Germany city reopens despite virus surge


Germany may be battling a third wave of the pandemic but life feels almost normal in the city of Tuebingen, where anyone with a negative Covid test can enjoy a day of shopping, culture or outdoor dining.

As debate rages nationwide about whether tougher measures are needed to slow surging infections, the historic university city near Stuttgart has chosen a different tack by offering free coronavirus testing centres that hand out "day passes" to those whose results come back negative.

The passes then allow access to what is currently one of Germany's most vibrant city centres.

"Customers' eyes light up when they come in, it's finally a bit of normality again," said Sandra Pauli, who was allowed to reopen her home decor shop some two weeks ago. "Everyone is very happy."

The usual rules on mask wearing and physical distancing still apply, said Pauli, who believes the rapid testing scheme "is the only way to live with the coronavirus" while keeping high street stores afloat and welcoming people back into theatres and museums.

The rest of Germany is closely watching the Tuebingen model, and a string of cities and towns are planning similar experiments. 

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