The states have been discussing the Corona rules for December with Chancellor Merkel for several hours. Apparently there are initial agreements – for retail, for example. But there are still some controversial points.
Basically, the corona course is well defined by the federal and state governments for the winter. So people in Germany have to be prepared for more strict requirements in December, especially with regard to the number of contacts. Merkel and the country bosses have been advising via video conference since 2 p.m. At the summit, “no thought was given” about loosening, said NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet in advance with a view to the continued high number of infections.
Against crowds in shops
First agreements leaked out of the talks. Apparently there should be more stringent requirements for retailers. In order to avoid overcrowding, especially during the Christmas business, a maximum of one person should be allowed to stay in shops within ten square meters if the shop has a sales area of up to 800 square meters. In larger shops, from 801 square meters, only one person should be allowed to stay in 20 square meters. The federal government had initially called for a general limitation of one person to 25 square meters.
New strategy for hotspots
In addition, there should be a new hotspot strategy – this was requested by Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder, among others. If the so-called incidence exceeds 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, there should be additional restrictions. This includes additional regulations in the area of schools as well as further contact restrictions.
It seems beyond dispute that the partial lockdown, initially limited to the end of November, is expected to be extended nationwide until December 20. Gastronomy as well as leisure and cultural facilities will remain closed until then. It is unclear whether restaurants and hotels will be allowed to reopen over the holidays and the turn of the year. Presumably, however, they must remain closed: The bill notes that “comprehensive restrictions may also be required beyond the turn of the year”.
The contact restrictions are also likely to be tightened: Only a maximum of five people from two households should be allowed to meet – children under 14 years are not counted. Only Schleswig-Holstein wants to pull out and stick to the currently applicable contact rules.
Relaxation also on New Year’s Eve?
A little more personal encounters should be allowed nationwide on Christmas days. With a maximum of ten people, it should be over. How far such easing also apply on New Year’s Eve is still a matter of dispute. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Söder spoke out in favor of strict contact restrictions, including on New Year’s Eve – unlike most countries striving for. “Because Christmas is the feast of the family, New Year’s Eve is of course more the feast of friends,” he said ARD morning magazine. He would rather be more consistent over the turn of the year than over Christmas.
However, people should – if possible – avoid the traditional New Year’s gluttony. The use of pyrotechnics should be completely prohibited in busy squares and streets in order to avoid larger groups being formed – the federal and state governments agreed on this, according to information from the German press agency.
Earlier Christmas holidays
The beginning of the Christmas holidays is to be regulated largely uniformly this year due to the corona pandemic. They are supposed to start on December 19th. By starting the holidays on the weekend before the holidays, the contacts before Christmas should be reduced as much as possible, according to the draft. Only Bremen and Thuringia want to make individual regulations at the beginning of the holiday.
Bavaria wants mask compulsory in schools
Bavaria is also pressing for stricter measures for schools in Corona hotspots. “We need masks in schools – for the students, but also for the teachers.” In addition, in hotspots, especially in older grades, there must be a switch to a model of alternating teaching in order to reduce the density of school operations.
The Chancellery also called for stricter requirements for schools in hotspot regions. However, Merkel was initially unable to enforce this proposal at the previous meeting on November 16. School policy is a state matter, the federal government can only make suggestions.
NRW Prime Minister Laschet again promoted face-to-face teaching. “The kitchen table at home in a two- or three-room apartment is not the better place to learn. The best place to learn is school,” said the CDU politician.