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What are Germany’s ‘Emergency Brake’ Rules? When and where do they Apply?

Germany’s Infection Protection Act was just amended. Most of the country will be affected starting on Saturday, April 24th, 2021. These are the new rules.

Berlin, April 23rd, 2021. Update 6:53 p.m. CEDT (The Berlin Spectator) — It took Chancellor Angela Merkel four weeks to prepare her ’emergency brake’ law and push it through both the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Whether it will survive lawsuits at the Federal Constitutional Court that were already initiated remains to be seen.

The new rules apply from Saturday, April 24th, 2021, in counties or cities with Incidences above 100. At this moment, 84 percent of all counties in Germany are affected, or 345 out of 412 counties. Chances are, the following ’emergency brake’ rules do apply in your city or county:


Generally, people are not allowed to leave their homes between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m..

But there are exceptions. Those include getting medical help, going to the pharmacy in case of emergency, going to work, coming home from work, caring for people who cannot care for themselves, or caring for animals.

Between 10:00 p.m. and midnight, talking walks or going jogging alone is allowed.


People from one household may meet or gather with up to one person from one more household. This applies both indoors and outdoors.

There are exceptions:

> Children up to 14 years of age do not count.

> Spouses and life partners who live in different households are exempt in the sense that they count as people from one household.

> Individuals who care for their own children who live elsewhere, or who care for other persons who do not live in their household, are exempt.

> After the death of a family member, up to 15 persons may gather for a memorial ceremony.


People may enter non-essential shops with a fresh and negative Corona test only. They also need to make an appointment first.

If and once the Incidence exceeds 150, pre-ordered items may be picked up at the door to businesses, but nobody may enter them.

The following kinds of businesses remain open to everyone. No tests are required to enter:

Supermarkets, other food stores, beverage stores, pet food shops, pharmacies, drug stores, gas stations, shops for medical supplies, book stores, newspaper stands, gardening centers and book shops.

All shops have to allocate more room for each customer.


Restaurants and similar businesses may offer takeout food (deliveries or pickup) only.


“Proximal services” are forbidden, except for medial or therapeutic ones.

Hairdressers may open their businesses. Customers need to show a negative Corona test not older than 24 hours.


All cultures venues, including theaters, concert halls, clubs, cinemas (except for drive-in cinemas), exhibitions, museums and commemoration sites need to close.

The same applies to discotheques, swimming pools, saunas, wellness centers and brothels.


Hotels and similar businesses may not offer accommodations to tourists.


Traveling between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. is forbidden, no matter what means of transport it is. Deutsche Bahn will run trains at night, in order to keep the system up and running. But trips are generally forbidden at night, unless there is an emergency.


At Incidences of 165 or higher, all schools need to close and return to online classes.

Kindergartens need to close at 165 or above as well, but they may offer emergency care for children of doctors, nurses and police officers, in necessary, and children of single parents who need to work.


Enganging in “contact-free sports activities” alone, in pairs or with people from the same household is allowed.

Children up to 14 years of age may still do so in groups.


Employers have to provide Corona tests twice a week for their employees, unless they constantly work from home.

And they have to let them work from home wherever and whenever possible.

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