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A town in east Germany is piloting daily COVID-19 tests so hotels and restaurants can reopen

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By Katy Dartford with AFP
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A town in east Germany is piloting daily COVID-19 tests so hotels and restaurants can reopen
Copyright  THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP or licensors
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In eastern Germany, the small town of Augustusburg has reopened to tourists, provided they take a coronavirus test before entering and the result is negative.

Anyone who wants to visit Augustusburg must register to receive a QR code. Once there, they must take an antigen test. If the test is negative, they can use their QR code to enter the restaurants, hotels, shops and museums.

The project is limited to 360 visitors a day, without restrictions for Augustusburgers, according to Mayor Dirk Neubauer.

"Now is the only time we can still do it," said Saxon minister of economic affairs, Martin Dulig during a visit to Augustusburg. "The numbers continue to rise, which means that it is already a brave decision that we have made to enable these pilots," reports Der Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk.

The test is not a substitute for keeping your distance and wearing a mask however, strict hygiene rules still apply. A maximum of five people from two households can sit at a table, and staff are tested every day.

"This project is very good, it's great to finally have the possibility - after being tested beforehand of course - to go restaurants, to go into some stores," says German tourist, Gens Bauer.

Another German tourist, Olaf Mierwald, has mixed feelings about the project. "It's at the same time a return to normality on the one hand, but on the other hand it's still unusual, you're something special because you can enter with your QR-code".

"And tomorrow you have to be tested again because the test is only valid for one day," he says.

Stores and restaurants are happy to accept the rules, especially as they know the project could be over again very quickly.

If the number of coronavirus patients in Saxony's clinics rises to over 1,300, Augustusburg will go back into lockdown, which could already be the case after the Easter weekend.

"We're going to have to live with the virus. It won't go away this year either. But we finally need a perspective, a hope strategy for Saxony. And that's why I am absolutely confident that this is the right way to go," warns Dulig.

The town's mayor agrees: "It's really about finding an alternative," he says. "If it happens again in autumn that we are looking for an alternative to the lockdown, then we will hopefully be happy that we have made it here," says Neubauer.