Tag: bans

German government defends curfews and domestic-travel bans

A bar owner closes up at a bar in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district on October 10, 2020. - Stolz, along with other bar owners in Berlin, has challenged local authorities over the re-introduction of a curfew for bars in the capital, which are, from October 10 onwards, forbidden to operate between 11 PM and 6 AM. (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)
A bar owner closes up at a bar in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. Bar owners in Berlin have challenged local authorities over the re-introduction of a curfew for bars in the capital between 11pm and 6am. Photo: John Macdougall AFP via Getty Images

Helge Braun, the chief of staff at the chancellory in Berlin, has defended the government’s decision to tighten restrictions again amid a surge in new coronavirus infections in Germany.

“We are now right at the beginning of a second wave,” Braun told public broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

He said that the government wants to keep the economy functioning and keep schools and kindergartens open, which is “why we have to be a little stricter where the chains of infection are primarily spreading — namely celebrations and unfortunately also through travel.”

He said that the ban on people from high-risk areas of Germany going to other states for vacations, and staying in hotels, is a “real emergency measure.”

Germany saw new cases surge to over 4,000 a day on several days last week, mirroring tallies not seen since April.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the country has had 326,309 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and 9,626 deaths. But the government has warned that if measures to contain the rise are not implemented now, cases could quickly spiral upwards.

The decision by the majority of Germany’s federal states to ban domestic travel from high-case areas, or force those from risk areas to provide a negative test and quarantine in hotels, has provoked an uproar in the hospitality industry.

Germany is on the cusp of a two-week autumn school holiday break, and hoteliers risk losing huge amounts of money from cancelled trips.

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association said it is expects lawsuits to be filed this week against the ban on accommodation for travellers from risk areas.

 READ MORE: Coronavirus: Curfew to curb soaring cases a ‘death blow’ for Berlin’s bars

“I assume that legal proceedings will be brought here in the next few days,” said the association’s managing director Ingrid Hartges in an interview with Bild newspaper. “Is the measure appropriate, necessary and also proportionate in the legal sense? If it is not, it is illegal,” Hartges added.

11 October 2020, Hamburg: Units of customs, police and fire brigade control on the Reeperbahn the compliance with the Corona requirements in the gastronomy. Photo: Axel Heimken/dpa (Photo by Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Units of customs, police and fire brigade patrol on the Reeperbahn to check compliance with the corona curfew in Hamburg. Photo: Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Berlin mayor Michael Müller plans to raise the topic of the accommodation bans at a meeting with Angela Merkel this Wednesday.

Last week, a number of Berlin bar owners also filed a complaint against the city’s new 11pm curfew for bar and restaurant owners, claiming it will kill their businesses. The curfew was implemented after Berlin was declared a risk area, with more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period.

“The curfew could even worsen the situation, since if all bars, restaurants and clubs close at the same time, it could lead to crowds of

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Israel bans mass protests as Covid lockdown tightens

a group of people holding a sign: Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israel has passed a law that bans mass protest during the country’s coronavirus lockdown in a move government opponents have claimed exploits the health crisis to suppress demonstrations calling for Benjamin Netanyahu to resign as prime minister.

The contentious legislation was approved at 4:30 am local time (1:30 am GMT) on Wednesday after an all-night session by the country’s parliament, the Knesset. It allows the government to restrict people from travelling more than 1km from their homes to demonstrate and bans outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people.

a group of people holding a sign: People gather in front of the Israeli parliament to protest against the decision to curb mass rallies.

© Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
People gather in front of the Israeli parliament to protest against the decision to curb mass rallies.

Critics say it, in effect, criminalises weekly rallies in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where thousands have voiced their anger over Netanyahu’s handling of the pandemic as well as charges of alleged corruption, which he denies.

Outside the Knesset, several hundred people had gathered on Tuesday to condemn the new laws.

“I think we can see they are not aimed to stop the pandemic or the coronavirus but it’s a political restriction in order to stop and kill the demonstrations against Netanyahu,” said Yaniv Segal, an actor who has been out of work for several months.

“This is an anti-democratic law. It’s only to stop resistance against a prime minister that is corrupted and accused of many crimes.”

Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party had previously demanded that the ban on mass protests remain in effect even after the lockdown was lifted but lawmakers rejected that proposal. The new law can only be used during a lockdown.

After the law was passed, Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition, tweeted: “What’s the next step? Banning the opposition leader from addressing parliament?”

Israel has recorded some of the highest per capita daily infection rates in the world, and a military body said on Tuesday the country’s coronavirus deaths per capita had surpassed the US.

While a spring lockdown managed to get infection rates to very low levels, officials say the country was reopened too fast and with few restrictions.

“We were not careful. We weren’t careful in how we emerged from the last lockdown, I think we are not doing enough to lower infection and morbidity,” Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy told public radio.

A three-week lockdown imposed this month has forced all non-essential businesses to close and largely shuttered the country.

Protest leaders have questioned the science behind the new rules, arguing that open-air rallies do not pose a significant infection risk, especially when compared with indoor religious gatherings, which have been singled out as hotspots.

Netanyahu’s critics accuse the prime minister, whose government is propped up by powerful Jewish ultra-Orthodox politicians, of not doing enough to limit religious gatherings. This month Netanyahu dropped a plan for localised lockdowns, which would largely impact religious communities, after pressure from ultra-Orthodox mayors.

“I’m not saying I have anything against religious people, I don’t,” said Liri

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