‘Rest breaks are allowed’: What you need to know about Berlin’s new coronavirus rules and fines

‘Rest breaks are allowed’: What you need to know about Berlin’s new coronavirus rules and fines
Police patrolling Volkspark Friedrichshain last weekend. Photo: DPA
Berlin has extended measures in place to stem the spread of coronavirus up to and including April 19th. But officials say restrictions could be in place in some form throughout the year.

Berlin's parks and larger city squares will remain open – and people are allowed to take short 'rest breaks' on benches – as long as they maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from others, the capital's local government decided on Thursday.

And lying or sitting down on the grass or blankets in parks is also permitted as a break between exercise, as long as a minimum distance of five metres to other people is maintained.

Under the update to the restrictions put into place on March 23rd, barbecues and picnics are not allowed. To avoid overcrowding, parks or green spaces can also be partially or fully closed off.

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Meanwhile, people in Berlin are no longer required to carry ID and proof of address under the amended coronavirus restrictions.

That's what the Berlin Senate decided on Thursday April 2nd evening as they extended the restrictions imposed to contain coronavirus until after the Easter holidays, which end on April 19th.

It follows the German government's decision to extend the 'ban on social contact' until this date. Under the rules gatherings of more than two outside are banned, and non-essential shops must remain closed.

For more information on the original Berlin partial lockdown rules read our story here (but note that the ID requirement is no longer in place).

Restrictions could be in place for the rest of the year

It came as Berlin's interior minister Andreas Geisel said on Friday that distance restrictions could apply in some form for the rest of the year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Geisel said on Friday on RBB Inforadio that the aim was “to reduce the speed of infection so that we do not overburden the health system, and to prevent conditions like those in Spain or Italy”.

And he said the crisis would not be over on April 19th.

“We will have to be prepared for the fact that we will certainly have to relax this lockdown in the course of April, May…But the restrictions, the distance regulations, the change in our habits – I fear that this will accompany us throughout the year,” he said.

Berlin's local government has also approved a catalogue of fines aimed at those who flout the rules.

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Here’s some important amendments agreed by the Berlin Senate:

  • People no longer have to carry ID and proof of address when out in public. This requirement has been removed from the original regulation
  • Commercial excursions and sightseeing tours are not allowed to take place
  • Operators of holiday apartments are not allowed to offer tourist accommodation
  • Canteens for employees, members of the armed forces and the police may only be operated if suitable precautions are taken to ensure hygiene, control access and minimum distances
  • Dry cleaners are allowed to be open (laundrettes are already allowed to be open)
  • Sport and exercise in the open air, alone, with members of your own household or with one other person, without any other group formation, remains permitted
  • Rest breaks are allowed on permanently installed seating (such as a bench), provided that a minimum distance of 1.5 metres is maintained from others
  • Rest breaks are also allowed in open spaces, provided that a minimum distance of 5 metres from others is maintained
  • Barbecues and picnics are not allowed
  • To avoid overcrowding, access restrictions for parks and green areas can be put in place by authorities 
  • Examinations at universities may be carried out, provided that a minimum distance of 1.5 metres is maintained between those present.
  • Travellers arriving at Berlin-Tegel or Berlin-Schönefeld airports from outside Germany, even if they’ve changed planes at another airport in Germany, must go directly to their flat or usual accommodation immediately after their entry and stay there permanently (self-isolate) for a period of 14 days after their return

Görlitzer Park in Berlin this week. Photo: DPA

Fines

The local government also passed a catalogue of fines for violations of the coronavirus restrictions under the Infection Protection Act (IfSG).

Here's some important points to keep in mind:

  • Anyone who fails to keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from others outdoors faces a fine of between €25 and €500
  • People who violate the requirement to stay in their home and only go outside for good reasons (such as for exercise, going to work, to the doctor, or essential shopping) can be fined between €10 and €100
  • If you are outdoors in groups of three or more people who are not part of your family or household, you face a fine of between €25 and €250
  • If you fail to comply with an ordered domestic quarantine, fines of between €250 and €2,500 can be imposed
  • Anyone who organises events will have to pay a fine of between €500 and €2,500. Participants of events will also be required to pay – with fines of between €25 and €500
  • Anyone who opens a business that is not among the explicitly declared exceptions faces a fine of between €1,000 and €10,000. This also applies to the opening of catering establishments, swimming pools and saunas
  • Those who accommodate tourists could be slapped with a fine of between €1,000 and €10,000

'High level of acceptance'

The governing mayor, Michael Müller of the Social Democrats (SPD), praised the overall behaviour of people in Berlin.

He said: “We all see that there is a high level of acceptance. That is good.”

He said medical facilities were able to keep up with the current rate of infection. “But we are far from out of the woods,” Müller added.

As of Friday morning, Berlin had more than 3,300 confirmed coronavirus cases and there have been 20 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Across Germany there were more than 84,700 cases and more than 1,100 deaths.


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