Shops open, schools closed: German coronavirus restrictions partially relaxed

Shops open, schools closed: German coronavirus restrictions partially relaxed

After several hours of deliberations, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states have reached an agreement on the gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Germany agrees to extend coronavirus restrictions, with some exceptions

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised that the ongoing coronavirus restrictions have achieved a “fragile interim success”. In order not to endanger this success, she said, restrictions should essentially remain in place until at least May 3. Here is an overview of the most important points.

Social distancing measures extended to May 3

The social distancing measures that have already been in place for the past few weeks have been extended to at least May 3. That means you should only be in public alone, with one other person, or with members of your immediate household. A 1,5 metre distance should be maintained at all times. 

Citizens have also been asked to continue refraining from private trips and visits to relatives. 

Schools will reopen gradually from May 4

Schools in Germany are to resume teaching on May 4. This will happen gradually, starting with the final-year classes, those that have exams in the coming year and the top primary school classes. Daycare centres and other forms of early-years childcare will remain closed for the time being.

Major events banned until August 31

Major events will remain prohibited until August 31. This also affects football games. Specific regulations, such as the exact number of people that constitutes a “major event” will be decided by the federal states. Religious gatherings are also off the cards for the foreseeable future. 

Shops up to 800 square metres to open

Shops with retail areas of up to 800 square metres will be allowed to open from Monday, April 20, but with clear rules in place: the number of visitors must be limited and hygiene rules put in place. Regardless of size, car dealers, bicycle shops and bookstores will be allowed to reopen, as long as the comply with hygiene regulations and are able to avoid queues. 

Restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas will remain closed for the time being, but hairdressers will be allowed to open from May 4 as long as protective measures are observed.  

Borders remain (partially) closed

The strict controls at Germany's borders, which have been in place for several weeks now already, will remain in effect for at least 20 more days. The 14 day quarantine for all arriving travellers will continue to be enforced.

Masks are recommended - but not compulsory

Both the federal and state governments agree that protective masks should be worn on public transport and when shopping, to protect oneself and others. However, this is issued as a “strong recommendation”, not an obligation. 

Further measures to be discussed at the end of the month

Merkel announced that she would meet with the state leaders again on April 30 to discuss further possible relaxations.



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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