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Appointment needed to visit stores: New corona rules for NRW as of Monday

Appointment needed to visit stores : New corona rules for NRW as of Monday

Even though the lockdown is extended in NRW, there will still be some easing up of corona restrictions beginning on Monday, March 8. The state of NRW has now published the latest corona rules and regulations. Here is an overview.

On Monday, March 8, corona rules and regulations in North Rhine-Westphalia will be relaxed somewhat. One change is that the state is allowing retailers, music schools and certain service providers more freedom. In addition, museums and galleries will be allowed to reopen under certain conditions. All rules apply for the time being up to and including March 28. Further measures to open up could come as early as March 22.

Previously, the federal and state governments had agreed to extend the lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic in light of a persistently high level of new infections. At the same time, they set up framework conditions for easing up on the restrictions. A gradual opening strategy was agreed upon. Here are the current rules at a glance:

Social contacts

In public spaces, one must maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from other persons. Children on playgrounds, among others, are exempt from this rule, and required professional gatherings also remain permitted. Meeting up in public is now possible with a maximum of five people from two households. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted in this equation. Couples are considered one household regardless of their living arrangements.

Mandatory masks

Masks continue to be mandatory. From Monday, March 8 in NRW, medical masks - which include so-called surgical masks and FFP2 masks - are required in museums and art exhibitions, at educational events in closed rooms or when working or providing services which require close physical proximity.

Medical masks are also required on buses and trains, in places of worship, in stores, doctors' offices and other medical facilities, as well as in gas stations, banks and post offices. This also applies in the workplace if a distance of one and a half meters from other persons cannot be safely maintained.

In other public places, everyday cotton masks are allowed as an alternative. This applies, for example, at weekly markets, at open-air gatherings with more than 25 people, on playgrounds, and at other open-air locations where appropriate regulations apply. A mask must also be worn in the immediate vicinity of retail stores, especially on the store's property, in the parking areas belonging to the store, and on the paths leading to a store.

Children who do not yet attend school and people who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons are still excluded from the mask requirement. In this case, the exemption must be proven by a medical certificate. If children under the age of 14 cannot wear a medical mask due to the fit, an everyday cotton mask is allowed as a substitute. The obligation to wear an everyday cotton mask also applies in daycare centers and other daycare and childcare services as well as in school buildings and on school grounds.

Schools

Starting March 15, North Rhine-Westphalia will bring all secondary school students back to their classes, at least for some days. The NRW Ministry of Education said that for the two weeks leading up to Easter vacation, the plan is to have limited attendance classes in alternating mode. As a rule, classes or courses at secondary schools should be divided. No student should be without face-to-face instruction for more than a week, it said. For elementary school students and special education students at primary level, who were already the first to return to the schools on February 22 in half class size and in alternating mode, it remains the same: “The current rules in place …will continue unchanged until the Easter vacations in 2021.”

Kitas (child care and kindergartens)

In NRW's daycare centers, the corona-related reduction of ten hours per week and keeping the children in fixed groups will continue at least until Easter (April 4). This was announced by NRW Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) on Friday.

Retail

Stationery stores, bookstores, flower shops and garden markets will be allowed to open from Monday, March 8, under the same conditions as stores already open at present. All other stores will be allowed to offer appointment shopping, known as "Click & Meet," starting March 8. The condition is that the number of customers present at the same time will be limited to one customer per 40 square meters. An appointment is required and there is a limit on the time one is allowed to shop.

The exemption rules currently apply to: Stores and weekly food markets, direct food marketers, pick-up and delivery services, beverage markets, health food stores, baby specialty markets, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, opticians, hearing aid stores, gas stations, automotive and bicycle repair shops, banks, post offices, dry cleaners, laundromats, newspaper sales, pet supply markets, animal feed stores and wholesale stores.

Gastronomy

Restaurants, cafes and pubs must remain closed. Pick-up or delivery sales remain permitted. Restaurants in Bonn and the region have adapted their offerings to comply with this rule. However, the consumption of food and beverages is prohibited within a radius of 50 meters around the eating establishment.

Services and cosmetics

Hairdressing services have already been allowed again since March 1. As of March 8, all other services requiring close physical proximity, where a minimum distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained, are also permitted again, subject to compliance with hygiene requirements. If customers cannot wear a mask in the process (for example, in facial cosmetics), they must provide a daily negative test result. In addition, regular testing of employees is required. It initially remained unclear whether rapid tests can also be carried out on site or whether they have to be officially verified beforehand.

Music and art schools

Classes in music and art schools in face-to-face form will be permitted again in North Rhine-Westphalia starting Monday, March 8, for groups of no more than five students.

Sports

At outdoor sports facilities, sports are permitted as before in pairs or within one's own household - but new is that you can also have a maximum of five people from two different households. Groups of no more than 20 children up to and including 14 years of age with up to two educators or supervisors may also do sports together outdoors. Recreational and amateur sports activities on and in all public and private sports facilities, gyms, swimming pools and similar facilities continue to be prohibited.

Performing arts and recreational activities

The operation of museums, art exhibitions, galleries, castles, memorials and similar facilities is permitted from Monday, March 8 - but only with an appointment and assured traceability. The number of visitors present at the same time in closed rooms may not exceed one person per 20 square meters. The same applies to the operation of zoological gardens and animal parks. In outdoor areas, there is no specification on the permissible number of persons per square meter.

Concerts and performances in theaters, opera houses, concert halls, cinemas and other public or private arts facilities remain prohibited. Rehearsals that are part of professional practice and concerts and performances that are part of professional practice without an audience for recording or broadcast on television, radio and online remain permitted. The operation of drive-in theaters and similar is permitted if the distance between vehicles is at least 1.5 meters. Music festivals and similar events remain prohibited, as does the operation of swimming pools, tanning salons, amusement parks, amusement arcades, dance clubs and similar establishments.

Visits to nursing homes

The testing and hygiene rules remain in place in nursing homes and in facilities for those who are mentally or physically impaired. Visitors are required to wear FFP2 masks. As far as possible, a rapid test should be recommended and offered to them prior to their visit. Employees must be tested every three days and also wear FFP2 masks when coming into direct contact with people in need of care. Residents should also be tested regularly.

Religious services

Religious services must be registered with the relevant authorities if visitor numbers are expected to approach capacity. Worship services and gatherings of religious communities are only permitted if a minimum distance of 1.5 meters is maintained and the medical mask requirement is observed. Worshipers are not allowed to sing. Churches and faith communities must collect visitors' contact information.

Gatherings

Generally, events are prohibited; however, there are numerous exceptions. These apply to legally designated bodies of public and private law institutions, professional groups and homeowner associations, political parties or clubs, funerals, civil marriage ceremonies, and gatherings under the Assembly Act. Special arrangements must be made here.

Hotels and accommodation

Overnight accommodations for tourist purposes remain prohibited. Overnight stays for private purposes are only permitted for reasons of medical or nursing care as well as for urgent social-ethical reasons. Overnight stays for professional reasons are also permitted.

(Orig. text: ga / Translation: ck)