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Infectious Diseases Protection Act: Germany’s nationwide “emergency brake” brings these changes

Infectious Diseases Protection Act : Germany’s nationwide “emergency brake” brings these changes

Government officials have discussed national coronavirus rules - an “emergency brake” - for a long time, but now it has happened very quickly: The Infectious Diseases Protection Act was passed in the German lower and upper houses of parliament. What does this mean for people living in Germany?

Despite massive criticism, the Bundesrat has allowed the amended Infectious Diseases Protection Act to pass. It means a new set of rules come into force with a nationwide “emergency brake”.

FEDERAL EMERGENCY BRAKE:

If the seven-day incidence (infections within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants) exceeds the threshold of 100 on three consecutive days, stricter measures are to apply two days later. These remain in force until the seven-day incidence falls below the threshold of 100 for five consecutive days - at which point the extra measures will cease to apply two days later.

The following rules apply when the “emergency brake” takes effect:

PRIVATE CONTACTS:

One household can meet up only with one other person. Children up to 14 years of age do not count in this calculation. These contact restrictions do not apply to gatherings of spouses and domestic partners or to exercise custody and access rights. For funeral services, up to 30 people may gather.

NIGHTTIME CURFEW:

From 10:00 p.m. until 5 a.m., no one is allowed to leave their own home or property. Exceptions include "averting danger to life, limb or property" such as human or animal health emergencies or urgent medical treatment. Outdoor exercise remains permitted until midnight, but only alone and not in sports facilities.

People are still allowed to go to their jobs and journalists are allowed to do reporting. The same applies to the exercise of custody or access rights, the urgent care of persons in need of support or minors or the accompaniment of dying persons, the care of animals or "similarly weighty and unavoidable purposes".

RECREATIONAL FACILITIES:

Facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, dance clubs, brothels, wellness centers, solariums, fitness studios, excursion boats or indoor playgrounds must close.

STORES:

Only Click&Collect is allowed - the ordering and pickup of purchases. If the incidence drops below 150, customers will be allowed again with a negative Covid-19 test and an appointment.

Food retailers, beverage stores, health food stores, baby stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drugstores, opticians, hearing aid stores, gas stations, newsagents, bookstores, flower shops, pet supply and feed stores, garden centers and wholesalers will continue to be exempt from closures or severe restrictions. However, they may only sell the usual range of products.

Limits apply to the permitted number of customers depending on the sales area. In enclosed spaces, customers must wear a mask at FFP2 level or a medical mask.

ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT AND ZOOS:

Theaters, operas, concert halls, stages, music clubs, cinemas (except drive-in theaters), museums, exhibitions and memorials must close, and related events are also prohibited. Outdoor areas of zoos and botanical gardens are to remain open to visitors who have a current negative test.

SPORTS:

Only non-contact individual sports will remain allowed, which can be done alone, in pairs or with members of one's household. There are exceptions for professional and competitive athletes. For children up to the age of 14, sports in groups should continue to be possible.

GASTRONOMY:

The operation of restaurants and canteens is prohibited. There are exceptions, for example, for dining rooms in rehabilitation centers or nursing homes, catering for the homeless or for long-distance truck drivers. Pick-up of takeaway food and beverages remains permitted, as does delivery.

SERVICES REQUIRING CLOSE PHYSICAL PROXIMITY:

Services involving close physical proximity to the customer are prohibited. Services that "serve medical, therapeutic, nursing or pastoral purposes, as well as hairdressing and podiatry," are exempt. FFP2 masks or masks with the same protective effect must be worn. Those who want to go to the hairdresser or podiatrist must present a negative test result no more than 24 hours old.

LOCAL AND LONG-DISTANCE TRANSPORT:

For passengers in buses, trains and cabs, masks with FFP2 level are mandatory. For staff who have contact with customers, medical masks are mandatory. If possible, only half of the regular number of passengers should travel.

TOURISM:

The rental of tourist accommodation is prohibited.

Irrespective of the “emergency brake”, the following applies:

SCHOOLS:

Students and teachers where there are face-to-face lessons must test twice a week. In addition, a separate “emergency brake” applies here: if the seven-day incidence exceeds the threshold of 100 for three consecutive days, alternate instruction becomes mandatory two days later. From an incidence of 165, face-to-face classes in schools, vocational schools, colleges, adult education institutions and similar institutions will be prohibited after two days. Exceptions for graduating classes and special schools are possible. This special “emergency brake” also applies to daycare centers, but the states can allow emergency childcare. The school “emergency brake” no longer applies when the seven-day incidence falls below the threshold of 165 for five consecutive days.

WORKPLACE:

Companies must provide two Covid-19 tests per week - the Cabinet decided this on Wednesday. If possible, employers must allow employees to work from home, and employees should generally accept this.

VACCINATED PEOPLE:

The law allows the federal government to consider what special relief might be provided to vaccinated persons or persons who have had Covid-19.

FURTHER REGULATIONS:

Further-reaching measures remain unaffected by the emergency brake. Church services are also not covered by it.

FEDERAL REGULATIONS:

For areas with an incidence above 100, the federal government can issue stricter requirements by regulation. However, both the lower and upper houses of parliament must approve.

DURATION OF REGULATIONS:

All regulations are limited to June 30 at the latest.

(Orig. text: dpa, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)