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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Is the pandemic over in Germany?

As much of Germany lifts - or prepares to lift - the last remaining Covid-19 measures, intensive care units say Covid-19 admissions are no longer straining the system.

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Despite a difficult winter of respiratory illnesses, intensive care units in Germany say Covid-19 admissions have almost halved. The number of cases having to be treated in the ICU has gone down to 800 from 1,500 at the beginning of this month.

“Corona is no longer a problem in intensive care units,” Gernot Marx, Vice President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the German Editorial Network. “A the moment, we don’t have to think every day about how to still ensure the care of patients, but how to actually run a service that can help.”

Marx said the drop has allowed them to catch up on many postponed surgeries.

The number of sick employees in hospitals is also falling, helping to relieve the pressure on personnel.

The easing pressure on hospitals correlates with the assessment of prominent virologist and head of the Virology department at Berlin’s Charite – Christian Drosten – who said in December that the pandemic was close to ending, with the winter wave being an endemic one.

German federal and state governments are now in the midst of lifting the last of the country’s pandemic-related restrictions. Free Covid-19 antigen tests for most people, with exceptions for medical personnel, recently ended.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

Six federal states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein – have ended mandatory isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, and Schleswig-Holstein have ended the requirement to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, while Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will follow suit on February 2nd.

At that time, the federal government will also drop its requirement for masks to be worn on long-distance trains. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says that’s when he also intends to exempt workplaces – apart from medical locations – from a mask requirement.

READ ALSO: Germany to drop mask mandate in trains and buses from February 2nd

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will also end the requirement for patients to wear a mask in doctor’s offices. That’s a requirement that, so far, will stay in place everywhere else. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has also said that he thinks this requirement should remain. 

But some public health insurers and general practitioners are calling for a nationwide end to the obligation for wearing masks in doctor’s offices.

“The pandemic situation is over,” National Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KBV) Chair Andreas Gassen told the RND network. “High-risk patients aren’t treated in all practices. It should generally be left up to medical colleagues to decide whether they want to require masks in their practices.”