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Germany's first relaxation of the corona measures

Germany’s first relaxation of the corona measures. This was information was taken from a Südwest Press (SWP.de) article.

School operations are to be gradually restarted from 4 May onwards, starting with:
• The graduation classes
• The classes that will take the exams in the coming year
• The upper elementary school classes
Kindergartens remain closed
Bavaria wants to start later

Shops with a sales area of up to 800 square meters may reopen from Monday under certain conditions. Regardless of size, book, car and bicycle dealers will be allowed to open. All shops will be subject to requirements regarding hygiene, access control and the avoidance of queues.
Hairdressing businesses should also prepare to resume operations as of May 4.

The contact restrictions now apply for the time being until 3 May 2020. The distance rules are also to remain in place. Accordingly, a distance of 1.5 meters must be maintained in public. Citizens are only allowed to be in public in the circle of relatives or with another person not living in the household. In addition, private travel and visits should continue to be avoided.

Festivals and major events still prohibited until 31 August 2020

Major events remain prohibited until at least 31 August 2020. Among others, the following are affected by the ban:
• Football matches in front of a large audience
• Larger concerts and festivals
• Shooting festivals
• Fairground events.

Ban on assembly in churches, mosques and other places of worship remains in force. There will be discussions concerning this however.

Tourist overnight stays in hotels are still not allowed, and catering establishments must remain closed until further notice. Excluded is the delivery and collection of food for consumption at home.

Bars, clubs, discotheques, pubs as well as theatres, operas and concert halls are also still closed. Chancellor Merkel defended the decision: In restaurants the minimum distance to other people cannot be controlled. In two weeks, she said, one would know the effect of the new relaxation - then one could think about further steps.

German border controls extended until 4 May due to Corona. This affects travel to and from Austria, France, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland. The restriction also applies to air travelers from Italy and Spain. Since mid-March, anyone who is neither a German citizen nor a foreigner living permanently in Germany has only been allowed to enter the country for a "good reason" - for example, as a commuter. In addition, all persons entering Germany are subject to a 14-day quarantine obligation.

There is no general mask obligation; however, wearing of so-called everyday masks is "strongly recommended" when shopping and on public transport.

Hopes are fading that a Corona warning app for smartphones will be available this week. Chancellor Merkel said that this is being worked on at full speed. "It must first be approved by the Robert Koch Institute, the Federal Office for Information Security, and of course the Data Protection Commissioner." There it is examined whether individual components of the app are susceptible. It has to be ensured that the app can be used on different smartphones. To do this, one would have to be in contact with the manufacturers of the operating systems.

Next Corona Conference to be held on April 30. Chancellor Merkel announced that the conference with the prime ministers of the federal states would now take place every 14 days, with the next meeting scheduled for 30 April 2020. Then it is to be agreed on how to proceed for Germany in the Corona crisis.

Posted by
3977 posts

How can you possibly keep 1.5m apart in a hairdressers?

Luckily, Germany hasn’t been as badly affected as many parts of Europe. It will be interesting to see how all countries emerge from this situation.

Posted by
2486 posts

mchpp Thanks for the clear update. We wish you all the best in seeing the other side of this pandemic event. I hadn’t heard about the app development. With Germany’s strict privacy laws this would be a very different technology to introduce if my husband explained it correctly to me.

Also, Jennifer, I’ve been strategizing about how hairdressers could operate during this time and I can envision a plastic/rubber shield to put your head through to have your hair cut. “Desperate” times call for desperate measures. Of course there would be proper distancing in the salon and everyone would wear masks and single use gloves. I think it could be done.

Posted by
349 posts

"How can you possibly keep 1.5m apart in a hairdressers?"

My guess is robots. I'm sure there'll be little oopsies here and there -- some screaming and the occasional spray of arterial blood -- but nothing soundproofing and sawdust can't fix.

I, for one, welcome our hairdresser robot overlords!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
1555 posts

Then it is to be agreed on how to proceed for Germany in the Corona crisis.

"How to proceed"; well, let's hope so. But according to the chief researcher of the Helmholtz Center of Epidemiology in Braunschweig, we might even have to go a step back if the loosening of the rules causes a flare-up of the epidemic.

