Germany extends and tightens lockdown
Updated: Jan 6
That the Germany-wide lockdown, which was initially stated to be in place until 10 January, would be extended did not come as a surprise for many. News of an agreement between most of the leading German politicians was leaked prior to any official announcement. On Tuesday 5 January, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel and the heads of government met for another Covid-19 summit during which the further run of events would be discussed. According to Die Bundesregierung, the following has been agreed by all states in Germany:
Photo: © Bundesregierung/Denzel
The hitherto agreed upon decisions of the Bundeskanzlerin and the federal states’ heads of government remain valid. All measures that were initially stated to be in place until 10 January 2021, and which are based on joint resolutions, will be extended by the federal states in their respective state regulations until 31 January 2021. The Bundeskanzlerin and the heads of government of the federal states urge all residents to keep all contacts to an absolute minimum in the next three weeks and to stay at home as far as possible.
Private meetings are only allowed with one household and one extra person of another household.
Staff canteens have to be closed wherever the workflow allows it. Take-away is allowed. On-site consumption is forbidden.
Employers are urgently asked to create home-office-possibilities in order to implement the nationwide principle “Wir bleiben zuhause” (“We stay at home”).
In Landkreisen (administrative districts) with a Sieben-Tage-Inzidenz (seven-day incidence rate) of more than 200 the federal states will adopt further local measures according to the Infektionsschutzgesetz (Infection Protection Act), particularly in order to limit the radius of movement to 15km around the respective place of residence, as far as no sound reason exists. Tourist trips, even if only for a day, are not sound reasons.
In retirement and nursing homes, special safety measures have to be taken. Therefore, on the basis of the resolution of 13 December 2020, the federal states have ordered mandatory testing several times a week for staff in such facilities as well as for visitors in regions with higher incidence rates. Although the accounting for both the purchase and carrying out of rapid testing is facilitated via the federal test ordinance, in many cases, the facilities do not have the personnel capacities to carry out such rapid tests on site. That is why the Bund (the government) and the federal states will start a joint initiative based on existing measures in order to temporarily bring volunteers to the facilities to carry out extensive rapid tests. The aid agencies in Germany have already agreed to take over the relevant training. Also the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (the governmental agency for employment) will support the placement. This initiative is also intended to support integration assistance institutions.
The Robert-Koch-Institut - RKI carefully checks the reports on new mutations with changed properties of the virus, for example with regard to an increased risk of infection or the severity of the disease process in different age groups. The Bundesministerium der Gesundheit (Federal Ministry of Health) will issue a regulation on the basis of the Dritte Bevölkerungsschutzgesetzes (Third Civil Protection Act) for increased sequencing. In case of unavoidable entries from areas in which such mutated virus variants occur, the federal police will increasingly monitor abidance with the special entry regulations. The federal states ensure that the scrutiny of the quarantine rules in such cases is also given special priority, as is the follow-up of cases when such virus variants occur in Germany.
All residents of stationary care facilities will be offered vaccinations until mid-February. The Bund aims at increasing the initially limited production capacities of vaccines. Therefore, the Bund and the federal state of Hessen are supporting BionTech so that production can be approved and started in February in a newly set up plant in Marburg. Furthermore, the Bund will also discuss with manufacturers about how further production capacities for vaccines can be built up as quickly as possible. In the first quarter of 2021, the approval of further vaccines and, as a result, the delivery of further vaccine doses can be expected.
The lockdown of childcare facilities and schools is also extended until 31 January.
The Bund will regulate by law that Kinderkrankengeld (child sickness benefit) will be granted for 10 additional days per parent (20 additional days for single parents) in 2021. The entitlement should also apply in cases in which the child needs to be looked after at home because the school or kindergarten or the class or group is closed due to the pandemic, or because classroom attendance has been suspended or access to childcare has been restricted.
According to the Überbrückungshilfe III (interim aid), depending on the decline in sales and the extent to which they are affected, a certain percentage of commercial businesses the fixed costs is reimbursed up to a maximum of €500,000 per month. Instalment payments are made possible. The federal states will make the first regular payments as part of the Überbrückungshilfe III, which will run until the end of June 2021, in the first quarter of 2021.
When entering Germany from risk areas, in addition to the existing ten-day quarantine obligation, which can be terminated prematurely as soon as a negative test result of a Covid-19 test taken no earlier than on the fifth day of quarantine, an additional test requirement should be introduced upon entry (two-test strategy). The test obligation upon entry can be met by testing within 48 hours prior to arrival or by testing immediately after entry. The model quarantine ordinance will be adapted accordingly and implemented by the federal states in their respective ordinances on 11 January, 2021. In addition to the compulsory testing that has existed since August 2020, the Bund will issue separate rules on the basis of the Dritte Bevölkerungsschutzgesetz, in particular on compulsory testing before entry from areas of which there is a particular risk of entry due to the spread of mutations of the virus or particularly high incidences.
On 25 January, the Bundeskanzlerin and the federal states’ heads of government will meet again and discuss the measures from 1 February onward.