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What’s closing (and staying open) under new lockdown rules in Germany?

On Wednesday Germany entered a tougher lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. That means several shops and services are closing - while others remain open.

What's closing (and staying open) under new lockdown rules in Germany?
People passing through a shopping mall in Mainz on Monday before it closed. Photo: DPA

Here's look at what's staying open and closing until at least the end of the stricter lockdown measures on January 10th.

What will remain open?

Markets

It’s still possible to shop at supermarkets and grocery stores, as well as health food stores (Reformhäuser) and stores which sell wholesale products (Großhandel).

Specialty stores

Pick-up and delivery services, baby supply stores (Babyfachmärkte), pet supply stores, pharmacies, medical stores (Sanitätshäuser), feed markets, opticians, hearing aid acousticians (Hörgeräteakustiker) and drug stores will also keep their doors open over the holidays.

Places selling Christmas trees, for example in the parking lots of construction stores, can also remain open. 

READ ALSO: Job fears grow in Germany as coronavirus closes shops again

Daily services 

Customers can continue going to use post offices, banks and Sparkassen (savings banks), dry cleaning shops and laundrettes. 

Transportation related services

Petrol stations, car repair shops and bicycle repair shops will continue to offer their services.

A woman shopping for a Christmas tree in Dortmund on Monday. Christmas tree markets are allowed to remain open during the extended lockdown. Photo: DPA

What is closing?

Personal care treatments

Personal care services such as hairdressing salons, cosmetic studios, massage practices, tattoo studios and similar businesses must close. Up until this point hairdressers remained open, but other personal services had to close on November 2nd. 

However, medical treatments, for example physiotherapy, occupational therapy and logotherapy as well as podiatry/foot care will remain possible.

Retail

All shopping malls and retail stores are closing. Electronic chains, construction stores (Baumärkte) and book stores must largely also close – however, some states such as Berlin are making exceptions for book stores, as they also did in the spring partial lockdown.

Schools

Schools are closed as of today – or there is no longer a requirement to be present. Emergency care will be provided. The new rules are also to apply to kindergartens.

Some schools are offering online instruction during this time, but the rules vary widely state to state.

Continued closures (in place since partial lockdown started on November 2nd)

Restaurants, bars, and cafes will remain closed except for delivery and pick-up services.

Cultural institutions such as museums and opera houses also remain closed for the time being.

Leisure facilities, including gyms, stay closed, along with personal care services such as tattoo shops and beauty salons.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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