Posted by
605 posts

Markus Söder Minister President of Bavaria announced Bavaria will slowly resume operations from April 27, and shops up to 800 square meters are allowed to open under conditions. The Free State will relax the anti-corona measures in small steps. As of next Monday, contact with a person outside the household is also permitted outdoors. This change has Bavaria moving into line with the nationwide predominant line. School operations are to restart very slowly. Starting April 27, graduating classes at Gymnasien, Real- und Mittelschule (schools) will be the first to be allowed to return to schools, as well as Meisterklassen. From 11 May at the earliest, the classes that will graduate next year will follow at these schools, such as the current eleventh graders at Gymnasien schools and the current ninth graders at Realschulen schools. People in Bavaria are to wear protective masks over their mouth and nose in shops and on public transportation. There is discussion of making masks mandatory and whether German Soccer Leagues might begin "Ghost Matches" without spectators. Basically Bavaria will follow a week later than what was announced yesterday by Chancellor Merkel. Schools in some instances earlier.

Posted by
5019 posts

Thanks for the update. Good to hear, and I wish them luck.

I don't see much there about testing. What I am hearing recently from folks that seem to know what they're talking about (in Fauci We Trust), a critical prerequisite before relaxing the current measures is having widespread (and reliable) testing available - testing that can quickly (ideally, in minutes) identify one's infection status. There are a lot of issues with testing AFAICT - eg if you've had COVID and recovered, you should have some antibodies as a telltale sign, which is probably a good thing, but we still don't know to what extent those antibodies actually protect you from getting the virus again, and if there is such protection, how long it lasts. Without widespread, reliable testing (and knowing how to interpret the test results), there's concern that you're just taking a leap of faith and flying blind

Lets all hope that they don't get a second wave of disease spread once they start loosening the current restrictions (as has apparently happened elsewhere).

Posted by
4947 posts

mchpp, what is the discussion and expectation going on in Germany, as far as the longer-term economic impact on the hotel/restaurant business, and on the economy in general. I am assuming that the same kind of economic measures are taking place there as here in the US.

Posted by
6748 posts

Germany has had an active testing program in place from the get-go. That and actively checking on Covid-positive patients isolated at home have contributed to the lower death rate, it’s speculated. (NYTimes article).

Posted by
24 posts

About the role of economics in the current German discourse, I would say that it is fairly complex. In yesterday's press conference, Markus Söder had a moment of talking about the economy, where he said that everyone recognises that the twin challenges of the corona pandemic are health and economy. But he also said that proceeding slowly from here brings the greatest success, not just in public health, but also in the economy-- with the implication that the latter is not be stable without the former.

With respect to the hotel/restaurant/tourism sector, it seems clear that much of Germany's early infections and main coronavirus clusters were caused by some several social events involving large gatherings in tourist locations and restaurants (ski resorts in Austria; the Karneval celebrations in Heisberg; the Starkbier festival in Tirschenreuth), and so this makes many quite nervous about locations where large groups assemble in close contact. This nervousness makes it seem likely that there will be prolonged constraints on such events, with the resulting economic consequences for the tourism and gastronomy sectors.

Regarding concrete economic measures taken here in general: I think some are fairly different than those in the US in execution, although similar in intent. After all, the German employment sector is organised differently than that of the US, so for example, gig workers represent a smaller percentage of the workforce. There has been a much lower spike of unemployment here than in the United States, largely because the Kurzarbeit system incentivises employers to retain their employees here. But, just like unemployment money in the US, Kurzarbeit has to be funded, and is very expensive, so of course this will have many consequences. There is no un-targeted direct payment project, as with the US stimulus checks. There is, however, a similar system of funding supports for small businesses and freelancers in the two countries (although I do not know if freelancers are included in the US plan). The biggest difference as I understand it is that these small business loans in the US are being processed by a very large number of private banks, whereas there is more reliance in Germany on the state development bank, which has some benefits in terms of transparency and speed. Nevertheless, of course small businesses are suffering tremendously. When I went grocery shopping today, I walked by my neighbourhood tailor and cleaning shop, which had a sign in the window advertising the sale of homemade masks, and saying essentially that it would be a helpful gesture of solidarity if community members could purchase from them, as they are in dire financial troubles. I am also a member of a sport association, which has generously offered to return our monthly contribution if we wish, but which has appealed on us to continue to pay if our income has not been affected, as it will be difficult for them to survive and reopen if they will lose all members at this time.

