaurants. Photo: DPA

In Berlin, the restrictions on meeting others will be tighter at night, between 11pm and 6am, when they are limited to five people from different households, or people from two households.

During the day, groups of up to 50 will still be permitted, although indoors the cap is 10. Previously the limit for indoor gatherings was 25.

An 11pm curfew on bars, restaurants and shops was also introduced after the capital saw the virus's reproduction rate hit 1.26, meaning each infected person is passing it to more than one other person.

According to the Berlin Senate's decision, exceptions are planned for petrol stations, but these are no longer allowed to sell alcohol at night. Pharmacies are also exempt.

The measures are mainly aimed at clamping down on private and illegal parties, which the Berlin authorities see as driving the infection rates up. They are to apply from Saturday – and are initially in place until October 31st.

Berlin tightened measures in the city just last week. They included compulsory masks in offices. However, figures have continued to worry authorities. There have been around 1,500 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the last seven days in the capital.

And the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days has reached a value of 44.2. In the inner city districts the numbers are significantly higher than on the outskirts, with the popular district of Neukölln in particular standing out with 87.3.

READ ALSO: 'Stricter than other German cities': These are Berlin's new coronavirus measures

“The 7-day incidence in Berlin and Bremen is considerably higher, in Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse moderately higher than the national mean 7-day incidence,” said the Robert Koch Institute in its latest situation report. 

Meanwhile, Frankfurt announced a 10pm curfew for restaurants, banned alcohol consumption in public places and made masks obligatory in busy shopping areas.

READ ALSO: 'More masks, less parties': Germany limits events and family gatherings to curb coronavirus

Other parts of Europe are also increasing measures.

From Friday, Belgians will be restricted to unmasked contact with just three people in their personal “bubble”, down from five, and an 11pm curfew on bars and cafes in Brussels will be extended to the rest of the country.

Belgium has recorded more than 30,000 new cases since September 20, and 500 hospitalisations in the first week of October.

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Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

Three years after Germany introduced a series of protective measures against the coronavirus, the last are set to be repealed on Friday.

Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

The remaining restrictions – or the requirement to wear a mask in surgeries, clinics and nursing homes – are falling away a couple of days after German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) made an announcement that the Covid-19 pandemic is “over.”

“We have successfully managed the pandemic in Germany,” said Lauterbach at a press conference on Wednesday.

In light of low infection numbers and virus variants deemed to be less dangerous, Germany has been steadily peeling away the last of its longstanding measures. 

READ ALSO: Germany monitoring new Covid variant closely, says Health Minister

The obligation to wear a mask on public transport was lifted on February 2nd. 

During the height of the pandemic between 2020 and 2021, Germany introduced its strictest measures, which saw the closure of public institutions including schools and daycare centres (Kitas).

“The strategy of coping with the crisis had been successful overall,” said Lauterbach, while also admitting: “I don’t believe that the long school closures were entirely necessary.”

Since the first coronavirus cases in Germany were detected in January 2020, there have been over 38 million reported cases of the virus, and 171,272 people who died from or with the virus, according to the Robert Koch Institute. 

Voluntary measures

In surgeries and clinics, mask rules can remain in place on a voluntary basis – which some facilities said they would consider based on their individual situations. 

“Of course, practices can stipulate a further obligation to wear masks as part of their house rules, and likewise everyone can continue to wear a mask voluntarily,” the head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Andreas Gassen, told DPA.

But Gassen said it was good there would no longer be an “automatic obligation”, and that individuals could take the responsibility of protecting themselves and others into their own hands. 

READ ALSO: Is the pandemic over in Germany?

“Hospitals are used to establishing hygiene measures to protect their patients, even independently of the coronavirus,” the head of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, told DPA.

With the end of the last statutory Covid measures, he said, we are entering “a new phase” in dealing with this illness. 

“Hospitals will then decide individually according to the respective situation which measures they will take,” he said, for example based on the ages and illnesses of the patients being treated.