Duesseldorf The lockdown in North Rhine-Westphalia will become even more stringent as of January 11, 2021. The state of NRW has now published the new Corona Protection Ordinance. Here is what you need to know about the new rules.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has published the new Corona Protection Ordinance, which will be valid from Monday, January 11. The federal and state governments had agreed on stricter rules to combat the coronavirus pandemic because of the continuing high number of new infections. According to the NRW Ministry of Health, people from one household are now only allowed to meet with one other person. Employers are called upon to continue to allow their employees to work from home. Company cafeterias and dining halls will remain closed for the most part. Also effective Monday is a new Corona Care Ordinance. Both ordinances are to remain in effect until Jan. 31.
On Tuesday, federal and state governments agreed to restrict travel in coronavirus hotspots. Districts or towns with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days are considered hotspots. Residents in hotspots are restricted from traveling more than 15 kilometers from their home, unless there is a valid reason. On Friday, Gelsenkirchen, the district of Höxter and the Oberbergische district (all located in the state of NRW) were above the 200 mark.
In public areas, people must keep at a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from other persons. Contact in private meetings is restricted to one other person from another household, who may be accompanied by children who are being looked after. Anyone who is accompanying, caring for or supervising minors is exempt from this rule. Children on playgrounds are also exempt. Professional meetings that must take place in person remain permitted.
The rule about limiting travel to 15 kilometers in coronavirus hotspots is not in the new ordinance. According to a spokesperson for the NRW Ministry of Health, the affected districts must include this in their own regulations.
A mask must be worn in enclosed public spaces. This also applies in the workplace if a distance of one and a half meters from other persons cannot be safely maintained. Masks must also be worn in the immediate vicinity of stores and on the property of the store, including the parking lot or any paths that lead to the store.
Masks remain mandatory on buses and trains, in all retail stores and showrooms, at weekly markets, in shopping centers, at bus stops and train stations, in cabs, doctors' offices and similar health care facilities, at the post office, in banks and at gas stations, and on playgrounds. Children who do not yet attend school do not need to wear a mask. People who cannot wear masks for medical reasons also don’t need to wear a mask but must have a medical certificate to prove it. Keeping a distance of at least 1.5 meters is required.
Schools and universities
The 2.5 million school students in NRW will use distance learning - but emergency child care is available for students up to grade six. The measures will initially apply until the end of January, Family Minister Joachim Stamp and Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer (both FDP) announced on Wednesday after a meeting of the state cabinet.
Gebauer said they are proceeding with distance learning only to avoid a double burden on teachers which otherwise would force them to teach both in the classroom and online.
If teachers need more time to prepare for distance learning, they can delay the start of classes until January 13. Schools will offer child care for students in grades 1 to 6 if they cannot be cared for or supervised at home, or if there is a risk to the child’s well-being in such a case. But they will not receive regular instruction during the childcare.
In an interview on Phoenix television on Thursday, Gebauer ruled out a continuation of distance learning after the current lockdown which is in effect until the end of January.
Kitas and day care
Starting Monday, daycare centers in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia will offer only limited care - if at all possible, parents should keep their children at home altogether. In daycare centers, the maximum amount of care for each child will be reduced by ten hours per week, Family Minister Joachim Stamp announced. Groups are also to be strictly separated from one another. At the same time, Stamp appealed: "The fewer children there are in the daycare centers, the easier it is for the staff (...) to organize the everyday routine there," said Stamp. There will be no emergency care in the Kitas like in the spring of 2020, when in the first lockdown only parents with jobs viewed as essential could have their children placed in child care.
Visits to nursing homes
In nursing homes and similar facilities for persons with disabilities, the testing and hygiene rules are being tightened again. Visitors must always wear FFP2 masks. As far as possible, a rapid test is 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.
Retail stores remain closed until January 31. Exceptions: Grocery stores, weekly food markets, direct food marketers, pickup and delivery services, beverage stores, health food stores, baby specialty stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, optometrists, hearing aid providers, gas stations, automotive and bicycle repair shops, banks, post offices, dry cleaners, laundromats, newspaper sales, pet supply stores, and wholesale.
Customers per square meter
For stores with a sales area of up to 800 square meters, the current Corona Protection Ordinance states that no more than one person per ten square meters may enter the store. If the sales area is larger, a maximum of one person per 20 square meters of sales area may be in the store. In the case of shopping centers, the total sales area is measured.
Restaurants and alcoholic beverages
Restaurants remain closed except for takeouts and deliveries. Some restaurants in Bonn and the region have adapted to the situation and offer these services. Sales of beverages with alcohol are not permitted between 11 pm and 6 am, and consuming alcoholic beverages in public places is not allowed at any time.
Religious services as well as gatherings of religious communities are allowed only if a minimum distance of 1.5 meters is maintained and the mask requirement observed. Worshipers are not allowed to sing. Churches and communities of faith must register with authorities if they expect the facility to be at capacity.
Gatherings and meetings
Generally, all events are prohibited until January 31, 2021.
Recreational and amateur sports are prohibited on and in all public and private sports facilities, gyms, swimming pools and similar (as in the spring). This also applies to individual sports in sports facilities/clubs, such as tennis or golf. This means that only sports activities alone or in pairs are permitted outdoors.
The operation of swimming pools, saunas, spas, amusement parks, indoor playgrounds, arcades, casinos, clubs and discos is prohibited until January 31. Ski lifts are also not allowed to run.
Concerts and performing arts
Concerts and performances or visits in theaters, opera houses, concert halls, cinemas and other public or private facilities, as well as museums, art exhibitions, galleries, castles, memorials and similar facilities are not allowed. Rehearsals, concerts and performances for recording or broadcast on television, radio and online are permitted but without an audience. Drive-in theaters and similar are allowed if the distance between vehicles is at least 1.5 meters. Music festivals and similar events are prohibited until at least January 31, 2021.
Hotels and hostels
Overnight stays for tourists or for private purposes are not allowed. Only people who need to travel for business are permitted overnight stays.
Services and cosmetics
Services and skilled trades where a minimum distance of 1.50 meters from the customer cannot be maintained (in particular, facials, cosmetics, nail salons, manicures, massages, tattooing and piercing) are prohibited. Hair salons have been closed since December 16 and remain so until the end of January. Medically necessary treatments, for example physiotherapy, occupational therapy and podiatry/foot care, will remain permitted.