Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Heads of Government of the 16 German Länder have decided to extend the lockdown until 28 March, despite great pressure from society to stop severe corona measures. The bitter pill is gilded for the population with a plan to ease the restrictive measures in five phases if there is a downward trend in coronac rates.
The easing plan will come into effect from next Monday, Merkel reported late on Wednesday evening in a press conference. The most significant contact restrictions are then eased slightly by allowing meetings indoors with people from another household to up to 5 people. In regions where, on average, less than 35 infections per 100,000 population have been detected in the last seven days, meetings with people from three households are also allowed up to a maximum of 10 people.
Previously it was already decided that the hairdressers can get back to work and that the schools in Germany will be reopened. In the second phase, bookshops, flower shops and garden centers should also follow. They have already been opened in some Länder, but the joint decision of Merkel and the Land Prime Ministers may soon be the case in the other Länder. However, hygiene measures and visitor ceilings will apply in the opened cases.
In regions where the number of infections has fallen below 100 per 100 000 inhabitants, museums, zoos and historical memorials may reopen, with advance booking and time slots. Sports outside the door is also allowed, alone or with the two. Children up to 14 years of age are allowed to play sports in groups.
The subsequent eases can take place if the situation does not deteriorate for two weeks. Then restaurants and cafes can welcome guests outside again, including cinemas, theatres and music venues. If the number of infections falls below 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last week, one does not need to book in advance.
Merkels plan and the Land Prime Ministers include an emergency brake on the easing when the number of infections rises above 100 per 100,000. The facilitation should be made possible by accelerating vaccination and making more tests available. For example, German citizens can get a free quick test every week after Sunday. The vaccination programme should be accelerated by allowing general practitioners to give pricks.
The discussion between Merkel and the Land Prime Ministers lasted much longer than planned due to disagreement over the conditions for easing. In the German system, the Länder determine to a large extent the coronation policy itself. The current lockdown will end on Sunday and a recent poll says that only 26% of the population are behind severe corona measures.