Authorities in some of Germany’s regions have begun easing restrictive measures on Monday as shops and museums open because of the coronavirus pandemic, local authorities said
The decision to begin lifting some of the restrictions was made at a meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel with regional heads on March 3. The authorities have agreed that from 8 March the restrictive measures, which were introduced back on 2 November 2020, can begin to be relaxed in regions with low incidence of the disease. At the same time, an “emergency brake” mechanism is envisaged – if within three days the sickness rate in the region increases to a certain level, the authorities will cancel the easing introduced from March 8.
The government has eased restrictions on social contacts, allowing private meetings between two households of up to five people, and allowing groups of up to 10 people to meet outdoors. Previously, only one person could meet with another family. There is also a nationwide lifting of the ban on non-food shops – in regions with a high incidence of the disease, they must take customers by appointment, and where the incidence of coronavirus is lower, shops can take customers freely, but control the number of customers.
Also in a number of regions, museums, galleries, memorial complexes, zoos and botanical gardens, which, like shops, can take visitors with a controlled number (one customer per 10, 20 or 40 square metres of space). This applies particularly to Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland and Saxony-Anhalt. In Berlin, on account of the public holiday of 8 March, these facilities can be open from Tuesday, 9 March. In Berlin, Hamburg, businesses that provide body care services, such as beauty studios, nail and tattoo parlours and similar businesses in low-volume city areas can also resume operations.
In some regions, such as Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, decisions on relaxation have been delegated to the district authorities, so some cities and districts have already introduced relaxation, while others have not. Thuringia, which has the highest incidence of the disease in the country, has not yet introduced any additional relaxations.
A nationwide regime of restrictive measures was introduced in Germany on November 2, it was tightened to lockdown from December 16 but has been eased since February, in particular, kindergartens and schools have reopened and hairdressing salons have been open since March 1. The incidence of coronavirus in recent days has been fluctuating between 4 and 11 thousand cases per day; at the peak of the second wave in November and December, more than 30 thousand cases per day were registered. At the same time, the number of deaths has been declining, with 34 deaths reported in March 7, the lowest since November 1. At the same time, vaccination is progressing slowly compared to some countries, with almost 2.5 million people (3% of the population) fully vaccinated, but almost all those vaccinated represent priority vaccination groups – the elderly, nursing home residents and staff, health workers and people with other illnesses.