Germans Can Be Fined $540 for Standing Too Close

BERLIN (AFP) — Germans risk being fined up to $540 for standing too close to each other as of Friday, as officials crack down on people flouting rules brought in to control coronavirus.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has ordered people not leave their homes unless they have an exceptional reason such as grocery shopping, exercise or medical appointment.

A nurse assembles plastic-wrapped chairs outside an emergency room at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)

Gatherings of more than two people are banned and a distance of at least 5 feet must be kept from others at all times.

Local governments have the power to set fines for transgressors, with city officials in Berlin saying their fines would be as high as $540 euros. 

Similar announcements have come from across Germany’s 16 states.

Hesse, home to finance hub Frankfurt, and North Rhine-Westphalia both promised penalties of up to $215 euros for people who gather in groups of more than two.

Bavaria, Germany’s largest state, has been the worst affected by the coronavirus so far, with more than 18,000 cases.

There, people who stand less than 5 feet apart risk being fined $161. 

Queues of people standing far apart have become a common sight outside German supermarkets and pharmacies, with many sticking down tape to mark where people should stand on the pavement.

German police have reported numerous violations of the rules.

Germany has recorded more than 79,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institute for disease control, of whom 1,017 have died.

© Agence France-Presse

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