Hard Lockdown in Germany during the winter holidays: travel is restricted and non-essential businesses are closed

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The federal and state governments have adopted a number of additional measures, so that from 16 December 2020 until 10 January 2021 a strict general quarantine regime ("hard lockdown").

Germany will enter a general deadlock during the winter holidays due to the large number of deaths and infections reported with the new coronavirus. Up to 20 new cases and 000 deaths from COVID-321 have been reported in the past 19 hours.

Among the most important measures adopted and entered into force are:

  • reducing to the absolute minimum the social contacts with people from outside the household;
  • in public spaces it is allowed to meet a maximum of 10 people from at most 2 households;
  • private meetings with friends, relatives and acquaintances must be limited to one's own household and at most one other household, but in any case to a maximum of 5 people; children up to the age of 14 are not included in the maximum number allowed;
  • Christmas: depending on the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections, the Länder may set exceptions for the period 24 December to 26 December 2020, so that up to 4 additional family members from close family in other households - even if the aforementioned limits of 2 households / 5 persons are exceeded;  
  • in the evening / night of December 31 / January 1 (New Year) public meetings are prohibited throughout Germany; the use of fireworks in public places as well as the sale of pyrotechnic products before New Year's Eve is prohibited;
  • retail trade is no longer permitted, except for food and goods necessary for daily living; shops selling such products may remain open, provided that hygiene measures are observed, access is controlled and queues are avoided;
  • personal care services such as hairdressing, cosmetics, massage, tattoo studios and the like will be closed. Medically necessary treatments, for example physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, podiatry, etc. are still allowed;

Schools and kindergartens are closing

  • schools and kindergartens must significantly restrict contacts: the obligation to attend them is suspended, only emergency care is provided, distance learning is provided and parents are given additional opportunities to take paid leave for childcare;
  • employers must reduce professional contacts to a minimum, either by taking leave or moving to extended home office
  • restaurants, pubs and bars remain closed, with only home delivery or pick-up orders allowed; it is forbidden to eat food on the spot. It is also forbidden to consume alcoholic beverages in public places;
  • religious services in churches, synagogues and mosques, as well as meetings of other religious communities are possible only under certain conditions which are established by the Federal Ministry of the Interior together with the religious communities concerned;
  • citizens are required to give up travel and private visits that are not absolutely necessary. The application applies to both external and internal travel, even for day trips within Germany. Accommodation is also possible only in well-founded and obviously non-tourist situations;

Institutions and facilities for recreational and entertainment activities remain closed

  • institutions and facilities for recreational and entertainment activities remain closed: theaters, operas, concert halls and similar institutions; trade fairs, cinemas, amusement parks and leisure providers (indoor and outdoor), casinos, betting shops and similar facilities; leisure sports in all public and private facilities, including fitness studios, swimming pools, saunas and thermal baths, etc.
  • the federal government and the states will intensify controls to ensure compliance with the measures taken, including through unannounced controls, especially in border areas.
  • It is mandatory to wear a protective mask in public transport and in shops, as well as compliance with hygiene rules and maintaining the social distance (1,5 m) in public space; the mask must be worn even in public areas where it is not possible to keep the minimum recommended distance. Failure to comply with this obligation is punishable by a fine of at least EUR 50.

Unfortunately, Germany is "barricading" the holidays and discourages any non-essential travel. The famous Christmas markets are closed to the disappointment of the little ones and the despair of the traders. The shopping season ends much earlier due to these restrictions, which took traders from all economic sectors by surprise.

Romanian citizens, as well as other citizens of EU member states, no actual restrictions apply to them as regards entry into German territory. The German authorities, on the other hand, a number of specific obligations in a pandemic context, especially for people coming from risk areas. Germany has launched an online portal announcing the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in each state.

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