New coronavirus restrictions in Germany: What's allowed and what's not?
Update: A partial relaxation of coronavirus measures in Germany was announced on April 15.
The German government and leaders of the 16 federal states agreed on Sunday to a range of unprecedented nationwide measures, designed to slow the spread of coronavirus in Germany.
Germany imposes new restrictions on public life
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Sunday that a nine-point plan was to be implemented nationwide to tackle the growing coronavirus crisis. As of Monday morning, the total number of coronavirus cases in Germany had climbed to 24.904, with 94 deaths.
The measures were agreed upon during a telephone meeting with the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states and are designed to prevent the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, to avoid overburdening Germany’s healthcare system. “That’s how we can save lives,” Merkel said. “Please let’s all pull together to do what’s right for our country. Show sense and heart.”
The new coronavirus measures
The new measures are as follows:
- People are encouraged to reduce contact with people outside their own household to an absolute minimum.
- Wherever possible, a minimum distance of 1,5 metres must be maintained between people in public.
- Spending time in public is only permitted on your own, with another person who does not live in the same household as you, or with members of your household.
- Groups of people celebrating in public places and in private homes / facilities are unacceptable given the serious situation.
- Gastronomy businesses must close, except those offering food deliveries and collections.
- Services companies in the field of personal care such as hairdressers, cosmetic studios, massage parlours and tattoo studios must close because physical proximity cannot be avoided. Medically-necessary appointments remain permitted.
- Hygiene regulations are to be implemented in all companies, especially those with visitors.
The new rules - which will initially remain in place for the next two weeks - were adopted in lieu of a strict lockdown like that imposed in other European countries like France, Spain and Italy.
The resolution states: “It is possible to go to work, receive emergency care, go shopping, visit the doctor, participate in meetings, necessary appointments and examinations, do individual sports and exercise in the fresh air - as well as other necessary activities.”
Federal states retain control over implementation
However, as Germany operates a federal system, there is likely to be some differentiation between the federal states as to how the new measures are implemented. Merkel herself described them as “guidelines.”
Along with Saarland, Bavaria has already implemented a state-wide lockdown and, according to the DPA, announced that it will not be following the new guidelines. Rhineland-Palatinate plans to enact a strict ban on contact, but the exact plan is not yet known.
Saxony will impose a movement restriction from Monday, March 23 onwards. Leaving the house will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. North Rhine-Westphalia, on the other hand, announced that it would be following the guidelines suggested by Merkel, implementing the two-person ban and imposing fines of up to 25.000 euros for those caught breaking the rules.
In Berlin, the state government is largely following the recommendations, but is strongly emphasising that people should stay "permanently at home" and only leave for essential activities like shopping for food, helping sick relatives or exercising. If you leave the house, you must carry a form of ID, such as an identity card or a passport, as well as a document showing your residential address, such as your registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung).