In Brief: Chancellor Merkel announces new restrictions as coronavirus cases increase

The chancellor told reporters she and state premiers want to take targeted, regional action to avoid a second, countrywide shutdown.

Photo by Christine Jou on Unsplash

 

By Sylvia Cunningham, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Kate Brady

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new restrictions on Tuesday to try and tamp down the country’s rising COVID-19 rate, including limiting the number of people allowed at parties.

After meeting with the state premiers, Merkel told reporters they want to take targeted, regional action to avoid a second, countrywide shutdown.

In places where the seven-day incidence rate is higher than 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, German federal and state leaders agreed to restrict the number of people at parties held in public spaces and rented rooms to 50.

At that incidence rate, Merkel also “strongly recommended” to cap private celebrations in one’s home to 25 people.

If the seven-day incidence rate rises to 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, parties in public spaces or rented rooms are restricted to 25 people, and Merkel added people are urged to cap at-home parties to 10.

In light of rising cases in Berlin, however, state officials decided late Tuesday to take the new guidance a step further.

Starting on Saturday, regardless of the seven-day incidence rate, private gatherings held outside must be limited to 50 people and those held inside must be limited to 25. In addition, the contact information of all attendees must be documented for get-togethers with 10 or more people.

The Berlin Senate also decided to extend protections for Berlin renters because of the pandemic. Rents in state-owned buildings cannot be raised at least through the end of the year, and landlords are being asked to postpone action on late payments.

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State leaders also agreed in their meeting with Chancellor Merkel to begin imposing fines on people who give fake information when dining at restaurants.

The requirement has been for individuals going to restaurants or for one person per group of patrons to write down their names and contact details so that officials can get in touch in case of coronavirus exposure.

But the law hasn’t kept people from providing fictitious data, officials complain. Berlin started issuing fines to stop that practice earlier this month.

Some state leaders want fines of up to 1,000 euros for violators.

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The wait for Berlin’s BER airport is almost over.

The first flight to take off from Berlin’s new airport will be operated by easyJet on Nov. 1, but the long-awaited airport will be far from full capacity.

Airport Director Engelbert Lütke Daldrup told reporters on Tuesday that only a quarter of the usual number of passengers is expected in Berlin in the coming winter months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But with new beginnings at BER, comes an end for Tegel Airport on Nov. 8. As part of the #DankeTegel initiative, members of the public can say farewell to TXL on the observation deck in the airport’s final days.

This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.

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