What exactly are Germany’s Christmas celebration rules?

What exactly are Germany's Christmas celebration rules?
A Christmas tree Bremen's Marktplatz on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
How are you allowed to celebrate Christmas in Germany under tight meeting rules? Here's what you should know.

What are the contact restrictions right now?

Until at least January 10th 2021, private meetings indoors and outdoors are only allowed with members of your own household and one other household, with a maximum of five people over the age of 14; younger children are exempt from the rule.

What's changing at Christmas?

For the period from December 24th to 26th, the government and states have agreed to allow a slight relaxation of this rule.

“Even in this special year, it should be possible for the Christmas days to be celebrated together. However, in view of the high incidence of infection, this will only be possible on a much smaller scale than usual,” said the German government and 16 states in a final decision paper.

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Here's what is allowed:

1. Your household can invite or gather with four people over the age of 14 during this time

2. Children under the age of 14 are not counted in the total number of people.

3. Only meetings within the closest family circle are allowed. However, because this is difficult to define formally, the politicians have specifically named various groups of people. They mention “spouses, partners and partners in a non-marital partnership as well as relatives in a straight line, siblings, siblings' children and their respective household members”.

4. The policy appeals to everyone to take a “protection week” before meetings. That means that people should cut down social contact as much as possible for five to seven days before celebrating with people.

Examples:

– So an older couple can celebrate with two adult children, their partners and all grandchildren under 14 (household plus four).

– Note the rule only extends to relatives in a “straight line”. An elderly couple with one adult child would therefore not be allowed to invite uncles and aunts in addition to their family (household plus two), even if the number of four adult guests is not reached.

– If the couple has three adult children with their own family (household plus six), one of the adult children would have to celebrate elsewhere.

 – The situation is different if one of the three children is older but still lives at home. Then it counts as part of the parents' household (household plus four).

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What happens if you are not celebrating with family?

Then the current rule applies: no more than two households in total can meet with a maximum of five people. Children under 14 are exempt from the rule.

Was this one of the topics thoroughly discussed?

Most likely. The examples show how difficult it was for Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders to find a solution for Christmas.

Not all sides are happy with the wording announced either. According to a transcript from the meeting participants, the point “does not make the intention sufficiently clear”, reported Spiegel.

Previously, the government and states were to allow a maximum of 10 people to meet from any number of households between December 23rd and 31st, but this does not apply anymore.

The paper also contains an important restriction: the Christmas rule only applies “depending on the respective infection situation” in the state.

Should the situation escalate further, individual state governments can switch to stricter contact restrictions during the holidays.

Can you travel to visit people?

Travel is not banned, but a further appeal is being made to the public to refrain from non-essential domestic and international travel. The quarantine rule for arrivals from foreign risk areas remains in place.

What about state differences?

As we said earlier, states can choose to enforce different rules depending on the Covid-19 situation.

Keep an eye on your local government decisions for any state differences.


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