German govt seeks ban on big events until at least end-October over virus: draft

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is seeking to ban big events until at least the end of October over fears of renewed transmission of the coronavirus, according to an official draft seen by AFP on Wednesday.

Berlin also plans for schools to return to normal operations after the summer holidays, although recommendations for social distancing and mask wearing in shops and on public transport will stay, according to the document to be discussed by Merkel and premiers of Germany’s 16 states later Wednesday.

If agreed on by the state premiers, the ban on large events could affect shows such as the Frankfurt book fair.

Organisers of the book fair, which draws around 300,000 visitors, had until now said they planned to go ahead.

With new infection rates sharply down from highs in March and a death toll that was significantly lower than European neighbours’, Germany became the first major EU country to begin easing virus restrictions about six weeks ago.

The government noted that rules to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) as well as requirements to cover up nose and mouth in closed public spaces have helped in the fight against new transmissions.

It is now counting on contact tracing—both through human trackers as well as through a new app—to ensure that any new infections are isolated.

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