How coronavirus restrictions have led to a renaissance of beer gardens in Germany

Fears about contracting coronavirus has driven a surge in demand for beer gardens across Germany.

How coronavirus restrictions have led to a renaissance of beer gardens in Germany
Photo: DPA

While little concrete is known about how covid-19 spreads, the risk of contracting the virus is significantly higher inside than outside. 

This has meant outdoor venues have experienced a surge in popularity – which is nowhere more evident than in the humble German Biergarten

Known as being synonymous with Bavaria, beer gardens are scattered all over Germany. 

Ingrid Hartges, managing director of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association, told the German Press Agency that beer gardens and outdoor terraces have not seen such an uptick in interest since the country put in place a smoking ban 

“This Bavarian invention has started a triumphal march across Germany,” Hartges said. 

“You can enjoy a wonderful vacation from everyday life to relax for a few hours in the evening.” 

With coronavirus concerns prompting many Germans to vacation at home in 2020, plenty have set their sights on beer gardens to get a taste of that Urlaubsgefühl (holiday feeling) at home. 

In Bavaria, some beer gardens have been in use since the 19th century – while others have sprung up in recent years. 

Councils and municipal authorities across Germany, sensing the importance of allowing social interaction while minimising infection risk, have begun approving the use of public space for commercial premises – for instance allowing tables and chairs to be placed in public parks, squares and on sidewalks.

‘Corona Beer Garden’

One of the country’s most famous beer garden during the corona pandemic is not in Bavaria at all. 

Cologne’s ‘Corona Beer Garden’ launched once restrictions were lifted and has been fully booked ever since. 

The ‘garden’ is placed along a 270-metre long blocked section of road, which can accommodate up to 450 people in the city’s centre. 

The 'Corona Beer garden' in Cologne. Image: DPA

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant