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Masks made compulsory in German Bundestag amid rise in Berlin Covid-19 cases

Politicians must now wear masks in the German Parliament building in a bid to slow rising levels of infection in the capital.

Masks made compulsory in German Bundestag amid rise in Berlin Covid-19 cases
Masks must now be worn in all areas of the German Bundestag. Photo: DPA

As of Tuesday morning, a mouth and nose covering is required in the Reichstag, the seat of German Bundestag.

Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) announced the decision on Monday, urging that the pandemic “should still be taken seriously”.

It comes as cases in Berlin continue to increase, with four areas becoming domestic risk zones after surpassing the boundary of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. 

The states of Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have recently announced that those returning from Mitte, Neukölln, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Tempelhof-Schöneberg must self-isolate for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

READ ALSO: 'Who's controlling it?': Why you could face domestic travel restrictions within Germany

The requirement for masks will be enforced until January 17th 2021 at the earliest, and breaches will be punished with a fine of up to €5,000. Those who continually refuse to adhere to the regulation risk being refused entry into the building. 

Masks must be worn in every area of the building, including corridors and lifts, and can only be taken off when seated and at a minimum distance of 1.5m from others. They may also be removed when speaking in the main chamber or directing a session. 

Those granted an exemption from wearing a mask will be asked to wear a visor. 

Vocabulary

der Bundestag – German Parliament 

die Mund-Nasen-Bedeckung – mouth and nose covering 

die Maskenpflicht  – mandatory mask-wearing

das Bußgeld – fine

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

 

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COVID-19

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.

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