Berlin After many hours debate, the federal and state governments reached an agreement on Tuesday morning on how to proceed with the pandemic. The lockdown will be extended and even stricter rules will apply around Easter. The decisions at a glance.
Coronavirus infection figures are climbing. In their new resolutions early on Tuesday morning, the federal and state governments warn against overloading the health system in April. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the state premiers urge citizens to "limit all contact to the absolute minimum and in particular avoid indoor gatherings“.
As long as no deviating regulations have been adopted, the previous guidelines will continue to apply. New regulations are to be adopted by the Laender in their ordinances by 29 March; they will apply until 18 April for the time being.
EMERGENCY BRAKE: The federal government and the Länder emphasise that it is necessary to apply consistently the "emergency brake" agreed upon at the beginning of March. It is to take effect if the 7-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants in a country or region exceeds 100 new infections on three consecutive days. Then, as of the second following working day, the restrictions that were in force until 7 March will apply again. There will only be further openings if the 7-day incidence is below 100 and stable or declining. NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet announced that the state would "implement the emergency brake one-to-one".
INCIDENCE ABOVE 100: In districts where the 7-day incidence is above 100, tougher measures take effect. These can look like this:
- Mandatory wearing of better protective masks in cars for passengers who are not part of the driver's household.
- Extending mandatory rapid testing to areas where distance rules and consistent mask wearing are difficult
- exit restrictions
- tighter contact restrictions
CONTACTS: A maximum of five people from two households are allowed to meet. Couples should generally count as one household. Children up to 14 years of age count extra.
According to the current decision, this also applies to the Easter period from 1 to 5 April. The emergency brake, which continues to apply, is not mentioned in this section. This provides for regions or federal states with a 7-day incidence of over 100: Only one household and one other person are allowed to meet, again excluding children up to 14 years.
EASTER: In the period from 1 April (Maundy Thursday) to 5 April (Easter Monday) there is a ban on gatherings in public spaces. Open outdoor restaurants will be closed. Shops must also remain closed, only "food retail in the narrow sense" may open on Holy Saturday (3 April). Religious communities are asked to hold only virtual services during this period. Vaccination and testing centres will remain open. Any opening steps under the roadmap agreed on 3 March are to take effect on 6 April at the earliest.
VACCINE PROTECTION: The Robert Koch Institute is to submit a report by the next federal-state virtual meeting on 12 April on the point at which vaccinated persons are "not infectious with such sufficient certainty that inclusion in testing concepts may become obsolete“.
RAPID AND SELF-TESTS: As soon as possible, employees in schools and day-care centres as well as pupils should be tested twice a week.
OPENING UP IN TRIAL PROJECTS: In „time-limited trial projects", the States are allowed to try out in selected regions how areas of public life can be opened up "with strict protective measures and a test concept“.
WORKPLACE: Employers should continue to allow their employees to work from home. Where they cannot, they are to offer regular testing, "at least once and, if available, twice a week". At the beginning of April, the business reports are to include how many companies participate. The federal government then wants to examine possible stricter occupational health and safety regulations.
ECONOMIC AID: The federal government wants to develop further aid for companies that suffer particularly severely and for a long time from closures.
TRAVEL: The federal government and the states "urgently" appeal to refrain from non-essential travel at home and abroad. There is already a quarantine obligation for returnees from foreign areas with high infection rates or with a strong spread of virus variants. Since a slight spread of Covid 19 variants is to be expected, especially at popular holiday destinations, the federal and state governments "expect" all airlines to "consistently test crews and passengers before the return flight and not to further expand flights during the Easter holidays".
The federal government also wants to make a test before departure mandatory for entry into Germany - but this would require the Bundestag to approve an amendment to the Infection Protection Act.
HOMES FOR THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED: Unvaccinated residents should quickly receive a vaccination offer. The federal government's offer to help with testing, for example with federal soldiers, continues to stand.
NEXT STEPS: Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to meet again with the minister presidents on 12 April.
Translation: Mareike Graepel