Majority of Germans are social distancing but don’t support nationwide coronavirus lockdown

A new ongoing study has found how people in Germany are drastically changing their lives amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Majority of Germans are social distancing but don't support nationwide coronavirus lockdown
A woman in Neubiberg, Bavaria, wearing a protective face mask while shopping. Photo: DPA

The University of Mannheim has been asking people in Germany how their daily lives have changed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in a bid to find out the psychological, economic and social effects of the crisis.

Researchers, led by data scientist Annelies Blom, have found that the frequency with which people meet friends has decreased significantly in recent weeks.

Before measures to stem the spread of coronavirus began being introduced in early March, 42 percent of people said they were meeting with other people several times a week. However, between March 25th and 31st that figure had dropped to just five percent.

According to the “Corona Study”,which aims to provide daily reports on everyday life in the time of coronavirus, 69 percent of Germans have now switched to “no longer meeting friends at all” and are following the “social distancing” rules.

Germany banned gatherings of more than two on March 22nd as part of wide-ranging social contact restrictions.

Blom told Spiegel: “On the one hand, it is good that people are following the guidelines, but as a social researcher, I am also somewhat concerned about this, because such a quarantine situation can have negative consequences for mental and physical health.”


Meanwhile, 95 percent of respondents to the study said they supported a ban on events, while 92 percent accepted the closure of public institutions.

However, the study found people were much more critical of nationwide lockdowns, such as those seen in Italy, Spain and France.

This kind of action would only be acceptable in Germany for 41 percent of those questioned, the survey found.

“But that could also change with the actual introduction of the measure,” said Blom. “So if it were decided that a general curfew was necessary, the population could change their opinion and then consider it appropriate.”

Surveys carried out between March 20th and 23rd showed that almost 60 percent of Germans were continuing to work regularly “on site” – despite calls for as many people as possible to work from home – while only 21.2 percent have moved to a home office.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

Meanwhile, 6.1 percent of those surveyed are now in Kurzarbeit – a measure that sees the government top up the pay of workers placed on shorter hours by their employer – and 12.7 percent have been released from work, either with or without pay.

Researchers are surveying thousands of people online in the representative study to find out how they are dealing with the crisis. They began the surveys on March 20th.

On average, around 500 people take part in the study every day.


Everyday life – (der) Alltag

General curfew or lockdown – (die) allgemeine Ausgangssperre

Ban on events – (das) Veranstaltungsverbot

Coronavirus outbreak – (der) Corona-Ausbruch

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Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.