When the federal government's stricter infection control law goes into effect on Saturday, new restrictions will apply in the retail sector - even in stores for everyday needs such as supermarkets. According to the new law, stores with less than 800 square meters of floor space may only let in a maximum of 40 customers at a time.
The new rule, passed by the Bundestag and Bundesrat, stipulates that smaller stores may only have one customer per 20 square meters of selling space. If the sales area is larger than 800 square meters, each customer is allowed 40 square meters. The rule is thus even stricter in terms of the customer/area ratio, but no upper limit has been formulated.
The rules previously in force in Berlin were less strict. They stipulated that in stores of less than 800 square meters, one customer was allowed to be greeted for every ten square meters; above 800 square meters, the rule of 20 square meters per customer applied. In accordance with federal law, in the future only half as many customers will be allowed into stores as before. There is a threat of queues - at least at peak times.
The tightening of the law also contains bad news for tobacco and stationery stores. They no longer appear on the list of exceptions for stores that are allowed to open "normally" even above an incidence of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week. Thus, as of today, Saturday, they must require negative tests and an appointment of their customers. This news may come as a surprise to many store owners.
For bicycle dealers and repair shops, on the other hand, nothing is to change, at least initially. According to a comparison of old and new rules by the Senate Chancellery, services are not explicitly covered in the explanatory memorandum to the law. Therefore, these stores may continue to open.
The rules for Berlin schools were specified on Friday by a spokesman for the education administration. Accordingly, schools must close as soon as the incidence values issued by the Robert Koch Institute exceed the mark of 165 for three consecutive days. If this is the case, the schools have "until the day after next" to implement the requirements - i.e. the closure.
Senate circles said Friday that a closure of schools or a return to classes from home should not be implemented from one day to the next, but if possible at the start of the following week of classes. However, weekends also fall under the three-day rule. On Friday, the seven-day incidence was 135, according to the RKI, so the Education Administration and the Senate Chancellery were optimistic that school closures would not have to be imposed for the time being. Schools may not be reopened until the level falls below 165 for five consecutive days