EXPLAINED: What to know about Germany’s social distancing rules

EXPLAINED: What to know about Germany's social distancing rules
People walking in Leipzig on May 25th. Photo: DPA
Germany extended social distancing restrictions until June 29th. Here's an overview of the current rules.

Germany wants to continue to slow the spread of coronavirus. On Tuesday May 26th, the government and states agreed to extend the so-called contact restrictions up to June 29th.

They had initially been extended until June 5th, and were put in place in mid-March to stem the spread of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Germany extends coronavirus distance rules to June 29th

The federal government says that if outbreaks occur then further contact restrictions or measures can be implemented.

Here's an overview of the general rules, although the restrictions can differ in each of Germany's 16 federal states. For example, Thuringia is ending social distancing requirements on June 13th and will replace them with recommendations.

Check with state authorities for the most up-to-date restrictions list.

  • In order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading and to protect individuals from becoming infected, people in Germany must continue to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from each other in public places (excluding families and people who live in the same household)
  • Currently, people from two separate households are allowed to meet in public. Now, individual states can choose to keep this rule or allow up to 10 people – or the members of two households – to meet in public
  • Private gatherings are allowed – but people are urged to stick to social distancing rules – again, though, this can vary from state to state
  • The government recommends that residents keep the number of people they are in contact with with as low as possible and keep their circle of friends/family as consistent as possible.
  • In certain public places, such as shops and public transport, the use of face masks is mandatory

'The virus is still there'

The number of new Covid-19 infections in Germany is at a “low level” a month after the restrictions were eased, signalling that distance and hygiene rules have been well implemented and observed, the government said.

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“We would like to thank all citizens who have made this possible and who consistently adhere to these rules,” said the government and states in the new document outlining the rules. “However, the virus is still there and will spread very quickly without such measures.”

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

The government says this was evident before the restrictions came into place in mid-March in Germany, and that trend is also being seen in local outbreaks or at gatherings. 

“Therefore, particularly in view of the gradual opening of all areas of life and the associated increase in contacts, it is essential that rules of distance and hygiene remain integrated into everyday life” as long as there is no vaccine or treatment, said the government.

Authorities say that people should be able to trace contacts so that infection chains can be stamped out quickly.

READ ALSO: Why it's still not possible to hug all your friends and family in Germany

The government and states have agreed on hygiene and distancing plans for areas such as sport, culture and transport to allow the reopening of more public life.

When it comes to meetings (such as in the workplace or at home), these are the new rules:

  • Hygiene and distance rules should also be implemented for private meetings at home in closed rooms, and the number of people should be measured according to the possibility of observing the 1.5 metre distance rule
  • Sufficient ventilation should be provided through opening windows and the number of people should be limited accordingly
  • Where possible, private meetings should be held outdoors, as there is a considerably lower risk of infection
  • The traceability of all meeting participants should be guaranteed

Throughout the pandemic, you should also try and follow these guidelines:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow, use disposable tissues and throw them away
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after being outside and before you eat
  • Avoid crowds or groups of people
  • Avoid gestures, such as shaking hands or hugging
  • Ventilate rooms in your home regularly
  • Try to avoid using public transport when possible
  • Try and avoid travelling if possible – even within Germany (there are many border restrictions at the moment)
  • Try and avoid shopping during busy periods
  • Keep a distance of 1.5 to 2 metres from other people

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