German chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting the leaders of the country’s 16 states in Berlin on Wednesday — in person for the first time since the pandemic began — to try and reach a consensus on how to move forward with the current inconsistent muddle of new coronavirus restrictions.
Many state leaders are pushing for uniform nationwide regulations instead of the current confusing patchwork of rules.
Last week, the majority of states slapped accommodation bans on people from other coronavirus “hotspot” areas of Germany, meaning people from high-risk areas were forbidden to stay in hotels or eat out without presenting a negative coronavirus test and then quarantining in their hotels.
The travel industry, which was banking on business increasing during the Autumn school holidays over the next two weeks, has come out in force to demand these restrictions be abolished.
The accommodation restrictions are high on the agenda at Merkel’s meeting today, with leaders split on the issue.
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According to newspaper Der Spiegel, the federal government wants to beef up mandatory mask wearing and introduce a curfew in the catering industry if the number of new infections exceeds 35 per 100,000 inhabitants in a region in the space of seven days.
Infections in Germany have risen significantly in the past weeks. On Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute reported over 5,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the first time since the height of the pandemic in April this year.
Deaths from the virus also increased, from 13 on Tuesday to 43 on Wednesday.
According to Johns Hopkins University data Germany has had 337,314 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and 9,682 deaths.
The surge in cases prompted Berlin to impose an 11pm curfews on bars, restaurants and alcohol sales last week. Munich has instigated a 10pm curfew.
The bans caused an immediate outcry from Berlin bar owners, who said that after struggling with lockdowns, then reducing the number of tables to obey social distancing rules, the curfew could be the final nail in their coffin.
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