Berlin imposes compulsory mask measures against coronavirus

A man wearing a face mask is pictured at Schloss Strasse shopping street, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Berlin, Germany, October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Berlin's municipal government on Tuesday made it compulsory to wear masks at markets, in queues and on 10 busy shopping streets, but stopped short of imposing another lockdown to curb a new wave of coronavirus infections in the German capital.

Berlin's incidence of the virus has risen to 87.9 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven day rolling period, almost double the national average of 45.4, the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

Mayor Michael Mueller urged the capital's residents to comply with the new, tighter rules, which also included limits on parties, to avoid shutting down public life again.

"We are in a worrying situation, and beyond a lockdown, politicians no longer have many options to adopt measures that prevent exactly that from happening," he said.

The news from Berlin came as residents in the Bavarian district of Berchtesgadener Land went back into lockdown on Tuesday, the first area in Germany to do so since April.

While Germany's infection rates are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and hit a daily record of 7,830 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to curb social contacts and keep travel to a minimum on Saturday.

Federal and state governments have been unable to agree on tougher measures to contain a second wave. Courts in several regions have, meanwhile, overturned bans on hotel stays for visitors from infection hotspots.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Paul Carrel; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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