Düsseldorf · Since the beginning of the week, people in NRW have been able to fill their leisure time in a more varied way: Museums, zoos and animal parks have been allowed to open since Monday. Hairdressers have also resumed their work. Visits to nursing homes are permitted from Sunday.
A beer in the pub, meetings with neighbours and finally sports again: After weeks of corona restrictions, „normal“ life in North Rhine-Westphalia will resume in many ways from Monday (11 May). On Wednesday, the state government announced loosening restrictions for schools, sports, gastronomy, theatre and many other areas. However, strict conditions will apply. Prerequisites for openings are almost always the observance of a safety distance of 1.5 meters and hygiene rules such as the obligation to wear masks.
NRW has achieved the most important goals in the fight against the corona virus, said State Premier Armin Laschet (CDU) after a conference call of the 16 state heads of government with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). He said that time had been gained in the spread of the virus, and there were only a few new infections. The health system had been strengthened. "It has been possible to come to a differentiated, balanced fight against the pandemic." After the restrictions of basic rights, from now on "personal responsibility" of people is being relied upon.
In the discussion between the leaders of the federal states, different "degrees of concern and approaches" had been reflected - across party lines, Laschet said. There had also been "different opinions". "That is part of the temperaments of the prime ministers", the CDU politician stressed.
Previously there had been criticism of the rush by some heads of government who, like Bavaria's Premier Markus Söder (CSU), had announced loosening up even before the consultations with Merkel. NRW head of government Laschet, on the other hand, who had often drawn criticism for his opening policy, strictly adhered to the agreement not to present the roadmap for NRW until after the conference call with Merkel. He was satisfied with the course of events, especially with the "change in the system, to allow regional freedoms, but to have the protective regulations agreed if things get out of hand", Laschet said.
Starting next Monday, members of two households will be allowed to meet again and also go to a restaurant. NRW and the other federal states did not follow the example of Saxony-Anhalt, where meetings of up to five people from different households are allowed again. "We want to prevent that larger groups such as on the meadow on the Rhine from believing that now the ban on contact has been dropped", said Laschet.
Visit to nursing homes
Residents of old people's homes and nursing homes are allowed visitors again from Sunday (10 May) under strict conditions. According to the plans of NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann, the visits could take place in separated areas or outside. Visitors wearing protective clothing may also enter the homes and visit bedridden persons in their rooms. Visits of up to two persons in each room are possible. Only one person is allowed directly into a resident's room. The duration of the visit is limited to a maximum of two hours per visit and day. In addition, the usual rules of hygiene apply, such as wearing masks and using disinfectants.
From Thursday (7 May), children will be allowed to go to the playgrounds again - at the same time as the fourth-graders start school. According to Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP), the opening of the playgrounds is "a small but important step for our children and their families". Children needed the opportunity to romp and play with their peers. According to the Corona Protection Ordinance, the accompanying persons in the playgrounds must keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between each other.
Leisures, Fitness, In- and Outdoor Pools
On 11 May, gyms, dance schools and sports halls may reopen. From 20 May, the outdoor pools are to follow - with the exception of leisure plex pools, however. Indoor swimming pools may resume operation from 30 May.
Starting this Thursday, NRW will again allow contactless sports such as tennis or golf and outdoor training. The prerequisite is that a distance of 1.5 metres is maintained between the athletes. From 30 May, sports enthusiasts will also be allowed to practice their sport again in areas where physical contact is unavoidable. This also applies to sports in closed rooms.
Theatre, Opera and Cinema
They may give performances again under certain conditions from 30 May (Whit Saturday) onwards. A minimum distance of 1.5 metres between visitors must be maintained. The use of security staff is intended to prevent accumulations in the waiting and break areas.
Tourism and Hotels
From 11 May onwards, holiday apartments and camping sites may also be used again for tourist purposes under certain conditions. Leisure parks, excursion boats, bicycle and boat rentals may open. On Ascension Day (21 May) hotels will be reopened for tourists. Strict hygiene protection concepts, distance regulations and contact restrictions will apply.
Hairdressers have been allowed to open their salons again since Monday, May 4. However, strict Corona rules will also apply when visiting the hairdresser. Among other things, distances of two metres must be maintained between the individual workplaces. In addition to haircuts, medical and cosmetic foot treatments have been permitted again since Monday, 4 May.
By covering the mouth and nose with cloth, the risk of infecting other people with the coronavirus should be minimised. Self-sewn fabric masks or scarves and shawls pulled over the face are also permitted. This duty has been in force since 27 April in buses and trains, in all shops and exhibition rooms, at weekly markets, in shopping centres, at bus stops and railway stations, in taxis, doctors' surgeries and similar health care facilities, at the post office, banks and petrol stations. A mask must also be worn when picking up food and drinks in catering establishments.
