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Berlin becomes first German state to pull emergency brake on lockdown relaxations

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

On 8th March, many German states began to ease select coronavirus restrictions, as part of a step-by-step introduction of relaxations. However, on Tuesday, following a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, Berlin has become the first German state to pull the emergency brake on its easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Reichstag building. Photo: makyvontravel from Pixabay

On Tuesday, following the rise of the 7-day incidence of infections to 91.3 per 100,000 inhabitants in Berlin, Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, stated that for now there would be no further easing of restrictions in the German capital. Therefore, the opening of the culture and gastronomy sectors has been put on hold for the time being, meaning restaurants, cafes, cinemas, concerts halls, sports centres, outdoor sports facilities and non-essential shops must remain closed.

In spite of this, one relaxation of the rules will not be lifted. School pupils in years 10 to 13 will be allowed to continue to go to school following a “Wechselunterricht” policy, in which half the class attends in-person classes while the other half works at home. Years 7 to 9 have been told they will not be able to attend any in-person classes, despite being told previously that they would return to school next week. Berlin’s Education Ministry plans to bring all year groups back to school in shifts after Easter “should the infection situation allow it.”

With cases rising throughout Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) believes that Germany is now entering its third wave of the virus. This week, RKI released a prognosis that there would be more cases in early April than there were at the peak of the crisis in late December, as the B.1.1.7 variant (first detected in the UK) is believed to have a higher transmission rate. The more-contagious B.1.1.7 variant now accounts for nearly three-quarters of new COVID-19 cases in Germany.

This weekend, other German states, such as Hamburg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse, have paused the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, as the third coronavirus wave gains momentum throughout Germany.

Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, stated that for now “we have to remain cautious” as the current coronavirus situation is very “sensitive.”


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