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German eatery's bid to host winter guests hit by paritial lockdown

A hotel and restaurant owner in Rheinberg in western Germany has set up plastic igloos outside his eatery to welcome guests during the winter months.

But new coronavirus restrictions that come into force next Monday in the country will threaten businesses like his and force them to only provide take-away meals throughout November.

"People prefer to sit outside rather than inside," said Michael Boehm, owner of Hotel am Fischmarkt.

"We do everything possible [...] to ensure that our guests come home healthy and come back to us again healthy."

Germany's disease control agency on Thursday said a record 16,774 new confirmed cases were registered across the country in the past day, taking the national total in the pandemic to 481,013.

On Wednesday, German officials agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres and other leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

Restaurants will still be allowed to serve take-out food, while shops and schools are to remain open, unlike during Germany's shutdown during the first phase of the pandemic.