By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Hertha fan concept wins local endorsement, Germany may be on cusp of loosening restrictions

Tomorrow's DFB-Pokal Final in Berlin's Olympiastadion will take place without spectators. The Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf health department has nevertheless approved and forwarded a Hertha-BSC hygiene concept to the Berliner Senate. 

It remains unlikely that spectators will be permitted back into the Berlin venue before the season is out, but signs of a return to the 20-percent-capacity-model are imminent.

Of great significance, it appears as if politicians in Germany may be prepared to expand the RKI stabilizer very soon.
An ambitious proposition to allow 15,000 live fans back into Hertha's Olympiastadion has received approval from local health authorities and is now on its way to the city's senate for approval. The plan is essentially a re-tread of one submitted last September during a six-week trial period during which football stadiums across the Bundesrepublik were allowed to operate at 20-percent-capacity.

Hertha were able to allow some supporters through the turnstiles during this period, but a city-wide cap on public gatherings instituted by the city senate at the time limited all events to a crowd-size of 5,000. In the intervening months, the club tweaked its proposal and re-filed for the maximum amount.

Local health authorities in the capital's Charlottenburg-Wilmserdorf district have given the plan their stamp of approval. Administrative spokesperson Detlev Wagner explained the reasoning to Germany's Sport Bild.

"Hertha's hygiene concept has been revised, freshly updated, submitted to us and approved by us," Wagner told the newspaper, "The concept is very stable and been polished with great attention to detail. The huge Olympiastadion will serve as an advantage to Hertha after all, as it allows the crowd to be directed and definitively avoid encounters. Each block [of the stadium] can be accessed separately from inside and outside."

In terms of outdoor public events in Germany, the previous rules in place last autumn, were regulated by a metric devised by Germany's federal public health research agency, the Robert Koch Institute. The so-called "RKI Stabilizer" prohibited outdoor public events from taking place if a local district averaged more than 35 new COVID infections per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period.

Politically speaking, there are signs that the country's governing regime may be prepared to loosen these restrictions somewhat. With the pace of vaccinations picking up, we might see the number raised from 35 new infections to 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. Berlin currently comes in just under this amount at 93.5.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), in a recent interview on Deutschlandfunk Radio, gave what some are interpreting to be an endorsement of this new number. One should note that a federal confirmation remains pending.

"It is absolutely my recommendation that we open up a little more generously in the realm of the outdoors," Spahn said in the interview, "Outdoor dining, outdoor lectures, and outdoor football matches with reduced attendance. The level of incidence below 100 is tested and very important."

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