The beginning of summer in Berlin: And we got new Corona-Regulations!
If at the beginning we thought that this crisis will be over within several weeks, now we understand that it will stay with us for quite some time. Therefore, the trend in Germany is going into the direction of getting back some characteristics of normal life. In simple words: now we need an exit-strategy from the lockdown.
Last week, in a long meeting between Angela Merkel and the leaders of the states (Bundesländer), some recommendations were made. In this regard, it is very important to understand how Germany works: since it is a federal republic, each state has the autonomy of making its own decisions and, therefore, its own laws and regulations. Therefore, Angela Merkel, or any other messenger of the federal government, cannot make any decisions about what happens in the state-level. This is what our local governments are here for.
So why did Angela Merkel meet with the leaders of the states, you ask? The recommendations of the federal government are taken seriously. Even though each state can decide for itself, unity within Germany is important to the states. Therefore, we can see that the topics discussed within the different states were similar (schools and shops, for example), and that the trend in the different states is relatively similar.
Here in Berlin, some decisions were made last week, and more were made this week. I know, it can be a bit confusing to keep track, so I summarized the imprtant things up for you:
We are asked to continue with social distancing, reducing our meetings with other people to the needed minimum, keeping 1,5 meters distance from other people. Furthermore, the regulation based on which we are allowed to be outside of our apartment either alone, or with people with whom we share our household or with one more person (meaning: you can meet one friend) is still valid. The provisionally deadline for those contact-restrictions is May 10th, 2020.
Starting today (22.04.2020), shops with the size of 800 qm will be allowd to operate again. However, they will have to keep very strict hygene rules and make sure not to let too many people in in order to allow the distance of 1,5 meters between customers: the rule is, one customer per 20 qm.
There was a big discussion regarding bigger shops and shopping centers/ malls: the latter are allowed to operate but must keep the rules and allow keeping enough distance between customers. This basically means, that waiting areas could hold up to 10 people at the same time. They must also take out or block sitting areas, in order to avoid a situation in which people hang out at the mall or shop. Our government also reached a compromise regarding shops which are bigger than 800 qm: those are allowed to operate if they can "shrink" to less than 800 qm, meaning: if they block the extra space. A good example of that would be Zalando Outlet
Starting Monday, April 27th, 2020, wearing face masks (fabric masks) in public transportation will become obligatory. If you do not have a mask, you can also use a scarf, the important thing is that it covers your nose and mouth. It is not obligatory to wear a mask in shops (for example, at the supermarket), but it is very much recommended to do so). If you wish, you can also make your own DIY face masks from cool fabrics. The internet is full of tutorials for easy and nice DIY masks. Please remember to thouroughly wash your mask after every time you use it in order to avoid germs and infections (Corona is not the only virus out there!).
Schools will graduately start operating starting Monday, April 27th, 2020. In the beginning only the top grades, who are preparing for their highschool diploma tests, will return. The tests will also take place as planned. On May 4th, 2020, 6th graders will return to school, in order to start preparing for highschool. The other classes are not planned to return to school yet. You can find more information about the returning to school strategy here.
Kitas will start offering more places for emergency-daycare, especially for single parents and parents who have system-relevant jobs. The list of system relevant jobs will grow accrdingly, in order to enable more parents to use the emergency daycare. They are planned to slowly return to work as normal, with the due date of August 1st, 2020.
Mass gatherings will continue being forbidden: gatherings with more than 1000 participants will be forbidden until August 31st, 2020. Gatherings with more than 5000 participants will be forbidden until the end of the autome-break (so, until October 24th, 2020).
However, small gatherings will be allowed: starting May 4th, small important gatherings of up to 20 people (for example, weddings and funurals) will be allowed, as well as small gatherings in the fresh outdoors with up to 50 people (for example: small demonstrations), as long as the distance and hygene rules are kept.
Museums and libraries will be allowed to open starting May 4th, 2020.
The zoos and botanical gardens will start operating on April 22nd, 2020 under the hygene and distance rules.
Hair-dressers will be allowed to start operating starting May 4th, 2020, under the strict hygene and distance rules. It will probably look like this, for example.
Unortunately, restaurants, cafes and bars will remain closed for sitting in. They will continue to be allowed to sell things to go and work with deliveries.
Thank you for reading my blog! The purpose of this place is to make information accessable to expats living in Germany throughout the crisis. I believe that we are stronger together and that we should support each other in times of need <3