When can we visit museums? Will rapid testing be used? How many friends can we meet from March 8? We break down the timeline for reopening.
Germany’s federal government has announced a staggered relaxation of lockdown restrictions over the next few weeks. The gradual easing will depend on the latest incidence rates, with many measures only possible once the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants remains below 50 for seven consecutive days. Berlin’s incidence rate is currently 67.8.
When will museum visits be possible again? Will rapid testing be used? How many friends can we meet from March 8? We break down the relaxation timeline.
Step 1 – Since March 1: Schools and hairdressers
Throughout lockdown, bookstores, zoos, weekly markets, drugstores, bike shops, pharmacies, supermarkets, pet shops and launderettes remained open in Berlin, albeit with hygiene restrictions in place.
Since March 1, schools, with individual regulations per federal state, have also been allowed to open. Berlin wants to allow face-to-face teaching for all primary school classes from March 9. In general, day-care centres and hairdressers are also now open.
Step 2 – From March 8: More contacts, some shops, beauty treatmentsNot dependent on incidence rate:
Contact limits remain strict, but will be relaxed slightly. From March 8, five people from two households can meet, with children under 14 not counted. Previously, one household was allowed to meet with one other person.
Some Körpernahe Dienstleistungen (‘body-related services’) – massages for non-health reasons and mani/pedicures, for example – will be allowed to open again on a limited basis until daily testing can be implemented. Driving schools are also set to reopen.
At least one free rapid test per week will be available for all residents of Germany starting March 8
Step 3 – From March 8: Shops, museums, sportsDependent on incidence rate:50-100
Retail – Shopping by appointment with one customer per 40 square metres.
Museums, galleries, botanical gardens, and memorials – with an appointment
Sports – individual sports, or maximum of five people from two households (or maximum of 20 children)
Retail – 1 customer per 10 or 20 square feet (depending on the retail area)
Museums, galleries, botanical gardens, and memorials – Unrestricted opening
Sport – Outside, up to ten people can participate in non-contact sports
Step 4 – From March 22 at the earliest: Outdoor restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sportsUPDATE: Due to Due to rising case numbers, virus mutations and the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccinations, the Berlin Senat has agreed to cancel any further lockdown easing. This means that school grades seven through nine won’t return to face-to-face classes before the Easter break as planned. [More information here.]
The next step is even more complicated: it will only be implemented when the previous incidence-dependent step (March 8 at the earliest) has actually occurred – and only once when the infection figures have been stable for a fortnight.
Below 50 unrestricted; 50-100 with daily self-testing or rapid testing:
theatres, cinemas, concert halls, opera houses
Sports (non-contact indoor sports, contact sports are allowed outdoors)
Step 5 – From April 5 at the earliest: Events, sports, more customers
Once again, this step only applies once the previous step has occurred. This means that it could also be pushed much further into the future if there are delays in the previous stage.
Retail – 1 customer per 10 or 20 square feet of retail space (up to this point, an incidence of less than 50 would have been required)
Sports – non-contact indoor, contact outdoor
Outdoor recreational events with up to 50 participants will be permitted
Until the end of April: Home office
The government is urging employers to allow their employees to continue to work from home, if possible, until the end of April.
What else will be possible – and when – will be decided on March 22. Attention will turn to indoor dining and catering, further cultural options, events, travel and hotels. Decisions will then also be made in connection with vaccination progress and test availability.
Restrictions and retractions
If the incidence rate rises above 100 and remains at a high level, relaxations will be reversed. The federal states, including Berlin, have room for manoeuvre – these are the joint decisions of the federal government with the states. Chancellor Angela Merkel had pushed for significantly tougher measures, according to media reports.