Updated: 5 days ago
By Stephanie Nourse
Bavaria will be Germany’s first federal state to go on lockdown in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The state-wide curfew will initially apply for two weeks.
Munich, capital of Bavaria. Photo: designerpoint via Pixabay
The ongoing pandemic has taken its toll on the country, with the number of coronavirus cases in Germany currently standing at 19,848 and with 67 deaths caused (as of 21 March), according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Germany has already shut schools and imposed restrictions on restaurants and shops in a bid to tackle the crisis. However, the failure of many citizens to comply with social distancing rules has sparked outrage in some quarters. Playgrounds have remained open in many neighbourhoods and several people are continuing to meet in groups in parks and on the streets despite appeals from Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for citizens to restrict contact with others and to stay at home.
Speaking at a live press conference in Munich on Friday afternoon, Markus Sӧder, Bavaria’s chief minister, announced the new restrictions on public life. Exceptions include commuting to work, necessary shopping trips, visits to the doctor or pharmacy and assisting others. Exercising and taking walks outside may only be done alone or with other members of the household. “For responsible people, not much will change”, declared Söder, “but for the irresponsible, there is now a clear set of rules.”
The extreme measures are a response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in Bavaria. From Thursday to Friday alone, the number of confirmed cases rose by 35% and the death toll in the federal state increased from 10 to 15.
Sӧder added that police would ensure that Bavarian citizens comply with the new measures, threatening heavy fines in the event of violations. The conclusion to his speech, however, was hopeful, “You will get through this. There will be a Bavaria after coronavirus, but it will be an even stronger Bavaria, so long as we do not evade responsibility but rather if we act, if we do it together”. Bavaria’s decision comes ahead of a crisis meeting due to take place on Sunday between Angela Merkel and the country’s regional leaders. There are fears that a national lockdown looms, with Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, telling Der Spiegel that a country-wide curfew may be imposed on Germany’s 83 million citizens if they do not abide by social distancing regulations. Sunday, it seems, could prove a “decisive day”.