IN PICTURES: How Germany is lifting its coronavirus lockdown

Germany has been slowly reintroducing public life and easing lockdown measures put in place to stem the coronavirus spread. Here are some of the best pictures.

IN PICTURES: How Germany is lifting its coronavirus lockdown
Veronika Ambach-Gattung (on the right) talks to her mother Hannelore Scheuerle in a tent in front of the Maria Königin old people's home in Rhineland Palatinate on Mother's Day on May 10th. Photo: DPA

In mid-March Germany began shutting down much of public life and from March 23rd people were urged to only leave their homes for essential reasons.

However, since April 20th, the lockdown has been gradually lifted. This week more businesses and facilities have been reopening, although contact restrictions and social distancing measures remain in place.

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

These photos, taken by DPA, show life around Germany during this time.

In some states pubs (known as Kneipen) and restaurants are preparing to open. In Mainz, Janine Geibel-Emden, of the traditional pub or Kneipe “Zur Andau”, stands behind a glass guard at the counter on May 11th. The pub in the city centre wants to reopen in compliance with coronavirus hygiene regulations.

Ulrike Haase adjusts a mouthguard on a doll in the restaurant at 'Hotel Haase' in Laatzen, Lower Saxony on May 12th. Due to corona requirements, seats have to be left free in restaurants. The Hotel Haase wants to use dolls so the restaurant does not look empty.

Guests sit outside at tables in front of the restaurant “Salon Schmitz” in Cologne on May 11th.

Gyms are beginning to reopen in Germany. The first state to allow them to open is North Rhine-Westphalia. At this gym in Cologne, a worker disinfects a machine, while a gym-goer works out wearing a face mask in the next image. Both photos were taken on May 11th.

An employee and customer at the tattoo studio “Mommy I'm Sorry” in Stuttgart on May 11th. Tattoo studios have been allowed to open in Baden-Württemberg since May 11th under certain conditions.

Tamara and Frank sitting with their daughter Marie on the North Sea beach of Harlesiel in Lower Saxony on May 10th. Regions are planning to restart the tourist industry in the coming weeks.

Elisabeth Djata, resident at the AWO elderly people's centre in Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, receives a bouquet of flowers from her grandson on May 10th. Now people in nursing homes are allowed one regular visit, under certain conditions.

A health care worker gives a thumbs up at the corona ward in the Municipal Hospital Dresden on May 11th.

Church-goers attend a service at the Heilgeistkirche in Stralsund, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on May 10th. Church services are allowed in Germany again with social distancing measures in place.

Passersby enjoy a spontaneous concert on Merianplatz in the Nordend district of Frankfurt am Main on May 10th.

People playing volleyball in Berlin on May 10th. Non-contact sports are allowed in Germany once again.



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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.”