All pupils in NRW should return to their classrooms at least for a few days before the summer holidays. After the return of the fourth-graders on this Thursday (May 7), which has already been decided, classes 1 to 3 are to follow from Monday. A rolling system is planned. On Monday, the young people who will sit their Abitur (leaving cert, A-Levels) in the next school year 2020/21 will also return to grammar schools and comprehensive school. At the Hauptschule, Realschule and Sekundarschule, grades 5 to 9 will then again receive daily attendance lessons.
On the other hand, comprehensive and grammar school pupils in grades 5 to 10 will need patience: they should receive daily attendance lessons again by 26 May at the latest. There will be no regular schooling for the 2.5 million children and young people in NRW before the summer holidays (beginning 29 June). School Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) ruled out Saturday classes or shift work. Gebauer stressed once again that in this "special Corona year" all pupils would be transferred to the next higher grade. Class work could be replaced by project work. However, this would not apply to the classes with examinations relevant to the final examination. These would still have to write their exams.
The universities will continue to offer online lectures until the summer semester break. "In principle, the universities run their summer semester lectures digitally."
Kita Childcare Kindergarden
Every child should also be able to go to the kindergarten again before the summer. It was agreed that emergency care in the day-care centers would be expanded everywhere by May 11th at the latest, and many countries have already done so. Several states have also announced plans to open more daycare centers.
So far, the group of nominated people has already included professionals from ten sectors who maintain central areas such as health care, energy, water and food supply or public administration. Now that list has been extended to 29 broadly defined sectors and explained in detail. Employees of petrol stations, food trade, drugstores and caretakers, among others, are now explicitly listed. Manufacturers of hygiene, disinfection products and soaps are also relevant to the system, as are waste disposal companies and harvest workers, bankers and notaries. Also new in the list are "persons who are activated or reactivated to strengthen the health care and nursing sector", including trainees for medical-technical or bio-technical assistant positions as well as students of biology, biochemistry, biophysics, veterinary medicine and chemistry from the bachelor's degree onwards.
Since April 27th, single parents have been allowed to bring their children to emergency daycare centres and schools again. This also applies to single parents who are still at school themselves and are about to take their final exams, as well as students in the same situation. For the period after 3 May, a concept for the gradual re-opening of day care is to be developed together with experts.
Irrespective of their size, shops may reopen from 11 May onwards, subject to distance and hygiene regulations (one person per ten square metres of sales area). Anti-infection concepts are still being developed for "body-related services" such as massage studios, cosmetics and tattoo studios.
Stores may open on Sundays
"Retail food stores, weekly markets, pick-up and delivery services and wholesale stores may, in addition to the existing legal provisions, open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays," the TDM Regulation states. Pharmacies may generally open on Sundays and public holidays.
GASTRONOMYRestaurants will be allowed to open again from 11 May. The permit is valid for indoor and outdoor areas. Buffets with open dishes are still prohibited.
Since Friday, church services with strict security concepts and a limited number of participants have again been possible in NRW.
From 30 May onwards, trade fairs and trade congresses may be held again with protection concepts and with restrictions on the number of visitors and participants. However, major events will remain prohibited until 31 August 2020.
The 14-day domestic quarantine obligation for travellers returning to Germany from abroad continues to apply. Exceptions apply to commuters and various professional groups such as truck drivers, pilots or medical staff. However, NRW has now also decreed that these exceptional groups are not allowed to enter hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres and similar facilities within 14 days of their return. Exceptions apply to medical personnel.
Driving schools may continue to offer their services subject to safety precautions and minimum distances. In practical driving school lessons, the minimum distance of 1.5 metres between persons cannot and need not be observed.
Penaltys and Fines
Anyone who "intentionally or negligently" violates essential provisions of the Corona Protection Ordinance and organises a non-permitted event or takes part in such events or assemblies can be punished with up to five years imprisonment.
Administrative offences can be punished with fines of up to 25,000 Euro in accordance with the Infection Protection Act. Accordingly, it is an administrative offence to deliberately or negligently pay unauthorised visits to health or care facilities, operate facilities that do not meet the required standards of hygiene, minimum distances and access regulations, offer or provide overnight accommodation for tourists or "participate in a picnic or barbecue in a public place or public facility". The Corona Protection Ordinance, which initially applied until 3 May and was extended until 10 May, lists a total of 30 administrative offences.
Original text: GA Bonn
Translation: Mareike Graepel