Party city Berlin slaps corona curfew on bars, restaurants

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s capital decided on Tuesday to impose a late-night curfew on restaurants and bars to contain surging numbers of new coronavirus cases in Berlin.

FILE PHOTO: A view of a closed bar in the district of Kreuzberg during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berlin, Germany March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

City mayor Michael Mueller, a Social Democrat, said experts had pointed to two problem areas that had to be addressed - large groups of people who were not sticking to social distancing rules and gatherings in closed rooms.

“The advice showed we have to act quickly,” Mueller told reporters, adding action was needed to avoid a full lockdown in the German capital, famous for its club scene which has already come to a standstill due to corona restrictions.

From this weekend until the end of October, restaurants and bars will have to close at 11pm (2100 GMT) until 6 am (0400 GMT) and petrol stations will be banned from selling alcohol during those hours.

In addition, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed at private parties indoors, down from 25.

The city of 3.8 million inhabitants is the latest major EU capital to take tougher measures to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases and the banking hub of Frankfurt also announced tighter rules on Tuesday.

Madrid, Europe’s COVID hotspot, has imposed a second lockdown, and Paris has decided to shut bars and gyms for two weeks.

Four out of 12 Berlin districts have become high-risk zones, meaning they exceeded 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for seven days in a row, according to health senate figures from Monday. For the city as a whole the figure was at 41.5.

Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate have designated these districts risk areas and insist people returning from there quarantine for 14 days or show a negative corona test.

Members of the German parliament, the Bundestag, are required to wear mouth and nose coverings from Tuesday.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Alexandra Hudson