Berlin clubs to reopen to the vaccinated, recovered: govt

Berlin (AFP) –


Berlin's legendary dance clubs, a pillar of the German capital's nightlife and economy, can reopen to the vaccinated and those who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection, the city government said Tuesday.

As one of the last sectors to return to full operation, clubs should be able to benefit from the new policy from this weekend, the Berlin government said in a statement, with a mask requirement also falling away.

Some venues began welcoming guests in outdoor space this summer while requiring proof of vaccination, recovery or a current negative Covid-19 test as well as mask wearing.

By allowing clubs to open doors to their indoor spaces as well as open-air areas, the Berlin government is complying with a judge's order, said the city's top health official, Dilek Kalayci.

The administrative court had ruled on August 20 that the city's previous ban on public dance events in response to the pandemic could not stand for the vaccinated and recovered.

The reopening, which comes as infection rates rise again in a fourth wave of the outbreak, will also apply to the city's popular saunas, hammams and thermal baths.

However the interior dining rooms of restaurants and cafeterias will now require managers to "review proof of testing, vaccination or recovery and bar those without such proof from entering".

- Infections rising -

The number of infections in Germany has climbed steadily since early July to reach 74.8 per 100,000 people over the last seven days, with just over 60 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

Berlin's infection rate is slightly lower at 72.2 per 100,000 with 60 percent of the population vaccinated.

The German government has ruled out a blanket vaccination requirement but increasingly turned to a strategy of introducing restrictions for those who refuse to get a Covid-19 jab.

Berlin's world-famous dance clubs pumped 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) into the local economy in 2018 alone, according to a study by the Club Commission, which represents the sector's interests. They did this by attracting an estimated three million tourists from across Europe and around the world.

In response to the threat to the sector posed by the pandemic as well as gentrification, the German parliament in May reclassified clubs and live event venues as cultural institutions, meaning they have the same legal protections as museums and concert houses.