Posted by
908 posts

Below is a video where Angela Merkel explains coronavirus. Compare this to when Boris or Trump speak about it. Germany seems to be using science rather than gut instinct to guide when to open.

https://youtu.be/22SQVZ4CeXA

Posted by
605 posts

Stan, from my corner of the Oberpfalz it's guesswork on the longer-term economic impact the coronavirus will have on the economy. Obviously there is concern. The coronavirus is hitting the tourism industry hard. They are affected like no other industry and the situation is getting worse every day. Sales/income are approaching zero, while operating costs continue to rise for the most part. A survey conducted by Der Bundesverband der Deutschen Tourismuswirtschaft (BTW) at the beginning of April resulted in 91 percent of companies in the hospitality industry and 82 percent in the travel industry complaining of a complete standstill of all business activities (no surprise with mandatory closures). In the overall economy the figure was reported as 43 percent. The Bavarian state government and the German government have set up emergency aid programmes for companies and freelancers, with grants and loans. The emergency aid is graduated according to the number of employees. The dovetailing of the two government programs enables higher payments to be made for all sizes of companies covered. There is concern that many small businesses will run out of cash before the government payments kick in. Beginning April 20 the program will be extended to more businesses, at least in Bavaria. Save - Stabilize - Invest. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder has recommended that citizens plan a summer holiday in Germany, so that is optimistic at least. Locally the small butcher shop, bakeries and grocery stores don't seem to be impacted too much. We have patronized a few of our favorite restaurants for take out and with generous tips, just to help support them and keep them in business.

Posted by
1092 posts

Below is a video where Angela Merkel explains coronavirus. Compare
this to when Boris or Trump speak about it. Germany seems to be using
science rather than gut instinct to guide when to open.
https://youtu.be/22SQVZ4CeXA

Having a scientist as a leader of the country certainly has its advantages.

Posted by
605 posts

Beautiful Spring day today in the Oberpfalz. We rode our E-bikes along the Naab River flood canal for 5 miles to a local Hofladen (Farm) for the first Spargel harvest. We bought a pound of fresh Spargel and some potatoes there. In the afternoon we went to the local Metzger for 200 grams of fresh sliced Prager Ham. Dinner was steamed Spargel with boiled potatoes, fried ham and melted butter. We washed it down with a gold medal Weißburgunder from our favorite Winzer in the Main-Franken Wein region. It was great. Afterwards we had some old Gouda, Pecorino and Swiss Emmentaler for dessert. Of course we kept our social distance at the stores per the curfew, and made way while bike riding. Many people were wearing masks today. All is not doom and gloom. I hope to be able to make our annual trip to the Main-Franken Wein region this Spring to taste and buy more wine, and would love to spend the night and have dinner restrictions allowing. Wish you could be here and hope all is well where you are. I (OP) meant this post to be informing of the current coronavirus restrictions in Germany with future travel in mind and discussions thereby. Never intended it to become a debate concerning the coronavirus restrictions in Germany Pro and Con or anywhere else. I'd prefer it stay on topic.

Posted by
74 posts

MCHPP - that sounds like a terrific day! I don't post very often but wanted to say thank you for making this thread. Wish you well.

Posted by
1555 posts

gold medal Weißburgunder from our favorite Winzer in the Main-Franken Wein region

Hmmm ... maybe you could give his name?

Posted by
605 posts

The Winzer is Keßler in Prichsenstadt. We have bought wine there for 12 years straight now. They do deliver, but maybe no tasting this year? The daughter is the primary winemaker now. She has a list of achievements and firsts for women winemakers in the Franken Wine Region. She was recently named best female winemaker from Franconia and 8th place in the national comparison by Weinmagazin selection. https://www.frankenwein-aktuell.de/weinmagazin-selection-kuerte-beste-silvaner-weingueter-und-winzerinnen-des-jahre_aktuelles_detail_2767_kkdetail_view_blog.html?view_blog_vt=Ina%20Ke%C3%9Fler

As I'm thinking of Prichsenstadt there was always a large number of Romanians that moved into the area this time of year to harvest Spargel, and later strawberries, raspberries and other fruit and vegetables. I wonder if they were allowed into Germany this year, or if they even wanted to come? Another economic impact.

Sad to think of all the Wein Festivals and other Fest that will most likely be cancelled this Spring, or have already been cancelled through 31 August 2020. Weinfest Prichsenstadt was scheduled for 12-15 June. Maybe Fall will be filled with rescheduled Fest!
https://www.fraenkischer-weinfestkalender.de/weinfeste/Wegen-Corona-Diese-Weinfeste-in-Franken-wurden-2020-verschoben-oder-abgesagt;art18,1790500

Posted by
1555 posts

Thanks a lot, mchpp! I have just seen that Keßler currently delivers carriage free from a minimum order of twelve bottles, a good opportunity for a test. At my local asparagus farmer, the Romanian and Polish harvest helpers have arrived, albeit with a week's delay. The Polish woman, who is runnig "my" asparagus stall every year and speaks German surprisingly well, told me that the government has lifted the entry ban at last minute. If they had not, it would indeed have been the end for many farmers.

