It’s the time of year when I’d like nothing more than to be talking about Christmas Markets and holiday celebrations all over Europe. But we can’t ignore the elephant in the room; Germany’s COVID statistics are off the wall, and she is pleading for our help over the coming month to keep it from getting worse.
If you are affiliated with the US Military, there’s a good chance you are receiving adequate info from your command, but if you’re relying on the Facebook Town Hall sessions, those never allocate enough time to answer everyone’s questions.
Since we have gone from the springtime serious lockdown, to a lockdown light last month, and now a more-severe lockdown, many people are confused by differences in the restrictions. Rather than to get fined for standing at the Bahnhof unmasked (assuming you only need your mask ON THE TRAIN) or refraining from outdoor exercise because you don’t know the rules, it might be helpful to know where to get the information.
If you have seen most of this, and still have questions, please scroll to the bottom where there’s a link that will answer all your questions, no matter where you live in Germany. Yes, some German states have different rules, and some areas in Germany are considered “hotspots” where a totally different set of rules apply! They can all be accessed via the link at the bottom
This article is taken directly from TheLocal.de. This publication is well worth the minimal subscription cost; they will email your daily news updates in ENGLISH!!! I can’t say enough good about them!! Another great news source (in ENGLISH) is DW.com. I don’t believe there is ANY cost associated with their online publication and they have a Facebook page as well.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of Germany's 16 states met on Sunday morning for an emergency meeting due to the deteriorating coronavirus situation.
They agreed on tougher lockdown measures to be put in place from Wednesday December 16th until at least January 10th. They include shop, hairdresser and school closures as well as a ban on the sale of fireworks on New Year's Eve and drinking alcohol in public. There are also changes to the Christmas rules.
German states are free to put in place stricter measures depending on infection rates. For example, Bavaria has put place a night-time curfew from 9pm to 5am. Here's a Rundown of the Measures:
CHRISTMAS: private gatherings indoors and outdoors are limited to a maximum of five people from two households (not including those who are under 14).
During the Christmas period, from December 24th to 26th, the states can relax this rule slightly – by allowing a household to invite four people who belong to the "immediate family circle" (plus children under 14 who are not counted in the total) to join them – even if this is more than two households.
According to the final paper, "immediate family" includes: "spouses, partners and partners in a non-marital partnership as well as siblings, sibling's children and their respective household members". States are expected to draw up the final rules on this depending on the infection situation there.
Merkel, however, pleaded for a "protection week": before family reunions, contacts should be reduced to the absolute minimum for five to seven days.
The government and states had previously agreed to allow a maximum of 10 people to meet (without a limit on households) from December 23rd to January 1st. This is not the case anymore.
NEW YEAR'S EVE FIREWORKS BAN: On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there will be a nationwide ban on gatherings.
Merkel and the states have also now decided that there will be general a ban on the sale of fireworks this year. Setting off fireworks will not be banned but authorities are asking that people refrain from doing so.
Local governments will also ban fireworks in certain public places.
SHOPS TO CLOSE: Non-essential retailers will have to close their doors from December 16th under the plans.
All shops for daily needs, i.e. supermarkets and drugstores, as well as pharmacies, medical supply stores and banks will be exempt. Petrol stations and garages will also be allowed to open, as will post offices, launderettes and dry cleaners. All other shops will be ordered to close until January 10th. Christmas tree markets can remain open.
HAIRDRESSERS Personal services like hairdressers, beauty salons and tattoo parlous will have to be closed until January 10th. Hairdressers have been allowed to remain open up until this point, but not under these tougher measures.
SCHOOLS: Schools and childcare centers are also to close from Wednesday, which is earlier than planned. Emergency care is to be offered, though. All in all, this means that the Christmas holidays will be extended everywhere from December 16th to January 10th. Schools can choose to offer lessons online.
The Chancellor's Office had already discussed this action at the end of November, but the measure failed to be put in place due to opposition from the majority of the states.
CURRENT CLOSURES REMAIN: Unsurprisingly, the measures already in place, including closed restaurants, bars, cafes, cultural and leisure facilities, are to be extended until January 10th. Restaurants can still offer takeaway services.
Germany has been struggling to bring down the number of cases since the partial lockdown was put in place on November 2nd.
The below chart Control, shows the daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases in Germany during the second wave compared to other European countries.
BAN ON ALCOHOL: There will be a ban on alcohol consumption in public places. Recently, there had been concerns about people gathering to drink at Glühwein (mulled wine) stands which have popped up across Germany.
COMPANIES URGED TO CLOSE: Wherever possible, companies should either grant holidays or offer generous working from home solutions until January 10th. However, this is not a regulation, it's a request.
NO SINGING AT RELIGIOUS SERVICES: Church services are permitted, but subject to conditions such as distance, mandatory masks and no singing allowed.
APPEAL NOT TO TRAVEL: Travel will not be banned, but an appeal is being made to the public to refrain from non-essential domestic and international travel.
The quarantine rule for arrivals from foreign risk areas remains in place. People who arrive from a risk zone have to quarantine for 10 days, but this can be ended with a negative coronavirus test after five days at the earliest. The test is no longer free for people arriving from risk zones.
If you want to know what rules apply to your region, please click here and make sure your translation program is activated. It will provide state-specific details and FAQ’s (VERY INFORMATIVE!!)
While it sounds like it could be quite a while before the vaccines are available to everyone (Germany is saying Fall 2021!!), but at least we now have light at the end of this tunnel! 2020 has been brutal, and 2021 isn’t likely to be a major improvement right out of the shoot, but if we want to be talking about Christmas Markets and European holiday celebrations at this time next year, let’s be aware of (and abide by) the rules that are in place right now!
" My personal sentiment is that holiday decorations are needed more this year than ever before! For the family whose spirits are as low as yours, for kids who are just happy to have a family to be home with, and for the hope that 2021 will usher in”
And for those of you who are lacking holiday spirit due to 2020, and don’t feel like decorating a tree or hanging a wreath, my personal sentiment is that they are needed more this year than ever before! For the family whose spirits are as low as yours, for kids who are just happy to have a family to be home with, and for the hope that 2021 will usher in.
And since we are all going to be locked in with family for the next month, there’s still time to think of creative ways to really enjoy it!