German district locked down as second wave gathers pace


Some 106,000 residents of a southern German district bordering Austria have been ordered to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, in some of the toughest measures seen nationwide since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The regional lockdown in Berchtesgadener Land came into effect at 2 pm (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, after infection rates rocketed in the picturesque mountain district.

The small Austrian town of Kuchl, on the other side of the border from Berchtesgadener Land, was sealed off last week due to the accelerating spread of the virus there.

On Monday evening, the number of new cases announced in Berchtesgadener Land stood at 272.8 per 100,000 residents over seven days – far above the set benchmarks of 35 and 50, after which regional authorities must tighten restrictions.

In the district, schools, nurseries, leisure centres and restaurants have all been forced to close.

Public gatherings have been banned, with the exception of religious services, and hotels are to close, unless offering accommodation for people travelling on business.

Valid reasons for leaving the home include going to work, shopping for essentials, and going out for sport or fresh air, although this can only be done with members of the same household.

The measures are initially to stay in place for two weeks.

The surge in cases makes Berchtesgadener Land Germany’s worst regional outbreak currently, although cases have been on the rise across the country, fueling concerns that a track-and-trace strategy used by health authorities will soon no longer be workable.

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