Posted by
1261 posts

This has been a most interesting thread about a challenging subject. I wish the American Press would focus less on the horrific loss of life in Spain and Italy, and more on how Germany has kept the loss of life relatively low. Our biggest challenges have been in densely populated areas, especially along the East Coast. I wonder how the Ruhr Valley with its population concentration is handling the virus.

Posted by
42 posts

Just read an article about cancelling Oktoberfest for 2020. That would be a major move if that happened.

Posted by
7640 posts

All of the summer festivals in Frankfurt have been canceled, up until 31 Aug.
At least 40,000 people in Germany have signed up to go help farmers with the asparagus and strawberry harvest. Either with the harvest, cleaning, or selling. Is there any kind of movement like this in the US to help the farmers?

Smaller stores can open this Monday, so that will be interesting, and masks are required, and hair salons on 4 May. They will have a booming business.
Grocery stores have everything, so there are no food shortages. Farmers' markets have continued to stay open and they make deliveries too, which is nice for those who can't get out.

Posted by
52 posts

Hi

I am supposed to be in Germany and Austria from June 13 to July 5th. What are the chances of the borders being open? I get that there will be restrictions? Like ordering take out and bringing it back. I am staying in timeshares and have full kitchen. I am the type of person that likes to explore and take the train to see different things.

Right now, my flight is not canceled into London. I have a separate flight to Germany. Does it look hopefully?

Posted by
1304 posts

I wish the American Press would focus less on the horrific loss of
life in Spain and Italy, and more on how Germany has kept the loss of
life relatively low.

I'm not sure what coverage you have been listening to. This isn't magic. Germans aren't "special." The New York Times ran an in depth article about this two weeks ago. Reasons identified included:

  • early and widespread testing including of not sick people

  • extensive contact tracing of sick and suspected sick

  • plenty of intensive care beds. In January, Germany had some 28,000 intensive care beds equipped with ventilators, or 34 per 100,000 people. By comparison, that rate is 12 in Italy and 7 in the Netherlands. Now, there are 40,000 intensive care beds available in Germany.

  • a trusted government whose social distancing guidelines are widely observed: "Ms. Merkel, a trained scientist, has communicated clearly, calmly and regularly throughout the crisis, as she imposed ever-stricter social distancing measures on the country. The restrictions, which have been crucial to slowing the spread of the pandemic, met with little political opposition and are broadly followed."

The media I have been reading and watching have been harping on all those things, especially the last one, since mid March. So when you are a country, and I am not naming names, that is saying and doing the opposite of those things, things don't go well.

Posted by
605 posts

There is a lot of good information here from the German Federal Foreign Office regarding travel and many useful links. From what I can tell non-essential travel to the EU is restricted with some exemptions currently through 15 May 2020. I did not find a reference to the next review.

Coronavirus and entry restrictions: 5 things travelers to Germany need to know: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/einreiseundaufenthalt/coronavirus

German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community - Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions:
https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.html#doc13797140bodyText3

There still is a 14 day isolation requirement: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Transport/Anordnung_BMG_08_04_2020_Anlage_en.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

Posted by
734 posts

Things have gone well in Sweden!

How are you defining "gone well"?

Posted by
7640 posts

That is what I thought too, Eric. The numbers say something entirely different.

Posted by
605 posts

There is a "Rick Steves" Sweden Forum. Maybe better to conduct discussions concerning Sweden there and not here in the German Forum.

Posted by
605 posts

In a statement today, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder announced starting Monday 27 April masks will become compulsory in Bavaria. It will apply in shops and on public transport, to include shops open now and those allowed to open beginning next week. All types of masks and scarves are allowed as mouthguards.

Posted by
605 posts

At a press conference today 09:00 am (L), Bavaria's Chancellor Söder and Munich's Mayor Reiter announced that the Oktoberfest 2020 is cancelled due to the corona epidemic.

Posted by
605 posts

Bavaria is opening up more internally. Families can meet beginning 6 May and you can also leave the house without good reason. Restaurants can open beginning 18 May with restricted hours and hotels 30 May. The 1.5m social distancing and wearing masks still apply. There are other relaxed rules for schools and visiting nursing homes. The German travel ban remains through 14 June currently.

Posted by
62 posts

If there is a surge in cases again after this relaxation of restrictions Germany could be back to stage one, I hope that arent moving too fastly

Posted by
605 posts

Germany is monitoring the infection rate/death rate to the population. I saw something to the affect of 1.2 the German healthcare system can handle the situation until October. 1.6 only until July. This Monday will mark a two weeks since smaller shops were allowed to open and masks/mouth covering became mandatory. I expect with an increase in the percentage more controls will return.

