German states agree to extensive loosening of coronavirus restrictions

German states agree to extensive loosening of coronavirus restrictions

After several more hours of negotiations, Angela Merkel and the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states have reached a compromise on how to proceed with the loosening of coronavirus restrictions. 

German government and states agree to loosening of restrictions

During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Angela Merkel announced that she and the state leaders had finally agreed upon a set of key points, to allow for an extensive loosening of coronavirus restrictions.

Most significantly, the agreement hands responsibility for easing coronavirus restrictions back to the states - meaning they essentially have free reign to keep or scrap measures as they see fit. However, some general rules will apply nationwide. Here’s an overview of the key points. 

Federal states take responsibility for measures

The federal states will assume responsibility for further easing of coronavirus restrictions, meaning that Germany’s largely uniform approach to tackling the outbreak will now begin to splinter even further, after some states began to independently lift measures at the beginning of the week. Decisions as to the reopening of restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, guest houses and holiday homes will be left to the individual states. 

The state leaders have also agreed to an “emergency mechanism”, according to which they must react immediately in the case of any negative consequences. Should the number of acute coronavirus infections rise above 50 per 100.000 residents in any given region or city within seven days, they have agreed to re-implement strict social distancing measures. 

Changes to contact restrictions

The state premiers also agreed to relax existing contact restrictions, so that members of two households will be allowed to meet up in public. That means you are allowed out on your own, with the members of your own household and also with the members of one other household. 

On the other hand, the other contact restrictions, including minimum distance and protective face covering requirements, will be extended until at least June 5. 

The regulations made in other states like Saxony-Anhalt (which is allowing up to five people to meet in public, regardless of household) and Bavaria remain unaffected by the new resolution. 

All shops to open

The previous guideline, which only allowed shops with retail areas of up to 800 square metres to reopen, will be lifted. All shops will be allowed to reopen, regardless of their size. Instead, there will be guidelines for the maximum number of customers and staff, based on the sales area, and shops will be obliged to take hygiene precautions and avoid queues. 

Students to return to school

A nationwide coordinated response is hardly the norm when it comes to schools in Germany - but the states have agreed that all pupils will return to school, step by step, by the summer holidays.

Emergency childcare in schools and daycare centres is to be expanded, but Merkel warned that this will still take some time, and called for patience. Each federal state has already developed its own concept for this. 

Outdoor sports activities to resume

Outdoor sport and training activities will be allowed to resume, for non-contact sports, as long as at least 1,5 metres distance can be maintained. Strict hygiene measures will have to be strictly observed, especially when sharing sports equipment. 

Ban on large events

Large-scale events like festivals, sporting events, concerts and funfairs will remain prohibited until at least August 31. 

Bundesliga football matches to resume

Bundesliga matches will be allowed to resume, without spectators, from mid-May onwards. The exact date will be left up to the league to decide. 

Visitors allowed in care homes

The strict restrictions on visitors in clinics, nursing homes and disabled facilities will be relaxed nationwide. According to the new rules, each patient or resident will be allowed to designate one person, who will be allowed to visit them as much as they like. The prerequisite for this is that there are no “active coronavirus infections” in that facility. 

Further measures to be decided by federal states

Each state in Germany is now free to adopt its own approach as to the opening up of restaurants, bars, hotels, cinemas and theatres. While some federal states have already decided how to proceed, others have yet to come up with a strategy. More details are expected in the coming days. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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