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Berlin court suspends bar curfew in backlash against anti-virus measures

BERLIN, Oct 16 (Reuters) - A Berlin court on Friday suspended a curfew on bars and restaurants, joining other courts in overturning government-imposed measures meant to contain the further spread of the coronavirus.

Berlin’s local government had a week ago imposed a night-time curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. to tackle surging numbers of new infections.

“The curfew has been suspended for the time being as the court considers it disproportionate in view of other measures taken to fight the pandemic,” a spokesman for the administrative court in Berlin said.

The court said there was no evidence bars and restaurants that stick with existing rules on mask-wearing and social distancing contributed to any increase in infection rates.

The ruling was in response to legal action brought by 11 restaurant owners who contested the curfew, but not a ban on the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m.

Several other German cities, including financial hub Frankfurt, have also imposed a curfew on bars and restaurants, and Germany’s states agreed with Chancellor Angela Merkel this week that such measures should be automatic as soon as infection rates in any area exceed 50 per 100,000 residents over a week.

Germany, like other countries across Europe, is dealing with a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported a daily increase by more than 7,300 new cases on Friday.

Most of Germany’s states recently agreed that residents of areas with high infection rates should not be allowed to stay in hotels in other parts of the country to contain the spread of the virus during autumn school holidays.

But opposition has grown in recent days, and courts in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony, Lower Saxony and Saarland have overturned that lodging ban. In Bavaria, it will expire on Friday, a regional government spokesman said. (Reporting by Holger Hansen and Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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