Much of the non-food retail shops will remain closed until at least 7 March/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany extends lockdown until March: Details of resolution

The federal and state governments have agreed to extend the existing shutdown measures in Germany. On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of the 16 federal states reached decisions on the further course of the pandemic’s management.

Highlights of the resolution of the Corona Summit at a glance:

Lockdown extended until 7 March
Corona infection numbers are falling, but at 68 cases per 100,000 people in a week, they are still too far from the target of 50. In addition, the more contagious virus mutants are causing concern. An important reason for the extension of the lockdown, which was initially limited until mid-February, is also the particularly rapidly spreading virus mutations. The federal and state governments have therefore extended the lockdown restrictions until 7 March.
Existing measures such as the closure of much of the non-food retail shops, restaurants, pubs, museums and theatres are also to remain in force.

Hairdressers and retail trade
“Subject to conditions of hygiene, access control with reservations and using medical masks,” hair salons will be allowed to reopen from March.
Hairdressers can reopen from 1 March, subject to the following conditions:

– Hygiene rules will be adhered to
– Customers must make reservations
– Workers and customers must wear medical masks

A placard on the shop window of an African hairdressing salon in Berlin. Beauty salons, hairdressers and barber shops can open as from 1 March/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

 

Kindergartens and schools
The individual federal states can decide independently on the opening of schools and day-care centres; so, there is no uniform nationwide regulation.
The resolution states that “schools and day-care centres” are the first areas to be gradually reopened. “Within the framework of their cultural sovereignty, the Länder shall decide on the gradual return to face-to-face teaching and the expansion of the provision of day care for children.”

More rapid coronavirus tests are to bring more security in classrooms and day-care centres. Masks are to be used, classrooms are to be well ventilated and hygiene rules are to be strictly adhered to. In addition, the health ministers of the states were instructed to examine whether teachers and educators can be vaccinated earlier than previously planned.

Several federal states have already announced concrete plans to gradually reopen day-care centres and schools from next week. Saxony, for example, was the first state to announce on Tuesday that it would open primary schools and day-care centres on a limited basis from next Monday.

Stricter rules for home office and workplace
In view of the pandemic, “the further reduction of epidemiologically relevant contacts at the workplace is necessary,” the resolution states. Therefore, “employers must allow employees to work from home if the activities allow it”. Companies are urged to:

– Apply Corona protection rules “consistently”
– Allow “generous home office solutions with greatly reduced physical staff presence” at the workplace
– Or to keep their offices completely closed
– If several people nevertheless need to be in the same room, medical masks must be worn

Physical contact restrictions to remain in place
The contact restrictions remain in place for the time being:
– Only meetings “within the circle of members of one’s own household and with one other person not living in the household” allowed
– Meeting as few persons as possible and always the same ones recommended
– “Unnecessary” private trips and visits – also from relatives should be avoided

Further relaxations at incidence of 35
The next major opening step will only take place when the 7-day incidence is stable at a maximum of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. Then the retail trade, museums and galleries as well as businesses with services requiring close physical contact will be allowed to reopen. For shops, the rule is: one customer per 20 square metres.

The current shutdown was imposed on 4 November due to persistently high coronavirus infection figures and has meanwhile be extended several times. The next federal and state consultations are scheduled for 3 March.

Femi Awoniyi

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