The lockdown in Germany has been extended until March 28 - in principle. At the same time, a phased plan for relaxations comes into effect, and vaccination and testing tactics are also being pushed. The decisions of the federal and state governments at a glance are below.
The lockdown in Germany to contain the Corona pandemic will be extended by three weeks until March 28. Because the federal government and the states agreed on Wednesday evening in a nearly nine-hour video conference at the same time a step-by-step plan towards opening.
According to the decision, this is made possible by two factors: "The increasing amount of vaccine and the availability of rapid and self-tests in very large quantities." The federal-state compromise describes the further development of the incidence of infection, as measured by the incidence values 50 and 100, as decisive for the question of whether and when relaxations should be possible.
Contacts and emergency brake
As of March 8, a maximum of five people from two households are allowed to meet privately, not counting children up to age 14. New: "Couples count as one household." In regions with fewer than 35 new infections per week per 100,000 population, this can be expanded to three households with a combined maximum of ten people.
If the number of new infections rises above 100 for three consecutive days within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence), contacts are again limited to one household and one additional person. This "emergency brake" would also apply to other opening steps.
After initial openings in the school sector and for hairdressers (stage 1), flower stores, DIY stores and garden centers will be allowed to reopen their doors nationwide subject to hygiene requirements and customer number limits - something that is already possible in Bavaria and some other German states.
The same now applies to bookstores. Providers of "body-related services" and driving and flying schools are also allowed to reopen; in some cases, daily quick or self-tests for customers and a testing concept for staff are prescribed there. (Stage 2)
March 8 at the earliest:
Further opening steps are made dependent on the course of infection. Accordingly, the Länder could regionally open retail outlets, museums, galleries, zoos and memorials with conditions if the seven-day incidence is below 50; non-contact sports in outdoor areas would also be permitted (stage 3). For incidence levels between 50 and 100, these areas would open with restrictions: In retail, for example, only appointment shopping would be allowed. Customers would have to book an appointment in advance. Something similar would apply to museums. If the seven-day incidence rises above 100, the emergency brake kicks in with a return to lockdown rules.
March 22 at the earliest:
Stage 4 requires that the seven-day incidence in the state or region has not worsened for two weeks after the third opening step.
If the incidence is below 50, outdoor restaurants, theaters, concert halls, opera houses and movie theaters may reopen. Non-contact indoor sports and contact outdoor sports will also be allowed.
With an incidence between 50 and 100, outdoor dining could be allowed only with appointment booking. Daily quick or self-tests would be required for theaters, movie theaters, and the like. If incidence exceeds 100, the emergency brake kicks in again.
April 5 at the earliest:
Stage 5 again requires at least a stable seven-day incidence for two weeks since the fourth opening step - so, mathematically, the earliest would be April 5. With less than 50 new infections, outdoor recreational events with up to 50 participants and indoor contact sports could be allowed. At this advanced stage in time, retail stores would be allowed to open even if the incidence is between 50 and 100, under the same conditions as in the third stage when the incidence is below 50. If the incidence rises above 100, the emergency brake will apply again.
This is how high the 7-day incidence currently is in Bavaria's rural districts
Free rapid tests
In principle, all citizens are to be entitled to regular rapid tests in the future. According to the resolution, staff and children in daycare centers and schools are to be tested at least once a week when they are on site. The same applies to employees who are not in their home offices, although companies are to bear the costs here. In addition, every citizen is to be able to be tested once a week in places set up or approved for this purpose. The testing strategy is to be implemented gradually by the beginning of April. The costs for the one test per week will be borne by the federal government from next week.
By April at the latest, general practitioners and specialists are also to administer Corona vaccinations. This is intended to increase the number of vaccinations against the background that more doses will then be available than can be administered in the vaccination centers. However, the vaccination centers will continue to exist and, according to the resolution, will also continue to comply with prioritization in vaccinations. Practices are also to follow suit, but physicians are allowed more flexibility.
The appeal to home offices continues. The ordinance requiring businesses to allow home offices if the job permits is to be extended through April 30.
The hardship fund promised by the federal government as early as mid-February is finally to come. Until now, this failed because the states did not want to co-finance the fund. The resolution now agrees that the federal government and the states will share the financing. Entrepreneurs such as showmen who are unable to meet the application requirements for previous assistance are to benefit from the subsidy. Details are to be clarified by next week. Originally, there was talk of a volume of two billion euros. There will also be more money for hospitals: They will also receive compensation for corona-related revenue losses for 2021. Depending on the development of school openings, a decision is to be made on "further children's sick pay days".
Openings in the hospitality, culture, events, travel and hotel sectors are to be discussed in the next round on March 22. Citizens will continue to be called upon to "refrain from non-mandatory travel within the country and also abroad."
Image by Gerd Altmann