Residents of Germany are set to experience further social distancing as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office announced on Sun (22 Mar) that gatherings of more than two people will be prohibited.
Exceptions, however, apply to individuals living in the same household, or if the gathering is related to work.
Police may take action against those who are found flouting the ban.
“The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus,” said Ms Merkel, who has gone into self-quarantine after receiving a vaccination against pneumococcus from a doctor who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
A spokesperson for Ms Merkel said that she will undergo regular tests for COVID-19 in the next few days and will be working from home.
The Chancellor also urged residents of Germany to minimise contact with others outside their household and to ensure a distance of at least 1.5 metres from another person when in public.
Germany has recorded a total of 18,610 cases and 55 deaths related to COVID-19 as at Sun.
In Singapore, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chairman of the task force on COVID-19, told a press conference last Fri that the Government’s new requirement of suspending all events and gatherings with 250 or more attendees at a single time is a part of “a range of very stringent, safe distancing measures” put in place to limit further local transmission of the virus.
The new measure is an extension of an earlier one, which called for ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events to be limited to fewer than 250 participants.
Mr Wong said that while the new measure “will lead to some inconvenience”, such a stringent measure could “give us better control over the situation and enable us to suppress and slow down the spread of the virus”.
“They should lead to a change in outcomes from where we are today. We cannot continue with business-as-usual activities,” he stressed.
The limitation on participant size applies does not only to public entertainment venues, but also to private gatherings such as weddings and parties, according to the multi-ministry taskforce.
The Government, said Mr Wong, will not hesitate to resort to “escalating penalties” such as issuing warnings, fines and revocation of licences against errant entities.
“If there is a need, we can also through the Infectious Diseases Act to prosecute egregious cases,” he said.
Mr Wong however acknowledged that such measures may be more difficult to “impose or enforce for private gatherings”.
“If somebody has a party in their home, I wouldn’t even know. And that’s why we say not everything can be done through government measures.
“Singaporeans have to take responsibility for your private get-togethers. Do it in smaller groups. Don’t do them so frequently,” he said.