IN PICTURES: How Germany is reopening more than six months after Covid shutdown

In many areas across Germany, facilities including outdoor terraces and swimming pools are opening after being closed to guests for months. Here's a look at what's happening.

IN PICTURES: How Germany is reopening more than six months after Covid shutdown
Berliner Rene sitting at a restaurant at the Gendarmenmarkt enjoying a beer on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

In the last few weeks, Germany has seen very encouraging news: Covid-19 cases have been falling significantly across the country, although regions are at different stages.

In places with stable Covid rates below 100 cases per 100,000 people, terraces in cafes, bars and restaurants have been opening their doors. Some districts and cities are also beginning to open outdoor swimming pools, while other areas are opening hotels.

There are still Covid restrictions in place – but it’s a huge step back to some kind of normality after Germany entered its now infamous ‘lockdown light’ at the start of November. The aim was to reopen businesses in December. But what followed was months of widespread lockdown measures and spiralling Covid cases.

READ ALSO: Germans return to pools and beer gardens after months of closure

What’s happening across Germany?

Friday was all go for Berlin. Here, a woman (below) is showing her vaccination pass to get into a terrace in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Konstantin und Katherina Romersch make a toast in the Gasthaus Großer Kiepenkerl in Münser on Friday. Hospitality facilities can open indoors in Münster from now on. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Thissen

Matthias Görtz and his wife Monika Görtz (below) on the garden terrace of the Schweizer Milchhäusch at the Bad Nauheim spa gardens for breakfast on Friday. Thanks to low infection figures, shops, restaurants and cafés in the Wetterau region in Hesse are once again allowed to serve customers. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

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In Berlin (and some other places) the swimming pools opened on Friday.

Swimming enthusiast Bettina (below) at the Schyrenbad outdoor pool in Munich after it opened on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Student Corinna jumps from the starting block into the pool at Schyrenbad, Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

A couple enjoys a drink in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday afternoon. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

READ ALSO: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining as bars and restaurants reopen

A group from the Ruhrgebiet at a camping site in Münster on Friday. Camping sites are allowed to open in areas with lower Covid rates in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Guido Kirchner

Matthias Kunze in Magdeburg (below) brings a latte to a table at the KlosterKaffee on May 20th after reopening. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

And this is what guests need to be served: a negative coronavirus test certificate (or proof of fully vaccination/recovery from Covid-19). This is shown at the table at the KosterKaffee in Magdeburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert
Markus, manager of the beach cocktail bar 112 in Düsseldorf, preparing on Thursday for the opening the following day. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcel Kusch

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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