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Curfew extended to Kaiserslautern district, including Ramstein, as coronavirus cases surge

A man passes a shoe store in the pedestrian zone in Kaiserslautern that offers immediate appointments for shoppers. The Kaiserslautern district tightened coronavirus restrictions on April 19, 2021, as new infections surged.

KARIN ZEITVOGEL/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARCUS KLOECKNER AND KARIN ZEITVOGEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 19, 2021

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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A curfew went into effect Monday in the district that includes Ramstein Air Base and several Army installations after new coronavirus infections surged above the weekly average mark of 100 per 100,000 residents for three days.

The 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is the first in the Kaiserslautern district since the pandemic began, although the city of Kaiserslautern has been under curfew since Friday, district commissioner Ralf Lessmeister said in a statement.

“I had hoped for a falling number of infections, but the incidence shows that we have to have stricter rules,” he said as the new infection rate for the district hit a weekly average of 145 per 100,000 residents on Sunday. Two days earlier, there were around 130 new infections per 100,000 residents in the district, he said in a video interview with a local media outlet.

The incidence rate of new infections in the city of Kaiserslautern was at 138 per 100,000 residents as of Sunday.

German federal guidelines require the curfew and other restrictions to be imposed in areas where new cases surpass the weekly average of 100 per 100,000 residents for three days.

The curfew and other restrictions will remain in place for at least seven days, officials said.

Starting at midnight Monday, district residents, including tens of thousands of Americans, can only go outdoors at night for a job-related reason, including traveling to and from work; a medical emergency, to visit a sick relative or their partner, or to walk their dog, said the statement released by the district.

It was not immediately clear if visiting a partner required an overnight stay at their home.

Daytime outdoor activities are also limited. Residents are only allowed to be outside alone or with members of their own household and one person from another household, not counting children aged 6 and under.

Restaurants, which had cautiously started reopening their outdoor areas last month, stopped offering al fresco dining on Sunday, but takeout and delivery meals remain available, the new rules said.

Many retail outlets went back to appointment shopping Monday, but grocery stores, pharmacies and drug stores, and shops selling books, hardware, flowers and gardening tools can continue to operate as usual.

Services that involve physical contact between customers and providers can continue only if they serve a medical or hygienic purpose such as physiotherapy, foot care or hair salons and barbershops.

Cosmetic services and tattoos are out, though, while the tightened restrictions are in place.

Face coverings must be worn in all businesses that are allowed to open.

Sports can only be practiced individually, in pairs or with members of a person’s household, and social distancing measures must be respected.

Visits to the outdoor areas of zoos, animal parks, botanical gardens and similar facilities are possible with an advance booking, but the number of people allowed at a given time is limited.

Museums, exhibitions, galleries, memorials and other cultural institutions “have to close completely,” and theater rehearsals and performances are banned, along with group music and art lessons, the statement said.

“Continually rising infections in the Kaiserslautern district forced us to take this action,” Lessmeister said, urging residents to show “understanding and discipline” and follow the tough new rules.

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com

zeitvogel.karin@stripes.com
Twitter: @StripesZeit

A woman stands outside a cosmetics store in Kaiserslautern on April 19, 2021.
KARIN ZEITVOGEL/STARS AND STRIPES