Post-summer COVID news: 85% of Germans in favour of recent additional COVID-19 measures

**This article is continuously updated with the latest developments.

According to the latest DeutschlandTrend poll, an overwhelming majority of Germans support instituting more coronavirus restrictions.

The survey asked respondents about the new restrictions to cap private gatherings in areas with high levels of infection.

85% of them agreed that this was going in the right direction in comparison to the 13% that believed it was going too far. 78% also think that there should be more coordination among Germany’s federal states, and 63% want to see the mask-wearing requirement extended to busy public streets.

New COVID-19 measures adopted

Those surveyed reacted to the new set of measures adopted by the federal government and states on 29 September.

“We want to act regionally specific, targeted,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters following the meeting.

Keeping the economy running and having as many children attending school are among the chancellor’s main priorities while avoiding a second lockdown. “For the rest, we have to see what we can afford,” she said.

Overall, the usual rules of maintaining distance and mask-wearing remain unchanged.

However, the states have reached an agreement to automatically institute new restrictions if infection thresholds are met locally. Districts with 35 new infections per 100,000 in seven days will see gatherings in public spaces limited to a maximum of 50 people. At 50 infections, the limit will decrease to 25.

The leaders additionally encouraged private gatherings to not cross the 25 person threshold. “Party yes, but smaller, less,” Bavarian leader Markus Söder summarised.

The 16 states also moved to introduce €50 fines for giving false contact details at a restaurant and have the option to institute bans on buying alcohol.

19,200 daily infections by Christmas?

This comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported by newspaper Bild  as saying that there would be 19,200 new infections a day by Christmas if Germany does not do more to deal with local outbreaks,during a call with some of her party’s top officials on 28 September.

The chancellor’s comments come at a time when Germany is registering more than 1,000 new COVID-19 infections each day.

The chancellor’s worst-case scenario predictions for Christmas would be more than three times higher than the previous peak in April, when new daily infections were clocked at over 6,000 in one day.

More recently, In likely her last general debate in the Bundestag on 30 September, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on MPs to take the coronavirus seriously. “We are currently seeing how caution is waning,” Merkel said, adding that “we are risking everything we have achieved in recent months.”.

Some regional leaders want stricter measures

For when German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is set to meet with Germany’s 16 state leaders on 29 September, a few regional leaders, though not all, would like to see stricter measures implemented across the country.

One such leader is Bavarian state premier Markus Söder (CSU), who called for a standardised nationwide traffic light system on 27 September as states currently have no uniform response to high levels of infections.

Under Söder’s proposal, the colour yellow would signify that a district had recorded more than 35 COVID-19 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. Spectators would be banned from sporting events and children older than 5th grade would have to wear masks in school.

Once a district registers more than 50 infections per 100,000 in seven days, the light would turn red, and the number of people allowed at gatherings would be halved. This level could also see bans on the sale of alcohol and curfews.

However, while Saxony’s state premier, Michael Kretschmer (CDU) trusts in the discipline of people, Saxony-Anhalt’s leader Reiner Haseloff (CDU) is calling on leaders to focus should be on a unified testing strategy.

Stricter measures in Bavaria?

Bavaria’s cabinet is expected to implement stricter coronavirus restrictions in the state for areas where there are more than 50 infections per 100,000 people over the course of seven days, State leader Markus Söder (CSU) announced on 21 September.

In these high-infection areas, masks will be required in crowded public areas, and there will also be a ban on alcohol.

The announcement came just hours after the city of Munich announced that masks will be mandatory in certain public spaces and streets in the city centre as of 24 Septemberas the rest of Germany continues to only require masks to be worn in indoor shopping areas and on public transport.

The new rules will be in place until the city’s infection rate goes below 50 new infections per 100,000 in the span of a week. Munich will also reinstitute contact restrictions, only allowing five people from two households to meet both in private and in public areas like restaurants.

Local and state health authorities get €4 billion boost

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a plan to support local and state health authorities to the tune of €4 billion, which will help finance 5,000 new jobs.

These authorities “played a very important role in keeping the incidence of infection largely under control in Germany,” Merkel said in a virtual call on Tuesday (8 September).

An impending second wave?

At the start of the summer, Germany largely appeared to have gotten the coronavirus under control with new cases number between 160 and 300 per day. Now, the infection rates have started to tick up with new infection numbers reaching close to 1,000 per day. On 28 August, there 2,162 new cases, on par with the daily infection rates in late April.

In their report published on 27 August, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) found that the increase in cases can largely be attributed to “a large number of smaller outbreak events in different districts” “which are connected with different situations, such as larger celebrations in the family and circle of friends.”

Another area of concern is tourists returning from high-risk areas, as the 27 August RKI report noted. Recently, Germany placed Spain, parts of France, and a host of other countries into the high risk category and required returning travellers be tested for the virus upon arrival.

As of 1 October, anyone travelling from these areas will be required to quarantine for at least five days before taking a test. The quarantine can only be ended with a negative test at least five days after their arrival.

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To help stem the spread, Germany’s federal government reached an agreement with all sixteen state leaders on 27 August to ban major gatherings like concerts and festivals through the end of the year. The group also agreed to implement a nation-wide fining for not adhering to mask requirements, which will be at least €50. 

A vocal minority against restrictions

Throughout the course of the coronavirus in Germany, there had been relatively small protests against the country’s coronavirus measures. However, on two separate occasions in August, thousands of protestors marched on Berlin to register their displeasure with the government’s restrictions.

On 1 August, roughly 20,000 people marched, and then in a second protest on 29 August, the numbers grew to 38,000. Among those protesting were neo-Nazi and other far-right extremists, as well as anti-vaxxers and families. The group largely ignored social distancing guidelines and refused to wear masks.

However, there is reason to believe that those attending the demonstrations represent a minority, albeit a vocal one. A survey released by the network ZDF on 28 August showed that 77% of Germans polled wanted stricter monitoring of compliance to the coronavirus restrictions.

61% were also in favour of establishing uniform guidelines throughout the whole country, instead of the state regulations that have been employed thus far.

→ Read more on the measures taken before summer break here:

German government reaches agreement with Lander to 'seal off' areas in cases of localised outbreaks

The EURACTIV Network provides you with the latest news on how the country is dealing with the coronavirus health crisis.

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