Coronavirus: Germany to reopen religious buildings, museums and playgrounds

Coronavirus: Germany to reopen religious buildings, museums and playgrounds
Playgrounds are closed in Germany to limit the spread of coronavirus. Photo: DPA
Germany is to further ease curbs on public life, with religious institutions, museums and zoos to be given the green light to reopen.

Rules to maintain social distancing to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus will apply, according to a plan approved Chancellor Angela Merkel and premiers of Germany's 16 states on Thursday April 30th.

In order to receive visitors, the institutions will have to meet “requirements for hygiene, access control and avoidance of queues”, according to the plan.

A €10 million support programme for assisting institutions with corona-related measures is to be set up in the short term.

The government is also allowing children's outdoor playgrounds to reopen. They have been closed for several weeks in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.

Parents should make sure that overcrowded facilities are avoided and that basic hygiene rules are observed, according to a draft report on the topic.

Slowly relaxing curbs

Germany has in the last weeks began to unwind stay-at-home measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, with shops allowed to receive customers again since last week.

Restrictions were relaxed after the infection rate fell under 1.0 – meaning each person is infecting less than one other – as opposed to each infecting up five or six people.

With a relatively low death rate of four percent, Germany has been hailed for its success so far in preventing its health services from being overwhelmed.

Ahead of Thursday's talks with state premiers, Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun said that the 'no contact' measures, which include a ban on gatherings of more than two people in public (excluding families and household members) and 1.5 metres distance between people, would “certainly” remain in place for the time being up to and including May 10th.

The question of whether restaurants and bars would be allowed to reopen would not be addressed Thursday but at the next meeting between Merkel and state premiers on May 6th.

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So here's an overview of topics to be discussed by Merkel and state leaders on Thursday:

– Decisions on further major opening steps (such as for bars and restaurants) are not expected to be taken until May 6th. At present, it is difficult to assess the impact of the previous relaxation on the infection rate.

– Social distancing restrictions will remain in place until at least May 10th.

– Playgrounds can open again. Parents would have to be responsible for ensuring that their children observe the hygiene rules.

– Museums, exhibitions, memorials, zoos and botanical gardens can reopen under certain conditions.

– Religious services and prayer meetings will be permitted again – under special requirements of infection protection. Baptisms, circumcisions and weddings as well as funeral services should be possible in small groups.


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