Residents of Germany’s northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will be allowed to go on day trips to the coast and the Baltic Sea islands, after a court overturned the state-imposed ban late on Thursday.
Tourists from other federal states within Germany, however, are still prohibited from visiting the beaches and islands until at least April 19.
The ruling comes as spring weather has begun in Germany and just a day before the Easter holiday weekend, which could entice many to venture outside.
Even though COVID-19 presents an exceptional situation, the court found that the state ban represented a disproportionate encroachment on personal freedom, violating a fundamental right.
Moreover, it found that the restriction was not necessary given the fact that a ban on foreign and domestic tourists would open up more public spaces to residents.
State Premier Manuela Schwesig said the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania government respected the court’s decision and would not challenge it.
But she led a chorus of local and regional officials, from different parties, imploring residents to stay home and refrain from traveling throughout the state.
Authorities have also pleaded with the public to refrain from visiting their families over the Easter holiday, in an attempt to keep coronavirus infections low.
Currently, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has tallied some 586 COVID-19 infections and 11 deaths. It is the second lowest number of infections and deaths among Germany’s states after Bremen.
But Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s lakes and beaches are within two hour’s driving distance from Hamburg, which has registered over 3,000 cases.
jcg/dr (dpa, AFP)