Munich orders masks on as virus resurges

The German city of Munich will require masks to be worn at the busiest public spaces in tightened restrictions announced Monday by authorities to fight a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

Masks will be made compulsory from Thursday at popular city centre locations like the Marienplatz or Sendliger Tor.

Contact between people will also once again be restricted to gatherings of a maximum of two families or up to five people in total, said mayor Dieter Reiter.

The rule restricting contact will apply in private and public spaces as well as in restaurants, he said.

Munich is taking the drastic step of snapping back restrictions after new infections climbed above the threshold of 50 for every 100,000 people over the last week to 55.9 per 100,000.

Across Germany, infection rates have also been rising, reaching levels not seen since April, although they are still a fraction of the surge in numbers recorded in other European countries such as France and Spain.

But German leaders have repeatedly urged caution.

“If we look at some of our most important European partners, we see that there is once again almost uncontrolled spread of infections and we have no reason to think that it won’t happen here too,” warned government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

With winter approaching, Health Minister Jens Spahn announced plans for so-called “fever drop-in clinics” to be set up across the country where patients with symptoms can get “tested to find out what kind of illness they have and where one will be particularly protected so that they don’t infect others”.

The minister is also eyeing rapid tests, for instance at care homes where “visitors can get tested on site and get results immediately”.

Germany has drastically ramped up testing capacity, relying on detecting infections quickly to isolate patients and hence break the chain of contagion.

Germany on Monday recorded 922 new coronavirus cases, bringing the overall total so far to 272,337 cases.

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