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Bavaria plans coronavirus curfews in some hotspots

December 6, 2020

Facing persistently high case numbers, Bavaria's cabinet is planning Germany's toughest pandemic strictures from Wednesday, even including night curfews. The state of Thuringia is also pondering tougher rules.

Deutschland Markus Söder - Bavaria's State Premier Markus Söder wears a face mask in the colors of Bavaria
Söder reiterated his stance that Germany's partial lockdown had proven insufficient Image: Getty Images/AFP/P. Kneffel

Bavaria is set to be placed under the strictest coronavirus measures in Germany from Wednesday, including local curfews in hotspots and partial school closures. 

The southern region, with a population of 13 million, currently has one of the highest daily rates of infection in the country. 

Emerging from a Bavarian cabinet video conference Sunday, state premier Markus Söder said older school classes — from grade 8 onwards — would alternate between attending school or being taught remotely, especially if infection rates rose. 

Germany's current "partial lockdown" meeting limit of five persons from two households would be relaxed in Bavaria only for four days over Christmas — to 10 persons — but not for New Year, he announced. 

Read more: Who is Markus Söder, Bavaria’s premier and possible Merkel successor?

Bavarians will be asked to stay home unless for valid reasons such as grocery shopping, visiting the doctor or attending work, said Söder, from the Christian Social Union (CSU) — the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in Bavaria.

In "coronavirus hotspots," night-time curfews would apply from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Three such locations are the Regensburg area and the cities of Passau and Nuremberg. 

Bavaria's Munich-based assembly will be asked to ratify the moves on Tuesday. 

That would bind Söder's cabinet partners, the Free Voters (Freie Wähler), conservatives led by Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger, who in October had encouraged Bavarians to go skiing and "not let the joy of living be spoiled." 

"We must do more, we must act," insisted Söder on Sunday as nationwide some intensive care wards neared capacity. There were 482 deaths reported on Saturday. 

Read more: Opinion — Europe can only beat coronavirus together

"The situation is unfortunately serious," said Söder, reiterating his stance that Germany's partial lockdown, introduced by early November by state premiers and Chancellor Angela Merkel, had proven insufficient 

Last week total case numbers passed the one million mark, with new cases topping 20,000 a day. Sunday's 17,767 figure was up markedly on last Sunday's 14,611 cases. 

Karl Lauterbach, health expert for Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) who are partners in Merkel's federal cabinet, on Sunday endorsed Bavaria's moves

Hesitant Thuringia ponders, too 

Bodo Ramelow, the Left party premier of Thuringia state, who in the past had cautioned to stay proportional in response, was on Sunday quoted as intimating his cabinet too would not relax contact rules over Christmas and New Year.

Read more: COVID-19: Protests and death threats in east German hotspot 

"There will be no relief for Christmas and New Year," he reportedly told the Thüringer Zeitung newspaper.  

His chancellery chief Benjamin-Imanuel Hoff in a tweet said Ramelow's cabinet would on Wednesday discuss the viral spread "in view especially of the very high infection numbers on [Thuringia's] the borders with Saxony and Bavaria." 

Germany's benchmark Robert Koch Institute on Sunday ranked Bavaria third among states with the highest new infection rates — or incidence — over the past seven days — at 175 per 100,000 inhabitants.  

Worst affected was Saxony state on 301, followed by Berlin city-state on 182, with Thuringia state on 167 per 100,000 inhabitants. 

Located in Thuringia is Hildburghausen, a county ranked by the RKI as Germany's fourth-worst coronavirus hotspot, where anti-lockdown protestors marched in November, singing until dispersed by police using pepper spray. 

Two hotspots in Saxony state are the counties of Eastern Ore Mountains (Osterzgebirge) and Bautzen, both also far above 400 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Meanwhile, Saxony's state premier, Michael Kretschmer, of Merkel's Christian Democrats, told Germany ZDF public television on Sunday that his cabinet in Dresden would need to readjust its policy for coronavirus hotspots.  

ipj/rc (dpa, KNA, AFP, Reuters)