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Germany bars fans from soccer matches till at least end of October

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany agreed on Monday to extend a ban for spectators in stadiums at Bundesliga soccer matches until at least the end of October due to the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

The Bundesliga season restarted in mid-May after a suspension of more than two months, becoming the first European league to resume under strict rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The German Football League (DFL) had hoped authorities would accept an updated proposal to allow fans in stadiums again under certain conditions.

But the health ministers of Germany’s federal and 16 state governments rejected the proposal, pointing to rising numbers of coronavirus infections, the health ministry of the state of Berlin said.

“In particular, local health authorities are currently focused on contact tracing, the school start and the return of holidays travellers,” it said.

As other major events in Germany remained banned until the end of October, the ministers agreed that no exception could be made for soccer matches, adding that their decision would not be revisited before autumn.

“We need to stay vigilant. In the current situation, spectators in the stadiums would be the wrong signal,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a tweet.

Pointing to an uptick in coronavirus cases over the past few days, Spahn warned against taking any avoidable risks that could further increase the infection rate.

Government officials have repeatedly urged Germans to stick with such precautionary measures as social distancing and the wearing of face masks, but the rising number of infections suggest some have become less careful during the summer months.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Gareth Jones and Tom Brown

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