Coronavirus: Germany limits public events to 50 people, 25 for private parties

A renewed shutdown as imposed in the spring should be avoided, Merkel says

The number of people allowed to attend an event in a public or rented indoor space in Germany must not exceed 50, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers decided during a conference on Tuesday as coronavirus cases rose across the country, dpa reported.

Following the discussions by video, Merkel noted a clear rise in the number of infections, particularly in dense conurbations, but she also said that a renewed shutdown as imposed in the spring should be avoided. Germany had come through the summer well, but would be facing "difficult times" through the autumn and winter, the chancellor said.

The new restrictions will apply when new infections rise to more than 35 per 100,000 residents in a given area and explicitly excludes private property. A recommendation is being issued with respect to private homes calling for a limit of 25 people per gathering.

Further measures will be imposed in any area where new infections rise above 50 per 100,000 residents, with the limit on public or rented space lowered to 25 people and the recommendation for the limit in private homes reduced to 10.

There will be exceptions for events registered in advance that make use of hygiene plans approved by public health bodies.

Health Minister Jens Spahn defended the moves. "In view of the increasing number of infections, this is not the time to relax the rules even further, he told the news programme heute journal on ZDF public television. Socializing, going out for meals, travelling and leisure activities currently posed some of the greatest risks of infection, Spahn pointed out. "The virus is the spoilsport here, not me or us in politics."

The measures were hammered out during talks throughout the day aimed at reaching a common position between the governments of the 16 states that are responsible for health policy and the federal government in Berlin. Schools and child day care centres should not be closed completely in the future, Merkel said, while calling for a test strategy for teachers and pupils, along with "certain behaviour when a case of infection occurs." Ahead of the discussions, Merkel was reported to be seeking agreement on stricter measures, such as restrictions on alcohol sales.

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