Is Germany set to reopen public life earlier than planned?

Is Germany set to reopen public life earlier than planned?
Chairs outside of a closed cafe in Hanover's old town in January. Photo: DPA
In yet another proposal, the German government has suggested relaxing current restrictions in regions where the Covid-19 incidence is stable below a 7-day incidence of 100 cases per 100,000 residents. Here’s what could reopen again - and how.

Previously, Merkel had envisaged reopenings only taking place in regions with a 7-day incidence below 35 – that means a maximum of 35 new coronavirus infections per 100,000 residents within a week. 

Yet according to a revised draft document viewed by DPA on Wednesday morning, there could now be restricted openings even in regions where the number of Covid-19 infections falls below the 100 mark. 

Merkel and state premieres were set to discuss the proposed draft Wednesday at 2pm. Germany currently has a 7-day-incidence of around 64, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Merkel faces mounting pressure to relax Germany’s Germany’s Covid-19 shutdown

What could reopen again?

According to the draft there could be restricted retail openings with fixed shopping dates. Museums, galleries, zoos and botanical gardens could also then be opened “for visitors with prior appointment booking”.

Likewise, “individual sports alone or in pairs and sports in groups of up to 10 children up to 14 years of age in outdoor areas” could be permitted again.

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Furthermore outdoor catering may reopen soon under strict conditions – yet this would not be until the end of March or beginning of April. The prerequisite is that an incidence of less than 100 is achieved for two weeks. 

But if people from multiple households sit at a table, “a daily COVID-19 rapid or self-test of table patrons is required,” according to the draft resolution.

The same applies to opening theatres, concert halls, opera houses, and movie theaters, indoor non-contact sports, and outdoor contact sports.

Would there be other openings?

The draft resolution specified that more aspects of public life could reopen in regions with a stable or declining infection rate.

“If a stable or declining 7-day incidence of less than 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants is achieved in the state or region, the respective state may provide for the following further openings accordingly on a statewide or regional basis,” the draft resolution states. 

In addition, the updated version now includes a further opening step: if another two weeks after the previous relaxations the incidence remains stable below 35, outdoor recreational events with up to 50 participants are to be allowed, as well as indoor contact sports. 

READ ALSO: German government proposes easing some Covid-19 measures from Monday

According to the new draft, the planned “emergency brake” would also apply from the 100 mark: if the 7-day incidence in a region exceeds 100 again for three consecutive days, the opening steps would be rolled back, meaning the current lockdown conditions would apply again, according to the paper.

Since November, Germany has had a shutdown which has progressively seen the majority of public life, including restaurants, retail and cultural institutions close. 

On Monday, hairdressers opened across the country, as well as flower and DIY stores in some states. Schools and Kitas have also been opening up around the country again since late February.


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