IN PICTURES: How Germany is lifting its coronavirus lockdown

Germany has been slowly reintroducing public life and easing lockdown measures put in place to stem the coronavirus spread. Here are some of the best pictures.

IN PICTURES: How Germany is lifting its coronavirus lockdown
Veronika Ambach-Gattung (on the right) talks to her mother Hannelore Scheuerle in a tent in front of the Maria Königin old people's home in Rhineland Palatinate on Mother's Day on May 10th. Photo: DPA

In mid-March Germany began shutting down much of public life and from March 23rd people were urged to only leave their homes for essential reasons.

However, since April 20th, the lockdown has been gradually lifted. This week more businesses and facilities have been reopening, although contact restrictions and social distancing measures remain in place.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus and what do I need to know?

These photos, taken by DPA, show life around Germany during this time.

In some states pubs (known as Kneipen) and restaurants are preparing to open. In Mainz, Janine Geibel-Emden, of the traditional pub or Kneipe “Zur Andau”, stands behind a glass guard at the counter on May 11th. The pub in the city centre wants to reopen in compliance with coronavirus hygiene regulations.

Ulrike Haase adjusts a mouthguard on a doll in the restaurant at 'Hotel Haase' in Laatzen, Lower Saxony on May 12th. Due to corona requirements, seats have to be left free in restaurants. The Hotel Haase wants to use dolls so the restaurant does not look empty.

Guests sit outside at tables in front of the restaurant “Salon Schmitz” in Cologne on May 11th.

Gyms are beginning to reopen in Germany. The first state to allow them to open is North Rhine-Westphalia. At this gym in Cologne, a worker disinfects a machine, while a gym-goer works out wearing a face mask in the next image. Both photos were taken on May 11th.

An employee and customer at the tattoo studio “Mommy I'm Sorry” in Stuttgart on May 11th. Tattoo studios have been allowed to open in Baden-Württemberg since May 11th under certain conditions.

Tamara and Frank sitting with their daughter Marie on the North Sea beach of Harlesiel in Lower Saxony on May 10th. Regions are planning to restart the tourist industry in the coming weeks.

Elisabeth Djata, resident at the AWO elderly people's centre in Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, receives a bouquet of flowers from her grandson on May 10th. Now people in nursing homes are allowed one regular visit, under certain conditions.

A health care worker gives a thumbs up at the corona ward in the Municipal Hospital Dresden on May 11th.

Church-goers attend a service at the Heilgeistkirche in Stralsund, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on May 10th. Church services are allowed in Germany again with social distancing measures in place.

Passersby enjoy a spontaneous concert on Merianplatz in the Nordend district of Frankfurt am Main on May 10th.

People playing volleyball in Berlin on May 10th. Non-contact sports are allowed in Germany once again.



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Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

Three years after Germany introduced a series of protective measures against the coronavirus, the last are set to be repealed on Friday.

Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

The remaining restrictions – or the requirement to wear a mask in surgeries, clinics and nursing homes – are falling away a couple of days after German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) made an announcement that the Covid-19 pandemic is “over.”

“We have successfully managed the pandemic in Germany,” said Lauterbach at a press conference on Wednesday.

In light of low infection numbers and virus variants deemed to be less dangerous, Germany has been steadily peeling away the last of its longstanding measures. 

READ ALSO: Germany monitoring new Covid variant closely, says Health Minister

The obligation to wear a mask on public transport was lifted on February 2nd. 

During the height of the pandemic between 2020 and 2021, Germany introduced its strictest measures, which saw the closure of public institutions including schools and daycare centres (Kitas).

“The strategy of coping with the crisis had been successful overall,” said Lauterbach, while also admitting: “I don’t believe that the long school closures were entirely necessary.”

Since the first coronavirus cases in Germany were detected in January 2020, there have been over 38 million reported cases of the virus, and 171,272 people who died from or with the virus, according to the Robert Koch Institute. 

Voluntary measures

In surgeries and clinics, mask rules can remain in place on a voluntary basis – which some facilities said they would consider based on their individual situations. 

“Of course, practices can stipulate a further obligation to wear masks as part of their house rules, and likewise everyone can continue to wear a mask voluntarily,” the head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Andreas Gassen, told DPA.

But Gassen said it was good there would no longer be an “automatic obligation”, and that individuals could take the responsibility of protecting themselves and others into their own hands. 

READ ALSO: Is the pandemic over in Germany?

“Hospitals are used to establishing hygiene measures to protect their patients, even independently of the coronavirus,” the head of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, told DPA.

With the end of the last statutory Covid measures, he said, we are entering “a new phase” in dealing with this illness. 

“Hospitals will then decide individually according to the respective situation which measures they will take,” he said, for example based on the ages and illnesses of the patients being treated.