Düsseldorf In the NRW cities there should once again be more opportunities for shopping. From next Monday onwards, all shops will be allowed to open – but not with the entire sales area.
In the NRW cities there should once again be more opportunities for shopping. From next Monday onwards, all shops will be allowed to open - but not with the entire sales area.
North Rhine-Westphalia is easing further restrictions on retail imposed for corona containment. From Monday on, all shops in the state will be allowed to open again. Large retailers, however, will have to reduce their sales area to 800 square meters, as Economics Minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) announced on Wednesday. So far, only shops with a maximum size of 800 square meters are allowed to open. NRW is thus following the regulations in other federal states. There had been much criticism of the different regulations in Germany.
Pinkwart justified the decision, saying that the state government wanted to "use existing leeway for a gradual resumption of economic activities". With this, "more normality will return to the cities". DIY superstores and garden centres, car dealerships, furniture dealers and baby markets are still allowed to sell their goods over their entire area.
Large retailers such as the department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof or the Saturn consumer electronics stores could also use it to open up small sections of their stores. They have already done so in other federal states. Meanwhile, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof withdrew its urgent appeal against the closures before the Higher Administrative Court of Münster. However, the main proceedings are still pending, the court announced.
Pinkwart held out the prospect of reopening their businesses to the innkeepers. NRW is working with Baden-Wuerttemberg and other states on a joint concept for opening steps after May 4. The concept should be ready by the next round of consultations between the federal and state governments. The existence of numerous businesses and jobs in the gastronomy sector is endangered. "That is why we now need a well-considered, differentiated and coordinated approach between the federal states," said Pinkwart.
After the temporary cessation of payments of the emergency aid for self-employed persons and small businesses, a quarter of the applicants are still waiting for their money. Of the more than 400,000 applications received, about 300,000 have been paid out so far. The outstanding payments should be made by the end of this week, and some by the beginning of next week, Pinkwart said.
The public prosecutor's office in Cologne is investigating whether aid money has flowed to criminals via fake application pages. So far, 733 criminal charges have been filed, reported State Director of Criminal Investigation Dieter Schürmann in the Interior Committee of the state parliament. So far he only knew of one case in which the fraud had actually led to a payout. The amount of damages can probably be estimated within the next days.
Meanwhile, the public prosecutors' offices in Essen and Duisburg are investigating in connection with the emergency aid. The investigators have been informed by banks about "implausible receipts of aid money into customer accounts", said Essen's senior public prosecutor Anette Milk on Wednesday. Initially, there had been about a dozen cases, which are now being investigated. The investigators were checking the suspicion of subsidy fraud. According to a spokeswoman, the public prosecutor's office in Duisburg is currently investigating eight cases.
Original text: dpa
Translation: Mareike Graepel