Posted by
326 posts

So it looks like the Bundesliga will start back up again on May 16th, without spectators, but a nice psychological boost for millions of soccer starved fans out there, both in Germany and elsewhere.

Posted by
605 posts

Rain and storms this afternoon. Restaurants were allowed to open for service outside in Bavaria today, but with this weather maybe only a hour or two before noon. Snow showers forecast for tonight! There was a protest of a hundred or so folks against the restrictions Sunday here in Weiden. The recent outbreaks seem to be more concentrated outside Bavaria in the northwest. We'll see if restrictions come back.
https://www.onetz.de/deutschland-welt/weiden-oberpfalz/viele-corona-faelle-corona-tote-bayern-id2990632.html

Posted by
605 posts

Germany to Gradually Reopen All Internal Borders Until June 15 (13 May).
https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/germany-to-gradually-reopen-all-internal-borders-until-june-15/

If you haven't heard about the EU "Europe Needs a Break" you should look at some of the articles especially in regards to tourists from the US. Reopening Europe will be based on risk assessment, and Countries deemed risky will continue to have restrictions against tourism.

Posted by
62 posts

Hopefully Germany will be able to continue to relax restrictions and not have to go back in stages as the infection rate is increasing, I suppose that is inevitable though and something countries will simply have to accept

Posted by
605 posts

Europe and Schwengen Countries are working on lifting restrictions within the borders and neighboring Countries. Germany's goal is all direct/touching borders open no latter than 15 June 2020. The EU recognizes the "Europe Needs a Break" primarily in vacations for EU residents and opening the tourist industry for Summer Holidays within the EU and regions are possible. There will be restrictions like social distancing and masks. I guess what I am trying to point out is US travel to Germany is not in this equation. I'm not sure tourist travel from the US to Germany will be possible this summer.

Posted by
605 posts

Well today we went to a Zoigl Biergarten for German Fathers Day. Outside service was allowed beginning Monday this week in Bayern. The long folding Bierbank type Fest tables were well spread out. There was a sign-in sheet at each table for name, telephone number, time in and time out. Only four people cold sit at each table, two at each end (other than Family Groups). Masks were required to go to the bathroom, and only one person at a time. Lots of soap and hand sanitizer was there. When the Bier/food/drinks came to the table you had to take it off the tray yourself. All the servers had masks on as required. An additional employee kept an eye on everything. I did not observe a limit on alcohol, but we were there at noonish. Closing time is mandated at 20:00 per the coronavirus restrictions. The tables were well wiped down when anyone left. It was a beautiful 23C sunny day with Bayerisches Himmel and and the Kastanienbaum are blooming. We rode our E-Bikes there and there were a lot of folks walking and riding in the fine weather during this holiday. Over 60 days since we were last at a Stuben/restaurant other than take-out for drinks and food. Hopefully we didn't bring anything back with us. German news said if you wanted to get into a Bier Garten in München today you had to wait 50-60 minutes!

Posted by
7640 posts

I sat out in the Paulsplatz today in Frankfurt and ate a Spaghetti Eis. First one of the season. Monday, sat at a small table outside and had a burger, but you could also sit inside. In Hessen, they are supposed to be 5 sq m. between tables.

Posted by
1261 posts

"I sat out in the Paulsplatz today in Frankfurt and ate a Spaghetti Eis."

Jo, This is really hard on my wife. Our planned first stop in April was to begin in Regensburg where we know an Eis Cafe that operates all winter. Spaghetti Eis is her favorite. Gary

Posted by
605 posts

We went to one of our favorite Gaststätte today for Sunday Mittagessen. Monday was the first day eating inside was permitted at restaurants in Bavaria. You had to have reservations. The menu was paper; however it was back to normal and not the abbreviated takeout menu of the last weeks. Servers wore masks and customers are required to wear masks when not sitting at a table, to and from the bathroom and you couldn't use the coat rack. You have to sign-in on a roster with name and telephone number. Hand sanitizer was available. Tables were spaced out and overall the Gaststätte was only about 1/3 full, compared to the pre-coronavirus days when it would be full. This was our first sit-in restaurant meal since mid March and it felt like we were in a 5 star hotel. I had a "Münchner" Cordon bleu filled with Obazda and Speck and the Frau had Rinderbraten mit Pfifferlingen. Some feelings of getting back to normal. We are thinking of trying a 2-3 overnight trip in Germany in the next few weeks. Surfing webcams yesterday I felt it was a little ironic that people are skiing in Kaprun Austria high on the Kitzsteinhorn again (beginning Saturday). We had to cut our stay in Fusch short mid March because of coronavirus restrictions.