• S. Loesser

Easter 2021 in Germany: “We stay at home”

After another, seemingly heated, hours-long discussion between the Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel and the Länder heads of government, which included an official adjournment of several hours, Merkel, Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller and Bavaria’s Ministerpräsident (prime minister) Markus Söder announced the rules to be in force in the coming weeks, at 02:35 this morning.

Merkel summary of the summit’s results:

"For us, two generic terms are crucial: prudence and flexibility.”

Photo: © Bundesregierung 2021

The most important decisions at one glance:

1. The already existing decisions stay in force until 18 April.

2. The Notbremse (emergency break) which has been decided on during the last summit on 3 March [as Meuse-Rhine Gazette reported: "If the 7-day incidence rate per 100,000 residents rises to over 100 for three consecutive days in the Land or region, the rules that applied until 7 March will come into force again as of the subsequent working day."] must be consistently implemented.

3. Considering the exponential growth of the number of new infections, additional measures have to be taken. In Landkreisen (rural districts) with an incidence with rate of 100, these can be the following:

  • the obligation to wear medical masks as a fellow passenger, also in private cars, when the vehicle does not belong to the driver's household;

  • the obligation to make rapid tests available for those areas where maintaining distance and wearing face masks is difficult;

  • curfews;

  • stricter contact restrictions.

4. Considering the serious infection dynamics, Bund and Länder want to make use of the Easter holidays to break the third wave’s exponential growth through a stricter reduction of social contacts for several days. Therefore, 1 April (Holy Thursday) and 3 April (Saturday) will be defined as Ruhetage (closing days). This will be connected with a prohibition of assembly from 1 to 5 April, which is referred to as an “Erweiterte Ruhezeit zu Ostern” ("extended resting time at Easter"). During these days the principle #WirBleibenZuHause (#westayathome) applies and specifically:

  • private gatherings are allowed with one other household but restricted to a maximum of five people. Children up to 14 years of age are not included in this rule. Couples count as one household;

  • gatherings in public places are prohibited;

  • outdoor eating has to close during these days;

  • solely food retailing markets will be open that Saturday;

  • Bund and Länder will approach the religious communities with the request to hold religious meetings online during this period;

  • vaccination and test centres stay open.

5. Extensive testing will still be crucial after Easter. With the increasing availability of rapid and self-tests, comprehensive tests in schools and childcare centres are being implemented in the Länder. The aim is to tests employees in the educational system and in childcare centres twice per week as soon as possible.

6. In the Länder and individual regions, temporary model projects should be possible – with strict protective measures and a test concept – in order to open up individual areas of public life.

7. Businesses and companies should enable home office possibilities for their employees wherever possible. Wherever this is not possible, respective test offers should be available. The tests should be offered to employees who do not work from home at least once a week and, if available, twice a week, and should also be certified.

8. The Bundesregierung will develop a supplementary aid instrument within the framework of European law for companies that are particularly severely affected by the corona pandemic and have been affected by closures for a very long period of time.

9. Bund and Länder continue to urge all residents to refrain from non-essential travel in Germany and abroad – also with regard to the upcoming Easter holidays.

  • Bund and Länder strongly refer to the registration in the Digitale Einreiseanmeldung (digital entry declaration), when entering Germany from a risk area.

  • A quarantine obligation for a period of 10 days after return remains valid. An early termination of the quarantine is only possible with a negative test taken on the fifth day after entry at the earliest.

  • Due to the longer duration of infection of virus variants which has now been described in many cases, since 8 March, this does not apply to return journeys from virus variant areas. In these cases, a quarantine of 14 days must be strictly observed.

  • In addition, when returning from virus-variant areas, restricted transport options are to be expected.

  • Bund and Länder expect all airlines to consistently test crews and passengers before the return flight and not to extend flight offers during the Easter holidays.

10. With the vaccinations in old people's and nursing homes, among other things, visiting possibilities can be expanded, with consistent implementation of hygiene and testing concepts.

The Bundeskanzlerin and the Regierungschefinnen und Regierungschefs der Länder (federal states' heads of government) will consult again on 12 April 2021 in the light of further infection developments.

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