Düsseldorf · The range of leisure activities available for people in NRW is now more varied: hairdressers, museums, zoos and playgrounds will be allowed to open again. However, patience is still needed for other activities. There is no specific timetable yet for schools and nurseries. Here is an overview of the measures currently in force.
Animal parks, museums, playgrounds: After weeks of closures due to the corona crisis, people in North Rhine-Westphalia will experience some relaxation of the rules this week. On Friday evening, the state government in Düsseldorf announced the reopening of zoos, botanical gardens, museums, castles and galleries from Monday 4 May. Educational institutions such as adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) and music schools can start operating.
The loosening of the regulations is laid down in the state's updated Corona Protection Ordinance. The ban on contact and other restrictions will be further extended in the revised version, which will be effective from Monday. For example, sports facilities and fitness studios as well as theatres, clubs and amusement parks will remain closed.
Covering the mouth and nose with material should reduce the risk of infecting other people with the coronavirus. Homemade fabric masks or scarves and shawls pulled over the face are also permitted.
This regulation has been in force since 27 April in buses and trains, in all shops and showrooms, at weekly markets, in shopping centres, at bus stops and railway stations, in taxis, doctors' surgeries and similar health care facilities, at the post office, in banks and at petrol stations. A mask must also be worn when picking up food and drinks at catering establishments.
SCHOOLS AND KINDERGARTEN
The revised Corona Protection Ordinance implements in NRW the joint resolutions of the Minister-Presidents' Conference held on Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel. All decisions were discussed in a video conference on Friday with the central municipal associations in NRW. The participants also agreed on the further procedure for schools and early childhood education. No concrete dates were announced, however, and the next federal-state conference on Wednesday 6 May will decide on this and all further steps for the reopening of schools. The municipalities demanded a “reasonable lead time” for the further opening of schools. The next step for childcare at kindergarten should take place on 18 May at the earliest, according to the NRW Association of Cities.
So far, the group of people entitled to emergency childcare has included professionals from ten sectors who maintain central areas such as health care, energy, water and food supply or public administration. Now this group has been extended to 29 broadly defined sectors and explained in detail. Employees of petrol stations, the food trade, drug stores and caretakers are now explicitly listed. Manufacturers of hygiene and disinfection products and soaps are also known as ‘system relevant’, as are waste disposal companies and harvest workers, bankers and notaries. Also new in the list are “persons who are activated or reactivated to strengthen the health care and nursing sector”, including trainees for medical-technical or bio-technical assistant positions as well as students of biology, biochemistry, biophysics, veterinary medicine and chemistry from bachelor's degree onwards. Since 27 April single parents have for the first time been allowed to bring their children to emergency childcare centres and schools. This also applies to single parents who are still at school themselves and are about to take their final exams, as well as students in the same situation. For the period after 3 May, a concept for the gradual re-opening of day care is to be developed together with experts.
From Monday, local transport in NRW will be significantly expanded. Trains on the S-Bahn, Regionalbahn and Regionalexpress lines will be increased, but there will still be restrictions in individual regions as well as at night and on the weekend, the Ministry of Transport in Düsseldorf announced on Friday. A gradual return to the regular timetable is planned in the coming weeks.
Since Monday 20 April, shops with an area of less than 800 square metres were initially allowed to reopen in NRW, provided that no more than one customer per 20 square meters is admitted, and that care is taken to ensure that the distancing and hygiene rules are observed. From Monday 27 April, all other shops may also reopen. However, large stores must limit their sales area to a maximum of 800 square metres using partitioning.
The revised Ordinance states that retail food stores, weekly markets, collection and delivery services and wholesale stores may, in addition to the existing legal provisions, open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays. Pharmacies are generally allowed to open on Sundays and public holidays.
The operation of restaurants, pubs, snack bars, refectories, cafeterias, canteens, pubs, cafes, ice cream parlours and other catering establishments remains prohibited for the time being. They may, however, supply food and beverages if hygiene regulations and minimum distances are observed and queues can be avoided. The consumption of food is forbidden within a radius of 50 metres around catering establishments and shops or kiosks where the food was purchased.
Hairdressers are allowed to open their salons again from Monday 4 May. However, strict corona rules will apply. Among other things, there must be a distance of two metres between the individual workstations.
From Thursday 7 May children will finally be allowed to visit playgrounds again - at the same time as children in the fourth grade (vierte Klasse) start school. The Corona Protection Ordinance states that the accompanying persons in the playgrounds must keep a minimum distance of 1.50 metres from each other.
Since Friday, church services with strict safety regulations and a limited number of participants are allowed to be held in NRW. The dioceses expect an initially reserved response with many worshippers taking the precaution of watching the service on television or online.
The 14-day domestic quarantine obligation for travellers returning to Germany from abroad continues to apply. Exceptions apply to commuters and various professional groups such as truck drivers, pilots or medical staff. However, NRW has now also decreed that these exceptional groups are not allowed to enter hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres and similar facilities within 14 days of their return. Exceptions apply to medical personnel.
Driving schools may continue to offer their services subject to safety precautions and minimum distances. In practical driving school lessons, the minimum distance of 1.5 metres between persons cannot and need not be observed.
According to the Ordinance, “any sports activity on and in all public and private sports facilities and all meetings in clubs” are prohibited. Football pitches, swimming pools and fitness studios must remain closed. PENALTIES & FINES Anyone who “intentionally or negligently” violates essential provisions of the Corona Protection Ordinance and organises an unpermitted event or takes part in such events or meetings may be punished with up to five years imprisonment.
Administrative offences (Ordnungswidrigkeiten) can be punished with fines of up to 25,000 euros in accordance with the Infection Protection Act. It is an administrative offence to deliberately or negligently pay unauthorised visits to health or care facilities, to operate facilities that do not meet the required standards of hygiene, minimum distances and access regulations, to offer or provide overnight accommodation for tourists or to “participate in a picnic or barbecue in a public place or public facility”.
(Original text: dpa, Translation: Caroline Kusch)