First German state ends coronavirus social distancing requirements

First German state ends coronavirus social distancing requirements
Outdoor diners in Apolda, Thuringia on May 15th. Photo: DPA
The east German state of Thuringia will be the first in Germany to scrap social distancing requirements put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

A new order was approved by the state cabinet Tuesday and is set to go into effect on Saturday, June 13th.

It will then no longer be a requirement that only two households, or a maximum of 10 people, can meet – and instead will be a recommendation.

Germany's federal and 16 state governments had originally agreed to extend the contact restrictions until June 29th, yet several states have already relaxed the rules. 

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Face masks will remain mandatory in shops and on public transportation. However, the new rule will allow even more facilities to reopen. 

They will include indoor swimming and leisure pools, as well as spas, saunas and cinemas, as long as their infection control plans are first approved by the state government.

Village festivals and funfairs will be permitted again in individual cases. However, the new regulation states that festivals “particularly suitable to promote the spread of the pandemic” will not be approved.

Brothels, disco and swingers clubs will remain closed. State-supported theatres and orchestras are not to resume their performances until after August 31st, when the German-wide ban on large events is slated to end. 

Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow (of Die Linke/The Left) had already spoken out in favour of a new strategy at the end of May, according to which there should no longer be any coronavirus restrictions, but rather local rules to be decided on by municipalities. 

Ramelow’s proposal faced criticism from those who feared the sudden relaxation could lead to an uptick in case numbers.

Yet it was also met with approval, with some arguing that the state has shown very few new cases and voluntary measures could keep the virus from spreading.

In the last seven days, Thuringia has reported 72 coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and has reported 3,100 overall.

READ ALSO: First German state set to end coronavirus restrictions in early June

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