Bavaria to impose stricter coronavirus measures

Ten people may meet to celebrate Christmas, but only five for New Year's Eve.

Bavaria to impose stricter coronavirus measures

BERLIN — Bavaria will impose stricter measures during part of the holiday season as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

On Sunday, regional premier Markus Söder announced that Bavarians will only be allowed to leave their homes for good reasons, which include going to work or medical appointments, shopping and exercising. In-person teaching at high schools will be reduced for older pupils, but shops will remain open.

The new restrictions will apply from Wednesday until January 5 if the Bavarian parliament approves them on Tuesday. Lawmakers are expected to pass the measures.

Restrictions will be eased over Christmas, from December 23 to 26, to allow a maximum of 10 people — not including children under 14 — to gather. On New Year’s Eve, however, a maximum of five people from two households may meet up.

With its stricter measures, Bavaria goes further than the Christmas restrictions agreed by all 16 states and the federal government last month, which allowed for gatherings of 10 people between December 23 and January 1.

On Sunday, Söder said these measures were “simply not enough. We have to do more.” He added: “In Germany, a person dies of corona every four minutes.”

Söder — who widely considered to harbor ambitions to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor next year — also declared a “state of disaster” in Bavaria, which transfers more powers to the regional government.

Bavaria’s new rules also include a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in areas with a so-called incidence rate of more than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants over one week.

Across Bavaria, the incidence rate stood at more than 176 as of Monday but several municipal regions have registered far higher numbers. The region of Regen, by the Czech-German border, currently has the highest incidence rate in all of Germany at 580. In Regen and other hard-hit areas, local authorities have already imposed stricter measures.

Outside Bavaria, the federal city state of Berlin also decided to go further than the federal guidelines. Over the festive period, the local government will permit meetings of a maximum of five people from two households. Several senior politicians, including Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, have suggested stricter measures might be necessary nationwide.

On Monday, Germany registered 12,332 new infections and 147 deaths. While many of its neighboring countries imposed lockdowns and have now seen infection rates decline, Germany opted for a “partial” lockdown, with shops and schools largely remaining open, and its cases have stagnated at a relatively high level.