Tourists told to leave northern German state ahead of shutdown

Tourists have been told to pack their bags and leave Schleswig-Holstein by Monday November 2nd as Germany is set to go into a partial lockdown.

Tourists told to leave northern German state ahead of shutdown
Westerland, a seaside resort located on the German North Sea island of Sylt. Photo: DPA

For holidaymakers on the North Sea islands and the Halligen, there is an extended deadline – non-residents have to leave by November 5th so the capacity of ferry traffic is not overloaded, the state government announced in Kiel on Friday.

The government made the statement following decisions taken by the federal and state governments for a partial lockdown, which will start on Monday, November 2nd and will last four weeks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state leaders decided that “overnight accommodation in Germany will only be made available for “necessary and explicitly non-tourist purposes” during the partial lockdown.

In Schleswig-Holstein, with a few exceptions, stays in hotels, guesthouses and holiday homes will no longer be offered for the next four weeks.

But accommodation for professional (eg business trips) or social-ethical reasons (eg burial or terminal care) as well as for medical purposes such as accompanying children during a hospital stay will continue to be permitted, a government spokesperson explained.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus shutdown – can I travel within Germany in November?

Tourist favourite – but with strict rules

The northernmost state of Germany is known for the beauty of its coastline and islands such as Sylt, which attracted people from all over the country and beyond.

But it has been in the spotlight in recent weeks due to having some of the strictest rules in Germany when it comes to controlling coronavirus. 

The state banned people from certain 'hotspot' districts in Berlin instead of viewing the capital as one area. But these rules were overturned after an outcry.

It highlighted the issue of states having different internal travel restrictions, causing confusion for people in Germany.

As The Local has been reporting, states around Germany are currently meeting to enforce the measures agreed by Merkel and the state leaders.

Although states are following the regulations, there may be slight differences. For example, Bavaria is opting for tighter rules on private gatherings.

The shutdown will take place from November 2nd until November 30th.


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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.”