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Berlin’s coronavirus lockdown exit plan: The key dates to know

The German capital has unveiled a plan for reopening public life. Here's some key dates to know.

Berlin's coronavirus lockdown exit plan: The key dates to know
The owner of Berlin's Brauhaus Georgbraeu prepares for its opening on Friday at noon. Photo: DPA

On Friday, Berlin loosened more of its requirements as restaurants and cafes were allowed to open again under strict hygienic conditions. 

Berlin and neighbouring state Brandenburg are coordinating their lockdown exits together; however there may be some regional differences.

May 15th

Restaurants and cafés will be allowed to open again from Friday May 15th onwards. Both indoor and outdoor dining will be allowed but special distancing and hygiene measures will have to be in place, such as maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between chairs.

Restaurants and cafés will allowed to be open from 6 am until 10pm.

The establishments may only be visited alone, with members of your own household or with people from one other household.

However, there is no upper limit on how many people can sit at a table. But because the eateries have to observe the rule on distance, they will have fewer guests than usual.

Some outlets will ask that guests leave their contact information, in case there is a coronavirus case reported, although it's not a requirement

Since mid-March food outlets in Berlin have had to operate on reduced opening hours and only offer takeaway.

Bars, pubs and clubs are excluded from opening. These were the trouble spots at the beginning of the pandemic, said Berlin mayor Michael Müller.     

Sports

Also from May 15th, sports clubs will be allowed to resume training as long as it is outdoors and only in smaller groups. No contact will be allowed.

Open-air swimming pools will also be able to open again on May 25th. A concept for how to do this safely is being developed, Müller said.

Gyms will remain closed for the time being.

READ ALSO: 'First phase of coronavirus pandemic is behind us,' says Merkel

May 25th

Hotels will be allowed to accept guests again from May 25th, but distance and hygiene rules will have to be enforced.

There will be other rules such as hotels will not be allowed to serve breakfast buffets. Instead, guests will have to be offered an individual breakfast.

In the leisure and wellness areas, the number of people per sauna should be limited. When dealing with guests, staff will have to keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres and to avoid physical contact such as shaking hands.

Cleaning staff in hotels should, if possible, be assigned their own floor with the same rooms at all times, according to guidelines being drawn up.

Domestic tourism will play an increasingly important role in the coming weeks, because international tourism has come to a standstill, said Müller.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travelling within Germany this summer

May 9th

Which restrictions have already been lossened

From Saturday May 9th, size restrictions for the retail trade was dropped, in line with Germany-wide restrictions.

That means all shops were allowed to open their doors – but there are strict social distancing conditions.

Retail outlets can only admit a limited number of people to ensure there's only one customer per 20 square metres.

Relaxing of social distancing rules

Also from May 9th and in line with Germany-wide guidelines, people from two separate households could meet in public (or in restaurants when they open), such as two families, two couples, or the members of two shared flats.

When meeting, 1.5 metre distance must be maintained where possible.

The previous requirement meant that only two people could meet in public.

May 11th

From Monday May 11th, personal services such as beauty salons and cosmetic studios were able to open their doors again to visitors, again with strict hygiene measures in place. Hairdressers were allowed to reopen across Germany from May 4th.

More pupils were able to return to schools in Berlin from May 11th. The aim is to get all pupils back in the classroom at least on a part-time basis by May 29th.

Music schools and youth art schools could be opened for individual lessons and small groups also from May 11th. Cinemas and concert halls will remain closed for now.

Lockdown could return

In line with Germany-wide rules, if the number of coronavirus infections spikes, lockdown measures will be imposed again.

If more than 50 new infections per 100,000 residents are detected within seven days then action must be taken.

“1,800 to 2,000 new infections per week would be permitted under this cap,” said economics minister Ramona Pop. “We are looking at the figures Berlin-wide.”

As of Friday May 15th Berlin had a total of 6,397 confirmed coronavirus infections, according to Johns Hopkins University figures and about 177 deaths.

Nearly 5,737 people are reported to have recovered from Covid-19 in Berlin.

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COVID-19 RULES

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

Health ministers across Germany's 16 states are debating the government's new Covid plan - and politicians in Bavaria say they want more clarity.

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

On Tuesday, federal and state health ministers planned to discuss the Covid protection proposals for autumn and winter presented last week by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

However, some states and politicians are not satisfied with the plans. 

Under the proposals, masks will remain mandatory in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to introduce further measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport.

States will also have the power to take tougher Covid measures if the situation calls for it, such as mandatory masks indoors, but lockdowns and school closures have been ruled out. 

READ ALSO Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

The draft law states that there can be exceptions from wearing masks in indoor spaces, such as restaurants, for recently Covid-vaccinated or recovered people. 

But Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) told DPA that these planned exemptions were not justified because vaccinated and recovered people can still transmit infections. “There are clear gaps in the current draft law,” said the CSU politician.

Dominik Spitzer, health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bavarian state parliament, also questioned this exception, saying the rules “simply made no sense”.

“With the current virus variant, that would be impossible to convey, since even vaccinated people can continue to carry the virus,” the FDP politician told Bavarian broadcaster BR24. 

The coalition government’s graduated plan under the new Infection Protection Act, is set to be in force from October 1st until April 7th next year. 

The powers for the states are a first step, “but they do not go far enough for us”, Holetschek added, while calling for some points to be tightened up. “We need strong guidelines for autumn and winter.”

Holetschek said the government needed to tighten up the criteria with which states can adopt and enforce more effective measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Could Germany see a ‘patchwork’ of Covid rules?

Meanwhile, CDU health politician Erwin Rüddel said Germany was on the “wrong track” and the country should find “a completely different approach” to Covid policy than it has so far.

He accused the coalition government of being in “panic mode” and said he doubted the Bundestag would pass the proposals.

“I believe, there will be significant changes (to the draft)”, he said.

But the chairperson of the doctors’ association Marburger Bund, Susanne Johna, backed the plans.

“The proposal for the new Infection Protection Act gives the states sufficient possibilities to react adequately to the infection situation,” Johna told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

“The states can take regionally adapted measures to protect people if the need arises. I can’t understand why this concept is being called into question right away.”

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