Covid-19 restrictions change on Saturday Some restaurants and hotels to open again in NRW

Düsseldorf · The state of NRW has given restaurateurs, hoteliers and event organizers, among others, a concrete perspective for opening up again. These and other rules are to apply from Saturday - depending on the relevant incidence rates. Here is an overview:

 Restaurant outdoor seating areas will be allowed to open in municipalities in NRW which have an incidence rate under 100.

Restaurant outdoor seating areas will be allowed to open in municipalities in NRW which have an incidence rate under 100.

Foto: dpa/Roland Weihrauch

Rays of hope for restaurateurs, hoteliers and trade fair organizers in North Rhine-Westphalia. On Wednesday, the state ministers for health and for economics, Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) and Andreas Pinkwart (FDP), spelled out the criteria for coming out of the corona lockdown. In Düsseldorf, they explained what restrictions will still be in place with the updated Corona Protection Ordinance which goes into effect on May 15.

GASTRONOMY: Outdoor eating areas of restaurants will be allowed to open again if the seven-day incidence rate on five working days is below 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. This is currently the case in fifteen districts and cities in NRW as of Wednesday, according to the State Public Health Bureau. But only a reduced number of guests are allowed, he said. “Allowed are those who have either tested negative (within 48 hours), are vaccinated or recovered." Indoor areas are allowed to reopen only with an incidence rate below 50. Münster is nearing 50.

HOTELS: Hotels are allowed to reopen with some conditions in place when the weekly incidence rate stays under 100 for at least five days. But hotels are limited to a maximum of 60 percent of hotel capacity, at least until the incidence rate falls below 50. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) welcomed the prospect of opening, but called for simple and unbureaucratic controls. It should be sufficient, it said, for a guest to show a document. "Further checks or even documentation to prove guests should be allowed access" cannot be expected of hospitality industry workers, said Haakon Herbst, regional president at Dehoga NRW.

CAMPING: Overnight stays in vacation homes and on camping and RV sites will also be permitted again with a stable weekly incidence rate below 100. This applies for those who have tested negative, are vaccinated or recovered. The ADAC expects demand to be even stronger than in 2020.

RETAIL: Under an incidence rate of 100, all stores will be allowed to open without shoppers having to make an appointment in advance, but only for a limited number of customers who have tested negative.

TRADE FAIRS: NRW is the first state with the prospect of opening up for trade fairs again, Pinkwart emphasized. Trade fairs will be allowed with a limited number of visitors if the incidence rate is below 50. The same rules are to apply to congresses and conferences.

THE ARTS AND CULTURE: In regions with a weekly incidence rate below 100, outdoor events with up to 500 guests are allowed, including seated outdoor concerts. Visits to museums, art exhibitions, galleries, palaces, castles, memorials and similar institutions are permitted with advance booking. A maximum of one visitor per 20 square meters of exhibition space is permitted in closed rooms.

RECREATIONAL AND CONTACT RESTRICTIONS: If the incidence rate is less than 100, smaller outdoor facilities may open to those who are vaccinated, have tested negative, or are recovered. Some examples are miniature golf, climbing parks, and high ropes courses. Outdoor pools are allowed to admit a limited number of visitors for exercise but the sunbathing areas may not be used. Private events are only permitted when the incidence rate is below 50: outdoors with a maximum of 100 people, indoors with a maximum of 50 people - and each scenario requires a negative test result. Curfews go away when the incidence rate falls below 100. With an incidence rate between 50 and 100, one household may meet with one other person. In addition, a maximum of five people from two households are also allowed to meet. Below the 50 mark, meetings with ten people from up to three households plus children up to the age of 14 would again be permitted.

EDUCATION: Laumann is seeking a nationwide solution for a gradual return to normality in daycare centers, schools and universities. It is to take effect when the weekly incidence rate falls below 100 nationwide. At the beginning of next week, there will be talks between the ministries of health, children, schools and universities.

SPORTS: When there is a stable incidence rate below 100, there will also be relaxations on sports restrictions. Contact sports in outdoor sports facilities will then be permitted for children from age 14, in groups of up to 20. Older people will then be able to participate in non-contact sports with up to 20 participants. For contact sports, older people would have to abide by the rules in effect with a seven-day incidence rate between 50 and 100 - that is, up to five people from two households would be allowed. Children 14 and younger are not included in this equation. At incidence levels below 50, "outdoor sports are allowed with no limit on the number of people." Indoor sports and going to fitness clubs should then be allowed with testing and contact tracing. For indoor contact sports, up to ten people from three households are allowed together.

There are also new rules for spectators at sporting events: Between incidence levels of 50 and 100, people with a negative test will again be allowed to attend outdoor events, but only up to 20 percent of capacity and a maximum of 500. If the incidence rate falls below 50, those limits will remain in place, but there won't have to be a negative test, according to the plan. Then, spectators will be also allowed to attend indoor events - but with testing, up to 20 percent of capacity and a maximum of 250 people.

VACCINATIONS: "My goal is that we manage to vaccinate about one percent of those eligible for vaccinations every day in North Rhine-Westphalia," Laumann said. So far, about 35 percent in NRW have had their first vaccine dose, and 8.8 percent are fully vaccinated. About one million children and adolescents between the ages of twelve and 15 in NRW can also expect to become eligible as soon as the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine is approved for this age group. "The federal government will provide additional vaccines for this purpose."

NETHERLANDS: A new federal entry regulation stipulates that travelers who have been in the Netherlands for more than 48 hours must spend five days in quarantine, Laumann explained. Anyone who has been in the Netherlands for more than 48 hours and is not a border commuter must assume that the new regulation applies, he said. Only on the fifth day would those affected be allowed to be tested. The previous North Rhine-Westphalian regulation, which allowed travelers to be tested immediately after their return, no longer applies.

CURRENT COVID-19 SITUATION: Currently, the statewide incidence rate in NRW is 116.2, according to current figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), and continues to go down. In NRW on Wednesday, 15 of a total of 53 districts and cities were below the 100 mark and several others just above.The situation looked most positive in Münster with a seven-day incidence of 51.7. The incidence rate was also below 100 on Wednesday in the Rhein-Sieg district, where the federal “emergency brake” measures will no longer apply starting Friday. At present, Laumann said, he no longer feared that they would run short on intensive care beds or ventilators. On the other hand, the chairwoman of the Green Party's state parliamentary group, Josefine Paul, warned against risking a "yo-yo effect" with opening up too quickly.

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

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