EXPLAINED: What closes and what stays open across Germany’s states during the shutdown?

A pub getting ready to close in Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: DPA
Much of public life is closing this month. But what exactly will this mean for your life? And are there differences from state to state? We break down what you can expect.

On Monday, many businesses and facilities were forced to close for a month as part of nationwide rules to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

The aim is to bring the situation under control so that hospitals do not become overrun and so that people can meet again at Christmas time.

Keep in mind there are some different regulations in the individual states – we've listed some here. 

READ ALSO: Germany enters month-long partial lockdown

Hospitality

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars are closed. They can only offer or deliver food and drinks for pick-up. Opening times can differ from state to state. In Berlin there is a ban on opening and selling alcohol after 11pm, whereas in Munich the curfew is 10pm.

Canteens

Canteens in the workplace can open. Stricter rules apply such as only two people can sit at the same table.

Culture

Theatres, operas, museums, concert halls, cinemas and memorial sites have to close. All entertainment events, such as concerts or dance venues, are not allowed “with a physically present audience”. However, events on the Internet, such as streaming concerts, are of course permitted. Libraries and music schools can remain open in some states.

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Leisure

Leisure parks, amusement arcades, casinos, betting shops, saunas, steam baths and brothels have to close.

In most states zoos and animal parks are closed but not in Berlin: the outdoor facilities there can remain open in some places.

READ ALSO: Can I travel in Germany in November?

Playgrounds

Playgrounds are not explicitly mentioned in the government decree. However, it can be assumed that they will remain open. Children do not have to keep a minimum distance of 15 metres in outdoor playgrounds – but accompanying parents do.

Sports

Fitness and sports studios, swimming and fun pools are closed. Amateur sports activities are not allowed, so clubs are no longer allowed to train.

There is this exception in Berlin (and possibly other states); For children up to 12, training in the open air is possible in fixed groups of up to 10 people.

Individual sports, such as jogging alone or in pairs, are still permitted. Professional sports such as the German Football League are only permitted without spectators.

Services

Beauty salons, massage practices and tattoo studios are closed. Medically necessary treatments such as physiotherapists, alternative practitioners, speech therapists or chiropody are still possible. Hairdressers also remain open.

However, tattoos, nail care and cosmetic treatments are still available in Thuringia, for example. Tanning shops are still allowed in Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules of Germany's November shutdown?

Supermarkets and shops

The retail trade sector remains open. However, only one person per 10 square metres of sales area is allowed. The shops must control access. In some busier areas you may come across queues outside.

Post offices and banks

There is no explicit mention of post offices and banks in the government rules so it can be assumed they will stay open, but with tighter rules such as those applying to shops

Meetings

Demonstrations, church services, parliamentary sessions or party conferences are still allowed. There are no upper limits for participants, but the available space must be taken into account in the distance and hygiene plan.

For demonstrations with more than 20 participants, masks are compulsory. For smaller demonstrations, masks are only needed if demonstrators chant slogans.

Events

There are tough restrictions on events but the rules vary from state to state.

In Bavaria, events of all kinds are forbidden, not only those for entertainment purposes. More “serious” events such as club meetings are also not allowed.

In Berlin outdoor commercial events with more than 100 people present at the same time are prohibited, as are indoor events with more than 50 participants. For funerals and wakes up to 50 people are allowed outside and up to 20 people in closed rooms. Fairs and Christmas markets, which normally start at the end of November, are not allowed to open.

Face masks

Masks are still compulsory in bus and train stations, as well as shops. They are also not allowed in many states in airports, medical practices, libraries, office buildings except at your desk and schools.

Check the rules on masks in your local area.

Schools and Kindergartens

Schools and kindergartens remain open. The same applies to social and youth welfare institutions. If infections rise too much, there may be local closures.

READ ALSO: 'Four long months': Germany faces hard winter, warns Merkel

Hotels

Hotels and guesthouses in Germany can no longer accept tourists.

In most states, guests had to pack their bags and leave on Monday or as soon as possible after that. Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein explicitly set Monday midday as the deadline for tourists to leave. For holidaymakers on the islands in Schleswig-Holstein, tourists have three days extra due to departure traffic.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, those tourists who checked into a hotel or guesthouse before Friday may continue their holidays there as planned. Those who have booked from October 30th onwards must leave on Monday at the latest.

Other businesses and workplaces

These will stay open. Employers are urged to allow their staff to work from home if possible. If not, a hygiene plan to protect staff must be in place.

Public offices

These should remain open but there may be tighter restrictions and less availability for appointments. Some services can be done online. For example in Berlin the Anmeldung process can be completed online or in the post until December 31st this year.

Universities

Universities are moving to online teaching for November. Up until this point there's been a mix of digital and face-to-face teaching. 

Some universities are even moving their entire winter semester online.

How many people can you meet?

Everyone in Germany is required to reduce contacts outside their own household to the absolute minimum.

In principle, the government and states have decided that only members of two households can meet in public and a maximum of 10 people in total. There's a strong recommendation not to gather privately. There are differences in the states:

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg say only two households and a maximum of 10 people can meet in private at home (as well as in public).

In Berlin you can be in public or indoors: 1. alone, 2. with people of your own household and two other people from different households, or 3. members of two households with a maximum of 10 people.

Saarland, on the other hand, wants to allow a maximum of five people from another household or the “family circle” to meet in private households.

In Bremen, two households are allowed to meet outdoors, but also up to five people who do not live together.

In Hesse, the word is blurred: meetings and celebrations within one's own home are permitted to a small private circle.

Some states, such as Berlin and Hamburg, exempt children under the age of 12 from the 10-person limit.

Helpful websites for planning:

Editor's note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.

 


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