Germany's Bundesrat passes nationwide "emergency brake" COVID-19 law
Federal emergency brake passes Bundesrat
After a heated debate on Thursday, the Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 federal states, approved a controversial amendment to the country’s Infection Protection Act. The bill is what is known as an Einspruchsgesetz, meaning it didn’t require the Bundesrat’s consent to pass.
It will now be put to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who can sign the law. It is expected to come into force in the coming days, at the earliest on Saturday, and will apply until the end of June initially.
What are the new measures in Germany?
In a nutshell, the law - which has been dubbed the “federal emergency brake” by German media - prescribes that if the number of new infections per 100.000 inhabitants within seven days (the seven-day incidence rate) rises above 100 in a district or city for three consecutive days, local authorities must impose tougher measures, including:
- A 10pm - 5am curfew
- Stricter contact restrictions (each household may only meet up with one person from a different household)
- Closure of nonessential shops except by appointment and with a negative COVID-19 test; if incidence rate rises above 150, shops may only offer Click & Collect
- Cultural and leisure facilities must remain closed, with exceptions for outdoor areas of zoos and botanical gardens
- Schools must switch to mixture of distance and classroom learning; from incidence of 165 face-to-face teaching must be suspended
- Employers must allow people to work from home
You can find a more detailed overview of the rules here.
Which regions are likely to be affected?
Currently, around 352 out of 412 districts and cities in Germany have a seven-day incidence rate above 100. Some have preemptively already imposed tougher restrictions. You should check local guidance to make sure if any different rules apply in your area.