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A view of the Cologne Cathedral
Image: DW/D. Dedovic

Cologne exceeds key coronavirus threshold

October 10, 2020

The western German city of Cologne has exceeded a critical COVID-19 infection rate, joining Berlin and Frankfurt. The city recently imposed new restrictions in anticipation of the threshold being breached.

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The western German city of Cologne exceeded the key level of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days on Saturday, health authorities have announced.

The North Rhine-Westphalian State Center for Health reported that there were 54.8 cases per 100,000 residents.

Read more: Berlin and Frankfurt both hit German coronavirus risk threshold

Cologne recently instituted a nighttime ban on the consumption of alcohol on streets and squares after 10 p.m., a weekend ban on selling alcohol at party hot spots and a limit of five people from different households meeting in public.

"We are in a serious phase of the pandemic," Mayor Henriette Reker wrote on Twitter on Friday, hours before Cologne exceeded the threshold, warning that more measures may soon be necessary.

The rate of 50 infections per 100,000 in seven days is how Germany determines which foreign cities, regions and countries are added to the government list of "risk zones." Travelers arriving in Germany from a risk zone must quarantine until they can provide a negative test result.

As things stand, each German state can decide what the high rates mean for domestic travel. The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein brought in a requirement for travelers from Berlin to test negative or quarantine when the capital exceeded the threshold earlier in the week.

Read more: Traveling to Germany: Coronavirus restrictions — questions and answers

Cases rising across Germany

Infection rates across Germany have risen dramatically this week, going from 2,828 new reported daily cases on Wednesday to 4,721 on Saturday.

At least three German cities have now exceeded the threshold, including Frankfurt and Berlin. Cologne exceeded the same threshold twice in March and April, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in Germany.

Cologne is the heart of Germany's Carnival, which normally kicks off on November 11 before the main event in February. The new number of cases may dash carnival-lovers' hopes that the annual festival can take place in some form in 2021.

Read more: Can Germany keep its Carnival events small?

More than 9,600 people have died from the virus in Germany. Overall, at least 320,478 people have been diagnosed since January, most of whom have recovered, according to figures compiled by the disease control agency the Robert Koch Institute.

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