Germany’s capital city is issuing a new set of restrictions in a bid to contain a resurgence in coronavirus cases.
Starting next Monday, unvaccinated citizens in Berlin will have to contend with a new set of restrictions. Due to a growing number of coronavirus cases in the city, they will be denied access to indoor dining areas, bars, gyms, and hairdressers.
Although the decision is bound to be unpopular among the public, officials explain that they are the best preventive measure at their disposal in order to avoid another full-blown epidemic. Fully-vaccinated individuals, and those who can show proof of recovery from COVID-19, will be able to enter leisure facilities and a list of other selected venues—a system known as “2G” in Germany.
The decision to reinstate access restrictions for the unvaccinated is a response to “the rising number of coronavirus cases and the increasing pressure on intensive care units”, the Berlin senate said in a press release on Wednesday evening. Under Germany’s political organization system, Berlin is a ‘city-state’ — a state that consists of only one city.
These new restrictions were imposed by the local government, not the Federal government, and as such will only affect Berlin.
Under the new restrictions, theaters, museums, and outdoor events with more than 2,000 visitors will be off-limits to unvaccinated adults. Minors and those who have medical exemptions from receiving a vaccine will only need to show a negative test result.
Companies operating in Berlin have also been encouraged to transition as many employees as possible to work-from-home schemes, and limit office attendance to 50% of staff.
These measures are among the most — if not the most — restrictive yet in the whole of Germany. However, other areas and states might follow suit sooner rather than later; the country has been experiencing a rapid increase in new daily coronavirus infections over the last week. The states of Saxony, Bavaria, and Baden-Wuerttemberg are also in the process of increasing restrictions to deal with their own coronavirus flare-ups.
Germany’s adult vaccination rate sits at around 67%. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, who still retains her office until the new government is set up, warned that this percentage is “not high enough to prevent a rapid spreading of the virus”.
So far, she seems to have been right. Some hospitals in Germany have started postponing non-urgent surgeries to make resources and personnel available to deal with the increase in coronavirus cases.