Germany plans to extend social distancing rules until July 5th

The German government aims to impose social distancing rules until at least July 5th to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control, according to a draft policy, in the face of a revolt by regional states.

Germany plans to extend social distancing rules until July 5th
People relaxing in a park in Munich on May 21st. Photo: DPA

The working paper from Chancellor Angela Merkel's office and viewed by AFP would extend by a month existing contact restrictions “to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres  (five feet)” between people and “require masks in certain public areas” such as supermarkets and buses.

According to the paper, the aim is to allow gatherings of 10 people in public, or meetings between people from two separate households.

Currently, people from two households are allowed to meet. That rule is in place up to and and including June 5th.

However, the government is still urging people to keep contact with other people low.

“The number of people with whom one has contact should be kept as low as possible and the group of people should be kept as constant as possible,” the paper states. This applies in particular to children, “for whom it must be assumed that distance and hygiene rules are not consistently implemented”.

Events and meetings that require hygiene plans are to be considered separately, according to the plans.

The hygiene and distance rules must also be implemented for private meetings at home in closed rooms, the paper states. The number of people should be measured “according to the possibility of adhering to the distance rule”, and “sufficient ventilation should be provided”.

Meanwhile, the federal government recommends “where possible, private meetings should be held outdoors, as there is a considerably lower risk of infection”.

Further contact restrictions should be imposed “where the regional dynamics of the infection situation so require”. The aim is then to “contain the outbreak” and prevent further infection clusters, says the draft resolution.

The social distancing policy, until now pursued in coordination with the federal government, comes as two eastern states, Thuringia and Saxony, announced a drastic opening up from June 6th in defiance of Berlin's guidelines.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.