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Customers queue in front of a small baker’s shop in Berlin, in compliance with the social distancing measures in force during the first lockdown in April/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

COVID-19: The New Lockdown Measures in Germany

To contain the corona pandemic, the Federal Government and the States (Länder) have decided on a nationwide partial lockdown in Germany. It will apply from Monday, 2 November, until the end of the month, according to a resolution of a virtual meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers on Wednesday. The so-called nationwide “lockdown light” is a less intensive version of the measures that brought society and economic activity to a standstill in the spring. With strict contact restrictions for citizens and an extensive shutdown of all leisure activities, the Federal Government and the Länder want to break the second wave of corona infections. The agreed measures are to prevent an uncontrollable spread of the epidemic.

These are the new measures to be in force from 2-30 November 2020:

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Public meetings and celebrations
Everyone is encouraged to keep contact with other people outside their own household to the absolute minimum. Only members of one’s own household and of another household up to a maximum of ten persons are allowed to hang out together in public. Violations of these contact restrictions will be sanctioned by the authorities. Groups of people celebrating in public places as well as in private premises are “unacceptable in view of the seriousness of the situation”, according to the resolution paper.

Private meetings and celebrations
Only a maximum of ten persons from two households are allowed to be together in private residences/flats. It’s strongly recommended that private visits that are not very necessary should be avoided. Private visits are said to be a major spreader of the coronavirus.

Travel and Hotel accommodation
Unnecessary travel is strongly discouraged. Hotels and guesthouses are not allowed to take in tourists. Borders however will remain open.

Schools and kindergartens
Schools and kindergartens are to remain open. However, they could be closed in local hotspots and reopen when infection rates return to normal levels. States should introduce further protective measures.

Shopping
Retail outlets, such as supermarkets, furniture and fashion stores, baker shops, department stores etc, can remain open, subject to conditions relating to hygiene, access control and queuing. However, it must be ensured that there is no more than one customer per ten square metres in the shops. When the maximum capacity for a shop is reached other customers have to wait outside in a queue.

Entertainment events
Theatres, opera houses or concert halls must close. This also applies to trade fairs, cinemas, leisure parks, amusement arcades, casinos and betting facilities. Brothels and other places of prostitution are also to remain closed.

Religious gatherings
Churches can hold service, subject to the usual protective regulations

Sports facilities and sporting events
Recreational and amateur sports facilities must be closed as well as all public and private sports facilities, such as swimming and fun pools and fitness studios. Professional sports can only be staged, once again, without spectators. For the German Football League, this means four weeks of ghost games.

Restaurants and pubs
Restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, discos, pubs and similar establishments must close. Exceptions are made for delivery and take-away.

Barber shops and hairdressing salons
Cosmetic studios and massage or tattoo studios are closed. However, medically necessary treatments such as physiotherapy, ergotherapy and logotherapy as well as treatments in podiatry/pedicure should be possible. Hairdressing salons and barber shops will remain open – unlike in spring – but under the existing hygiene regulations.

Workplace
Employers must protect their employees from infections. For this reason, according to the resolution, every company in Germany must “implement a hygiene concept based on an adapted risk assessment and company pandemic planning and adapt it again in view of the increased number of infections”. Contacts within the workforce that are not absolutely necessary must be avoided. All those who can work from home should do so and employers should make it easier for their employees to work from home.

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Help for companies
The Federal Government will extend financial aid to affected economic sectors and improve conditions for the cultural and event industry and for self-employed persons. In addition, the emergency loan from the state-owned KfW banking group will be opened and adjusted for companies with fewer than ten employees. Companies with up to 50 employees and the self-employed will receive 75% of their normal income in support. Emergency loans will be made available for self-employed workers such as artists while small businesses with less than 10 employees will gain access to very cheap loans.

Rapid tests for risk groups
Rapid corona tests will be made available quickly and as a priority for the sick, people in need of care, the elderly and the physically challenged. 

Compliance controls
Controls will be strengthened across the board to ensure compliance with the measures. Compliance with the quarantine regulations is to be checked repeatedly, particularly in areas close to the border. In addition, the Federal Government and the Länder want to provide citizens with more information about the corona measures “and increase clarity by means of measures that are as uniform as possible”, the paper states.

Femi Awoniyi

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