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Masks made compulsory in German Bundestag amid rise in Berlin Covid-19 cases

Politicians must now wear masks in the German Parliament building in a bid to slow rising levels of infection in the capital.

Masks made compulsory in German Bundestag amid rise in Berlin Covid-19 cases
Masks must now be worn in all areas of the German Bundestag. Photo: DPA

As of Tuesday morning, a mouth and nose covering is required in the Reichstag, the seat of German Bundestag.

Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) announced the decision on Monday, urging that the pandemic “should still be taken seriously”.

It comes as cases in Berlin continue to increase, with four areas becoming domestic risk zones after surpassing the boundary of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. 

The states of Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have recently announced that those returning from Mitte, Neukölln, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Tempelhof-Schöneberg must self-isolate for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

READ ALSO: 'Who's controlling it?': Why you could face domestic travel restrictions within Germany

The requirement for masks will be enforced until January 17th 2021 at the earliest, and breaches will be punished with a fine of up to €5,000. Those who continually refuse to adhere to the regulation risk being refused entry into the building. 

Masks must be worn in every area of the building, including corridors and lifts, and can only be taken off when seated and at a minimum distance of 1.5m from others. They may also be removed when speaking in the main chamber or directing a session. 

Those granted an exemption from wearing a mask will be asked to wear a visor. 

Vocabulary

der Bundestag – German Parliament 

die Mund-Nasen-Bedeckung – mouth and nose covering 

die Maskenpflicht  – mandatory mask-wearing

das Bußgeld – fine

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

 

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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