German state of Bavaria tightens coronavirus restrictions

MUNICH (Reuters) - The southern German state of Bavaria ordered new measures on Tuesday to fight a resurging coronavirus pandemic, including tighter limits on numbers of people meeting, more mask-wearing and earlier closing for restaurants.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Bavaria, which along with the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has seen the highest number of coronavirus cases in Germany, said the new rules would apply in areas that record more than 50 new infections per 100,000 residents in a week.

Germany has kept the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths lower than many European neighbours, but the number of infections has jumped of late, rising by 1,821 on Tuesday, including 412 in Bavaria, the Robert Koch Institute said.

The new measures, the toughest since Germany started to ease a first round of social restrictions in May, came as countries like France, Spain and Britain have taken yet more drastic steps to curb a second wave of infections.

The Bavarian government said the new rules, which take effect on Wednesday in areas with high numbers of infections, include limiting meetings to people from only two households, or groups of up to five people.

Parties or weddings are still allowed, but the number of guests has been cut to a quarter of that permitted under previous rules - 25 people indoors, or 50 people outdoors.

Masks must be worn in certain busy public areas, while alcohol consumption will also be banned in those places and a curfew imposed for restaurants between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Visits to patients in hospitals and residents in care homes will also be reduced to one person a day.

Bavaria also pledged to work on rolling out speedier tests for coronavirus, particularly for those working in hospitals or care homes, and said it would spend 50 million euros ($59 million) on ventilation for schools and nurseries.

($1 = 0.8514 euros)

Reporting by Emma Thomasson Editing by Douglas Busvine/Mark Heinrich