An increasing number of Germany’s 16 states have decided to begin enforcing mandatory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops. Saxony was the first state to introduce such regulations, coming into effect on Monday (20 April).
Bavaria also announced their new requirements on Monday followed by 9 more states including Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, and Hamburg.
Bavaria also cancelled this year’s Oktoberfest celebrations set to begin in mid-September in Munich. State premier Markus Söder made the announcement on Tuesday (21 April), explaining “a beer tent lives from proximity, from not keeping a distance.” This is the first cancellation of the Oktoberfest in more than 70 years.
However, there are rumours that the Bundesliga could soon re-start up. Despite famously agreeing on little when it comes to combating the spread of COVID-19, Bavarian premier Markus Söder (CSU) and North Rhine-Westphalian leader Armin Laschet (CDU) have both said that ‘ghost games’ played behind closed doors could begin in early May. German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has also voiced support for the plan.
Even so, the authorities have to approve the Bundesliga’s plans to ensure proper hygiene and sanitation, and some have been quick to criticise the organisation’s plans and political lobbying, wondering why football should begin again while churches, schools, and daycare centres remain closed.
The Bundesliga intends to regularly test football players, but the question remains whether there are enough. Experts in the German infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute, are critical of the move. Lars Schaade, RKI’s vice president, said, “I do not see why certain sections of the population, whether they are athletes – one can think of anything else that might have a certain social interest – should be routinely screened. (Sarah Lawton | EURACTIV.de)