Berlin, 29 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The number of people allowed to attend an event in a public or rented indoor space in Germany must not exceed 50, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers decided during a conference on Tuesday as coronavirus cases rose across the country.
Following the discussions by video, Merkel noted a clear rise in the number of infections, particularly in dense conurbations, but she also said that a renewed shutdown as imposed in the spring should be avoided.
Outbreaks would instead be contained with targeted local measures.
Germany had come through the summer well, but would be facing “difficult times” through the autumn and winter, the chancellor said.
The new restrictions will apply when new infections rise to more than 35 per 100,000 residents in a given area and explicitly excludes private property.
A recommendation is being issued with respect to private homes calling for a limit of 25 people per gathering.
Further measures will be imposed in any area where new infections rise above 50 per 100,000 residents, with the limit on public or rented space lowered to 25 people and the recommendation for the limit in private homes reduced to 10.
There will be exceptions for events registered in advance that make use of hygiene plans approved by public health bodies.
The measures were hammered out during talks throughout the day aimed at reaching a common position between the governments of the 16 states that are responsible for health policy and the federal government in Berlin.
Schools and child day care centres should not be closed completely in the future, Merkel said, while calling for a test strategy for teachers and pupils, along with “certain behaviour when a case of infection occurs.”
Ahead of the discussions, Merkel was reported to be seeking agreement on stricter measures, such as restrictions on alcohol sales.
The talks, which have been a steady fixture in Germany’s attempts to coordinate a response to the pandemic, come as the number of new infections recorded over a 24-period once again surpassed 2,000.
The figure hit 2,089 for the 24 hours up to midnight on Monday, according to the institute responsible for disease control.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported that at least 287,421 had been shown to be infected with the virus to date. Some 254,200 have come through the illness, while 9,471 have died.
German medical officials have argued repeatedly that gatherings such as weddings and family reunions are a key source of new infections.
In Berlin, the authorities moved to impose a fine of 5,000 euros (5,900 dollars) on a venue that organized a dance party.
The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein said it was ready to hit people providing false identification to restaurants – which are obliged to take patrons’ details – with a fine of 1,000 euros. Other states have opted for much lower fines down to 50 euros.
By contrast, the state of Saxony-Anhalt is not to impose any fines at all for providing false identification information, as it has recently done away with the requirement to provide such information to restauranteurs.