Corona will also lead to changes at Deutsche Bahn in December as the rail company will have to significantly increase the distances between its passengers and the frequencies on some popular routes just as it will launch its winter timetable/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Germany: New laws and regulations in December 2020

The last month of 2020 will also see many legal changes. In the Corona pandemic, hardly a week goes by without inhabitants of the country having to adapt to new laws or regulations. The partial lockdown has been extended, Deutsche Bahn will raise its prices and the Hartz 4 standard rates will also rise. There will be changes not only in rail transport but also in air travel as some airlines will continue to waive the rebooking fee for their customers.

These and other new legal regulations will take effect in December. Here is an overview:


Partial Lockdown

Probably the most important and far-reaching change is the decision to extend the current partial lockdown until 20 December. The measures to contain the coronavirus have been in place since 2 November but have been further strengthened for December.

For example, only a maximum of five people from two households may meet in public. Children under the age of 14 are excluded from this rule. In the private sphere, meetings are to be restricted to the permanent household.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are an exception. Here, meetings with a maximum of ten people from different households are allowed. However, it is forbidden to light fireworks and firecrackers in public places.

READ ALSO These Lockdown Rules Apply in December in Germany


Deutsche Bahn changes timetable

Deutsche Bahn will introduce a new timetable as from 13 December. The winter timetable will then be valid until June 2021. Certain tickets can already be purchased now, the company announces on its homepage.

The pandemic will also lead to changes as Deutsche Bahn will have to significantly increase the distances between its passengers because of the decisions taken by the federal and state governments. Those travelling alone will automatically be allocated a window seat. Groups and couples may only sit next to each other in selected areas. As a result, only limited reservations for long-distance travel are possible for the whole of December.

Other changes mainly affect the popular routes between Hamburg-Berlin, NRW-Berlin and Munich-Zurich. Between Hamburg and Berlin, trains will run every half hour for the first time and there will be a new long-distance stop, on a trial basis, at Ringsheim/Europa-Park. In addition, Deutsche Bahn promises to improve services on routes such as Bonn and Berlin, Munich and Zurich as well as Berlin and Krakow. According to, prices for long-distance services will rise by an average of one percent.


Lufthansa, Ryanair extend free rebooking for flights

There will be changes in December not only in rail transport but also in air travel. Some airlines will continue to waive the rebooking fee for their customers in December and January. As reports, this applies to Ryanair, for example, for all flights booked after 10 June 2020. However, customers must notify the airline of changes at least seven days in advance.

Lufthansa will also waive rebooking fees (Umbuchungsgebuehr) as well as for its subsidiaries Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines in December. “All our fares and tickets can be rebooked, for short, medium and long-haul flights, for existing as well as new bookings,” the company’s website states.


More Hartz IV for singles, couples and children

Hartz IV recipients can look forward to higher standard rates in 2021. But watch out: The money will already be transferred in December this year. According to this, a single person will receive 14 euros more because of the adjustment, bringing the monthly pay to 446 euros. The standard rate for youths aged 14 and older will climb by 45 euros to 373 euros.

Partners and married couples will in future receive 401 euros and adults under 25 years of age without their own household 357 euros. For children up to five years of age, the standard rate increases by 33 euros to 283 euros per month. For 6 to 13-year-olds, the rate increases by only one euro to 309 euros.

READ ALSO Bundesrat approves increase in unemployment and child benefits

Buying property becomes safer and more transparent

Changes will also affect property market from December 2021. For example, the payment of the estate agent’s commission (Maklerprovision) will change when buying property.

Whereas the buyers of a property used to have to bear 100 percent of the costs themselves, the distribution of the commission will change from 23 December 2020: “The costs to be paid by the buyer should only amount to a maximum of 50 percent of the total brokerage fee,” the Federal Government has announced. At the same time, the buyer will only be obliged to pay his share if the seller has already done so. This is intended to make the purchase of real estate in Germany not only more secure but also more transparent.

Femi Awoniyi

READ ALSO New laws and regulations in November 2020 in Germany



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