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Police to actively enforce coronavirus rules Thursday in Rheinland-Pfalz, home to US bases

People walk down Marktstrasse in downtown Kaiserslautern, Germany in late August 2020. German police and municipal security officers in Rheinland-Pfalz will be checking for compliance with physical distancing and mask rules on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARCUS KLOECKNER AND JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 26, 2021

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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — German law enforcement officials in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, home to several U.S. military bases, will be looking for violations of coronavirus restrictions and could issue fines for noncompliance Thursday.

“Corona Control Day” will include checks to ensure physical distancing and that people are following mask rules, state officials said in a statement Monday.

Anyone using public transportation or entering shops, offices and many other indoor facilities must wear either a medical mask or an FFP2-equivalent, which filter out about 95% of particulates. The rule went into effect Monday following a meeting last week between state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

U.S. security forces from bases in the Kaiserslautern area, which include Ramstein Air Base and U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, won’t be involved in the operation, local military officials said.

The focus of the effort “is to raise awareness of the importance of the measures,” Diana Eilenz, a Kaiserslautern police spokeswoman, said Tuesday. But citations haven't been ruled out, she said.

“If there is a violation, the circumstances will be considered” and it will be up to regulatory and law enforcement officials to decide on the penalty, Eilenz said.

The state fine for not wearing a mask where one is required is 50 euros. State officials have not said whether they have directed police to issue fines for not wearing cloth or other nonmedical masks.

“Especially in view of the consistently high numbers of new infections and deaths, every citizen must act with particular responsibility and solidarity,” Rheinland-Pfalz Interior Minister Roger Lewentz said in a statement.

The state has a seven-day average incidence of 100 new cases per 100,000 people, the Robert Koch Institute reported Tuesday. That compares to 108 nationwide, which is a drop from about 123 one week ago. Merkel has said the country needs to get to a seven-day rate of 50 cases per 100,000 people before restrictions can be eased.

Other ongoing restrictions include a ban on in-person dining and the closure of school classrooms throughout the country. But in Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, state leaders said they were considering gradually reopening day care and elementary schools starting Monday, after three straight weeks of declining new infection rates.

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com

svan.jennifer@stripes.com
Twitter: @stripesktown