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ANGELA MERKEL

German lockdown measures could last ‘until the end of May or mid-June’

Germany may be facing a much longer shutdown, as new federal measures could last until the end of May or middle of June, reported Berlin’s Tagesspiegel on Monday.

German lockdown measures could last 'until the end of May or mid-June'
A closed restaurant in Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate, on April 1st. A curfew is in place in the city. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun (CDU) made it clear in a meeting with Germany’s 16 states on Sunday that the federal government could extend and strengthen current lockdown measures until the end of May or mid-June, according to the Tagesspiegel.

The move comes as part of a planned update to the Infection Protection Act, which aims to grant the federal government more control over regulations which previously were decided and enforced by the states.

READ ALSO: Germany to tighten national coronavirus law in bid to ‘create uniform rules’

According to a draft revision to the law, stricter measures would be put in place when there’s a 7-day incidence of over 100 new infections per 100,000 residents lasting for over three days, as well as automatically for a 7-day incidence of over 200. 

Based on the current infection rate around Germany, the government expects these measures to last several more weeks. The current shutdown, as decided on by Merkel and state leaders, was extended until April 18th at the last summit.

LATEST: Covid-19 infections in Germany rise above 3 million

What might the new measures look like?

If there’s a three-day long 7-day incidence of over 100, private gatherings would be restricted, there would be a nighttime curfew, and all businesses (with the exception of essential shops or businesses such as grocery stores) and cultural and recreational facilities would have to close again. Restaurants would remain closed except for take-out and delivery.

If the 7-day incidence rises above 200, schools and Kitas (daycare centres) would automatically be closed under the draft. State and local governments would no longer have any discretionary leeway.

READ ALSO: These are the new powers that Merkel plans to acquire in battle against pandemic

About half of all rural and urban districts in Germany currently have 7-day incidences over 100.

Since the measures would be decreed by law and not by ordinance, anyone who wants to challenge the decisions in court would only be able to do so through the Federal Constitutional Court. 

Several states have already argued that other criteria should be used in addition to the 7-day incidence value. 

In addition, there are calls not to close stores completely, but to allow “click and collect,” for example, a system which would allow people to shop by appointment only.

This is what the new draft measures in the Infection Protection Act specify:

  • Hard, regional lockdown if the 7-day incidence threshold of 100 is exceeded for three days
  • Private gatherings will be limited to members of a household and one other person
  • Curfews from 9pm to 5am, with exceptions for emergencies or work-related reasons
  • Sports will be very limited, with a maximum of two people
  • All businesses must also close – with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, drugstores and gas stations.
  • Cultural and leisure facilities such as zoos, swimming pools, museums, etc. will also have to close
  • The catering trade will remain closed. Pick-up and delivery of food is allowed, however
  • If the incidence level is below the level of 100 again for three days, the measures can be waived. If it is above that for three days, they come back into effect
  • Schools and daycare centers may remain open only if the incidence is below 200. Even then, students may only attend classes if they test twice a week

OPINION: Germany has never had a real Covid lockdown

The government is aiming to rush the law change through the Bundestag this week so it’s not set in stone at this stage.

Member comments

  1. If only they’d put as much energy in organising vaccinations as they do in deciding how to restrict us even more – we’d all be vaccinated by now.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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