German government suggests limits for parties to curb COVID-19 — report | News | DW | 29.09.2020

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German government suggests limits for parties to curb COVID-19 — report

Berlin wants to curb private parties and restrict alcohol sales in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to German media reports. Merkel has warned that daily cases may rise to 19,200 by Christmas.

The German government is expected to propose a raft of stricter coronavirus-related regulations during talks between state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.

According to a draft resolution seen by news agency DPA and the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, the federal government is in favor of rules that would limit private parties to 25 people, while parties held in public spaces would be capped at 50. 

In order to minimize the risk of infection at restaurants and bars in hard-hit areas, the draft also proposed "time-limited bans on the sale of alcohol." 

The new regulations would only come into effect in cities and regions where the number of infections rises to 50 per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of seven days, according to the reports.

The government's draft resolution also proposes restricting the number of people at festivals if a state reports more than 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of seven days. 

The critical number of new infections for this regulation to come into force will be negotiated at the conference.

Read moreGerman Foreign Minister Maas in coronavirus quarantine as a precaution

Germany's coronavirus superspreader wedding

Improving contact tracing

The federal government's draft continues to call for a a regional approach instead of blanket measures to deal with rising infections. However, the draft resolution says that the easing of restrictions that are currently in place should not be permitted.

The proposals also calls for stricter measures to improve contact tracing and ensure people provide accurate information. When visiting bars, restaurants, and events, people would be obligated to provide their "correct and complete personal data and contact information" which helps in contact tracing in case of a local outbreak.

Regulatory authorities would also be allowed to impose a €50 ($58) fine in cases where restaurants are provided with false personal information.

Read moreCoronavirus: Fear and confusion over looming border closures in tri-border region

Butting heads with states

It remains to be seen whether state leaders will sign off on the federal government's new package of regulations. The proposed COVID-19 curbs will be discussed at the meeting on Tuesday afternoon, which will be held via video conference.

According to Bild, the state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate opposes imposing stricter rules in private spaces, while the head of the northern state of Lower Saxony does not want to have fixed limits in the resolution.

Currently, each of Germany's 16 states sets their own limit on the number of people who can attend private parties and events at large venues. States with lower infection rates have tended to push back against federal rules concerning celebrations, and attempts to push for nationwide rules have fallen through in the past.

Weddings, parties and other private gatherings have been blamed for fueling a rise in COVID-19 cases across Germany. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the country's most populous state, an outbreak at a wedding in the city of Hamm caused over 100 people to become infected, including 40 children. 

'Traffic light' warning system

Markus Söder, the state premier of Bavaria, has called for a nationwide standardized warning system that would be based on current infections. According to his proposed "corona traffic light" mechanism, strict measures would be imposed if the infection rate enters the "yellow" category and further tightened should it become "red."

Such a "traffic light" system already exists in some states.

On Monday, Merkel told members of her Christian Democrats Union (CDU) at a party conference that daily cases in Germany could hit 19,200 if the current trend continued.

"We must quickly contain the infections and intervene," Merkel said, according to the source quoted by news agency Reuters. "We must set priorities, namely keeping the economy running and keeping schools and nurseries open. Soccer is secondary to that for now."

adi/rs (AFP, dpa)

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