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Germany: Government to Ease Corona Restrictions

In Berlin, yet another Corona conference is scheduled to take place today. The likely outcome is an easing of the contact restrictions, to some extent. Some businesses will be allowed to reopen.

Berlin, March 3rd, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) —
 According to a draft resolution the Chancellery and the governments in Germany’s federal states are discussing ahead of today’s Corona meeting, the contact restrictions will be eased. Up to five people from up to two households will be allowed to gather. Children under the age of 14 will not be counted, if the content of the document is implemented. The lockdown is supposed to be prolonged until March 28th.

Reopening with Caution

At this stage, persons from one household may meet up to one individual from another one. Children do count. Some federal states had included exceptions in their versions of the Corona rules. The goal had been to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus substantially. For a while, the strategy worked. Now, the numbers are increasing again.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will head the Corona conference, as usual, and her colleagues from the state capitals are under pressure. There are voices who insist on the reopening of all businesses right now, and there are virologists like Professor Christian Drosten of the Charité hospital in Berlin. He told the NDR radio and TV network, he understood why there were calls for easing restrictions, but it should happen with caution.

Sped Up Vaccinations

Drosten believes the share of the more contagious Coronavirus strain B.1.1.7 in Germany might be at 50 percent by now. He said the improving weather would not get rid of the problem. Christian Drosten also stated the speed of the ongoing vaccination campaign should be increased.

Mrs. Merkel also wants to give certain kinds of businesses the permission to reopen, including book shops, flower shops and gardening centers. In some federal states, these kinds of shops are open already. In regions with Incidence Numbers below 35, all retail businesses are supposed to have the right to reopen, according to the draft the Chancellor and the First Ministers were discussing ahead of today’s meeting.

Flying and Driving

All reopening businesses need to allocate 20 square meters of space (215 square feet) to each customer. Also they need to have a “hygiene concept” or they may not resume their business. Driving and flying schools are supposed to reopen soon as well. In these cases, teachers and students might need Corona tests conducted the same day, with negative results.

All relevant Corona numbers for Germany, and daily Corona updates, can be found in our Corona chronology.

Museums, galleries, zoos, botanical gardens and memorial sites are supposed to open in counties with low Incidence Numbers. In Berlin, both zoos have been open all along. Once the Incidence is below 35, up to ten people may engage in sports activities together, the draft resolution says.

‘Emergency Brake’ Included

Chancellor Merkel and some of her colleagues want to include an “emergency brake” in the new Corona rules. Once the Incidence Numbers increase and reach a certain level again, today’s strict rules are supposed to kick in again, meaning it all depends on the numbers. Today, the Robert Koch Institute reported 9,019 new infections within 24 hours. Those are about 1,000 more than last Wednesday.

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