Bavaria to move into tougher lockdown ahead of Christmas

Germany's Bavaria region announced tougher coronavirus rules including local curfews and partial school closures on Sunday as case numbers remained high across the country despite five weeks of national restrictions.

Bavaria to move into tougher lockdown ahead of Christmas
Markus Söder. Photo: DPA

From Wednesday, Bavarians will be asked to stay home unless they have a valid reason such as grocery shopping or visiting a doctor, state premier Markus Soeder told a press conference.

“The situation is unfortunately serious … We must do more, we must act,” Soeder said, after insisting that a national partial shutdown introduced in early November was not enough.

Under a so-called “lockdown light”, cultural and sporting facilities as well as restaurants and bars have been shut, with public gatherings limited but schools and shops remaining open.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states agreed this week to extend the partial shutdown until January 10.


But under Germany's federal system, each state ultimately has the right to decide whether to impose the rules.

Soeder said a curfew will now apply in Bavaria after 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) in so-called hotspots with more than 200 new virus cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

Online lessons

Schools will be asked to switch some lessons online for older age groups, while those in hotspots will need to move all teaching online for older students.

The number of new infections in Germany has plateaued in recent weeks, with October's exponential growth brought to a halt.

But the number of infections remains high, with total case numbers passing the one-million mark last week and new cases regularly topping 20,000 a day.

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care nationwide has soared from just over 360 in early October to more than 4,000 currently.


The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre reported 17,767 new Covid-19 infections within 24 hours on Sunday — a significant increase on last Sunday's 14,611 new cases.

Numbers are usually lower on Sundays because of a lag in reporting new cases over the weekend.

'Very tense'

RKI head Lothar Wieler said Thursday it was vital for new cases to start declining if the infection rate was to be brought under control.

“The situation remains very tense,” with numbers “not falling noticeably”, Wieler said.

He urged Germans to wear masks and practice social distancing seriously.

“We are not helplessly at the mercy of the virus,” he said.

National measures agreed by Merkel and state premiers restrict public gatherings to five people from two households, but envisage increasing the limit to 10 people over Christmas and New Year.

Soeder said this relaxation would apply in Bavaria only from December 23 to 26, with the tougher rules kicking back in for New Year's Eve.

Some states, including Thuringia and the city-state of Berlin, have introduced tougher rules for the Christmas period.

Soeder has won plaudits for his tough line in Bavaria since the start of the pandemic, often going it alone to introduce new rules that other states adopted later.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden’s Covid laws really means

With the expiry of Sweden's two temporary Covid-19 laws, the downgrading of the virus's threat classification, and the end of the last travel restrictions, April, officially at least, marks the end of the pandemic. We explain what it means.

End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden's Covid laws really means

What are the two laws which expire on April 1st? 

Sweden’s parliament voted last week to let the two temporary laws put in place to battle the Covid-19 pandemic expire on April 1st.

The first law is the so-called Covid-19 law, or “the law on special restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 illness”, which was used during the pandemic to temporarily empower the authorities to limit the number of visitors to shops, gyms, and sports facilities. It also gave the government power to limit the number of people who could gather in public places like parks and beaches. 

The second law was the “law on temporary restrictions at serving places”. This gave the authorities, among other things, the power to limit opening times, and force bars and restaurants to only serve seated customers.  

What impact will their expiry have? 

The immediate impact on life in Sweden will be close to zero, as the restrictions imposed on the back of these two laws were lifted months ago. But it does means that if the government does end up wanting to bring back these infection control measures, it will have to pass new versions of the laws before doing so. 

How is the classification of Covid-19 changing? 

The government decided at the start of February that it would stop classifying Covid-19 both as a “critical threat to society” and “a disease that’s dangerous to the public” on April 1st.

These classifications empowered the government under the infectious diseases law that existed in Sweden before the pandemic to impose health checks on inbound passengers, place people in quarantine, and ban people from entering certain areas, among other measures. 

What impact will this change have? 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a disease that’s dangerous to the public”, or an allmänfarlig sjukdom, people who suspect they have caught the virus, are no longer expected to visit a doctor or get tested, and they cannot be ordered to get tested by a court on the recommendation of an infectious diseases doctor. People with the virus can also no longer be required to aid with contact tracing or to go into quarantine. 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a critical threat to society”, or samhällsfarlig, the government can no longer order health checks at border posts, quarantine, or ban people from certain areas. 

The end of Sweden’s last remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions

Sweden’s last remaining travel restriction, the entry ban for non-EU arrivals, expired on March 31st.  This means that from April 1st, Sweden’s travel rules return to how they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

No one will be required to show a vaccination or test certificate to enter the country, and no one will be barred from entering the country because their home country or departure country is not deemed to have a sufficiently good vaccination program or infection control measures. 

Does that mean the pandemic is over? 

Not as such. Infection rates are actually rising across Europe on the back of yet another version of the omicron variant. 

“There is still a pandemic going on and we all need to make sure that we live with it in a balanced way,” the Public Health Agency’s director-general, Karin Tegmark Wisell, told SVT

Her colleague Sara Byfors told TT that this included following the “fundamental recommendation to stay home if you are sick, so you don’t spread Covid-19 or any other diseases”.