Once-busy public spaces fell quiet on Saturday as a number of states in Germany imposed quarantine measures that call on people to stay home. Bavaria, Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Hesse have all gone into partial lockdown.
In Bavaria, Germany’s largest state by area, State Premier Markus Söder said people should remain inside unless traveling to work, the doctor or the supermarket. Walks and exercise outdoors are generally allowed, but only individually or in small family groups.
Bavarian police reported only isolated instances of violations on Saturday, such as five youths celebrating a birthday party at a construction site or a group of three people drinking around a bonfire. Violators were given warnings in each case.
The western state of Saarland reported roughly 20 violations overnight, mostly by young people, according to police.
A day of observation
Authorities have indicated that observing the public response to social distancing measures on Saturday will be key in determining how to proceed with further restrictions in Germany. “We will look at the behavior of the population this weekend,” Helge Braun, the head of Angela Merkel’s Chancellery, told Spiegel Online.
Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he understands people “have a need for fresh air” in the current circumstances, but admonished those continuing to socialize in groups, including at so-called corona parties, which he referred to as “bad jokes.”
“Maybe we can nudge the others a little bit to suck it up so that we can protect ourselves from further restrictions on freedoms,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung.
Merkel is due to meet with state premiers on Sunday to decide whether a lockdown should be instituted at a national level.
Authorities in Germany are scrambling to curb the coronavirus pandemic. The country has reported more than 20,000 infections of the virus on Saturday, with 70 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. In addition to lockdown efforts, the German government has imposed a number of other restrictions on movement, including closing borders and barring entry to many foreigners.
dr/aw (dpa, AP, AFP)