Germany allows two households to meet as coronavirus contact ban eased

The German-wide requirement of maintaining 1.5 metres of distance between people has been extended until June 5th – but the number of people who can meet up is no longer limited to two.

Germany allows two households to meet as coronavirus contact ban eased
People in Berlin's Tempelhof airfield on April 4th 2020. Photo: DPA

People from two separate households can meet from now on, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state premiers decided on Wednesday May 6th.

The previous requirement stated that only two people (excluding families or those from the same household) could meet outside in public.

Over the past weeks, federal and state governments have been debating how to ease the lockdown and social distancing restrictions put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: How to do social distancing in Germany

Some states have already relaxed the contact ban rules: in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, for example, five people not belonging to the same household have been allowed to meet since Monday.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Merkel supported the measure from the western state of Saarland, which allows two households to meet.

The measure was also also backed by Schleswig-Holstein's Minister President Daniel Günther, of the centre-right CDU, and Bavaria's head of government Markus Söder, of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, who said it matched up well with “the realities of life.”

During the the meeting it was also decided that all shops in Germany reopen under certain hygienic conditions, thus lifting the previous restriction of 800 square metres. 

Before the conference call, state premiers had gone public with their own plans for further easing the restrictions.

Meanwhile, a draft plan was drawn up before the meeting, detailing what life after lockdown could look like.

Merkel is expected to issue an official statement later on Wednesday. 

READ ALSO: Germany set to reopen all shops and schools in May

Member comments

  1. Is this rule to meet at public places or at home ? Can I invite 3 or 4 household over to my home ?

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‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.


Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music