According to a draft resolution circulated in German media, the Federal Government is planning to discuss with state governments a list of new policy solutions to contain the pandemic. A time based alcohol sales ban which would reduce alcohol availability in restaurants and bars to help minimize the rate of coronavirus infections is one of the proposed solutions.
The draft resolution includes the following measures:
- Time-limited bans on the sale of alcohol in restaurants and bars.
- Limiting private parties to 25 people.
- Limiting parties held in public spaces to 50 people.
- Restricting the number of people at festivals if a state reports more than 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of seven days.
The critical number of new infections for this regulation to come into force will be negotiated at a conference held by the federal government with the 16 state leaders in Germany.
The draft resolution also calls for a more regional approach than a blanket approach in dealing with infections. However, it highlights existing regulation should not be weakened. Further the resolution proposes improving contact tracing. People would be obligated to provide accurate contact information and regulatory authorities would be allowed to charge a €50 fine when false information is provided.
It is in the hands of the 16 state leaders of Germany to sign and adopt these new policy solutions proposed by the federal government. Some states show opposition to certain regulations in the proposed resolution. The Chancellor has warned that cases could rise to 19,200 by Christmas if urgent action is not taken to stop the spread now.
Regulating alcohol availability helps fight COVID-19
Alcohol availability limits, help to reduce the spread of the virus. This is because alcohol use has been found to affect people’s behaviors in ways that threaten protective health guidelines such as mask use and physical distancing. People gathering in large groups, ignoring health guidelines, to consume alcohol leads to increased spread of the virus. One recent study found that among young adults who used alcohol, adherence to public policies to contain the pandemic such as stay-at-home orders, decreased over time and was related to alcohol use events.
Apart from dissipating crowded gatherings there are other important reasons for limiting alcohol availability during the pandemic. As the World Health Organization has advised, these include:
- Alcohol increases the risk of infection and risk of more severe COVID-19 disease progression,
- Alcohol weakens the immune system, and
- Alcohol-related injury, disease and violence increase the burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already near or over capacity.