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Coronavirus: Berlin imposes strict night-time restrictions

October 6, 2020

Berlin has announced new restrictions to help combat a growing number of infections. The measures will hit bars, restaurants and local stores as well as restricting gatherings.

Late night shop in Berlin
Image: Wolfram Steinberg/dpa/picture-alliance

Coronavirus surges in Berlin

The German capital introduced a new curfew for businesses and other tough restrictions on Tuesday, in a bid to curb an explosion of daily infections.

Restaurants, bars, local shops and other businesses will have to shut during between 23:00 p.m. local time until 06:00 a.m., the Berlin Senate announced. The city's governing body said the restrictions will come into effect on October 10 and will run until October 31.

During the curfew-period, private gatherings of people will be limited to five for those living in separate households. Meeting up in parks during night time hours will also be banned.

Outside of curfew hours, gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted indoors, down from 25 people.

Exceptions are planned for gas stations, but these will not be able to sell alcohol during curfew hours.

Read more: Coronavirus: German cities issue 35,000 fines to rulebreakers

Four districts are 'risk zones'

The restrictions were decided after the senate met twice on Tuesday to discuss its response to curb spiking infection rates. 

It is the first time since the introduction of its traffic light alert system that two of its warning lights are on red: both the R-value, the virus' basic reproduction value, and the incidence value that shows the number of cases per 100,000 residents within the space of a week.

Four districts of Berlin, with a combined population of 1 million, are now classified as high-risk zones, meaning they exceeded 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for seven days in a row.

This is the threshold Germany uses to define areas abroad as high risk; German residents returning from such areas are required to self-isolate for 14 days, or to obtain a test and demonstrate they are healthy after a shorter period of self-isolation.

Read more: Germany: Masks mandatory in Bundestag as Berlin coronavirus cases rise

Fears that Berlin is 'losing control'

In response to the situation in Berlin, the northern states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony introduced compulsory quarantines or tests for domestic travelers from the capital.

Rhineland-Palatinate has also pushed ahead with this course of action, albeit with exceptions.

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder has expressed concern about the growing virus transmission rate in Berlin: "I fear that [Berlin] is on the edge of losing control" he said during a state cabinet meeting.

"We definitely do not want to have a situation like in Madrid, we do not want a situation like in Paris, where there has to be a complete lockdown, where public life has to be reset to zero," Söder added.

Read more: Germany: Thousands protest for and against coronavirus measures

Is Germany ready for the winter?

Kate Martyr Editor and video producer at DW's Asia Desk and News Digital