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‘More masks, less alcohol’: German state that led first lockdown to re-impose rules as cases surge

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
21 September 2020, Bavaria, Munich: Passers-by walk across the Marienplatz in the heart of the Bavarian capital past the town hall. In order to contain the corona virus, the city of Munich wants to make masks mandatory in certain public places and streets in the city centre - if the number of new infections remains at a high level. Photo: Peter Kneffel/dpa (Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Bavaria approved a number of new COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday. Photo: Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images

The southern German state of Bavaria was the first one to announce a complete shutdown of public life in March, after people failed to heed warnings to stay home and practice social distancing.

On Tuesday, Bavarian state premier Markus Söder and his cabinet approved a number of new restrictions aimed at curbing a recent surge in coronavirus infections.

Söder said in a press conference that returning holiday makers are a key reason for the spike in the numbers, as well as general carelessness, especially among young people.

The tighter regulations, which Söder described as the basic principle of “more masks, less alcohol” will come into force later this week for areas, municipalities and communities with a high instance of new infections — areas reporting more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

Watch: What is the latest guidance on masks in the UK?

They will include mandatory mask wearing in crowded public spaces, as well as a ban on the consumption of alcohol in public, an 11pm curfew for bars and restaurants, and only five instead of 10 people will be allowed to meet — or maximum two households.

READ MORE: Germany’s top virologist doesn't envisage a second national lockdown

Indoor parties should be restricted to 25 people — down from 100 — and outdoor parties should be limited to 50 people, from the previously allowed 200 attendees.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state — Germany’s largest by size — has reported some 65,000 virus cases, and the numbers are climbing.

Data from Bavaria’s Office for Health and Food Safety showed that 47% of all infections in the last week was among 15-to-34-year-olds.

“We are at a very tense fork in the road,” Söder said, adding that people should not lose patience in the fight against coronavirus, so as to avoid a second lockdown at all costs.

Watch: Germany's annual Oktoberfest canceled for first the time since WWII

Despite the cancellation of Oktoberfest in Munich, authorities were concerned about the amount of people gathering in the city’s pubs last weekend to celebrate what would have been the opening weekend of the world’s biggest beer festival.

READ MORE: Oktoberfest cancellation a blow for Germany’s beer brewers

German authorities reported 1,821 new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning. The country so far has had 276,779 cases in total, and 9,401 deaths from COVID-19 to date, according to Johns Hopkins University data.