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First town in Germany imposes lockdown

March 18, 2020

France, Austria, Spain and Italy have put curfews in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, but Germany has yet to follow. One small town in Bavaria, however, has forbidden people to leave their house without a reason.

Mitterteich | Coronavirus
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Karmann

The German town of Mitterteich became the first in Germany to order a curfew aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, officials announced on Wednesday.

Residents of the small Bavarian town will have to carry a letter from their employer on their way to and from work. People will also be allowed to go shopping for essentials and to make deliveries.

People seen outside for other reasons could be questioned by the police under the new policy, which will be enforced from Thursday onwards.

"Leaving your house without a valid reason is forbidden," authorities in the district of Tirschenreuth, near the Czech border, announced.

The town has 6,500 residents. In the district there are 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The lockdown will last until April 2 at the earliest.

'Take this seriously'

The measures follow the example of several other European countries, but are a first within Germany.

France, Italy, Austria and Spain have all imposed similar lockdowns, but so far Germany has shied away from such drastic measures. Instead, people have been asked to work from home and avoid unnecessary social contact without going into full lockdown.

"Think about your health and your fellow citizens and please take these restrictions seriously," Tirschenreuth Mayor Roland Grillmeier told local newspaper the Münchner Merkur.

Grillmeier sees the measures as preventative, hoping they may prevent a wider spread in the small town. Cases in Tirschenreuth doubled on Wednesday from the day before.

Citizens of the town were being informed about the new regulations by firefighters' announcements and by leaflets through the doors.

ed/rc (dpa, Reuters)

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