Schools can be bought wholesale

What is left open and what is not? : These lockdown rules apply in Germany and Berlin

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the prime ministers of the federal states only needed a good hour on Sunday to get the hard lockdown on the way - starting on December 16. It should last until January 10th.

But if the measures do not reduce the number of infections significantly enough, an extension cannot be ruled out. On January 5th there is to be another federal-state round. The states can adapt the nationwide rules for themselves, the Berlin Senate met on Sunday afternoon. Here are the resolutions and their effects in detail.

What about the measures already in place?

They will be extended until January 10th - especially the closure of the catering trade (with the exception of takeaway sales) and the cultural, sports and leisure facilities. Food sold out-of-home may no longer be consumed on site in order to avoid accumulation.

In addition, the consumption of alcohol outdoors is prohibited for the entire lockdown period until January 10th. Violations are fined. In Berlin, serving and selling alcohol between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. are prohibited. The sale of alcohol for immediate consumption, for example mulled wine, is forbidden all day. On New Year's Eve, alcohol sales are generally prohibited from 2 p.m. until 6 a.m.

How heavily are private meetings regulated?

Private gatherings are limited to five people over the age of 14 from two households. Children are excluded. On Christmas days from December 24th to 26th, the federal states can lift the restriction to two households.

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Instead, meetings with up to four people outside of your own household will be possible, not including those under 14. This applies to people from the closest family circle, spouses, civil partners, illegitimate unions, siblings, their children plus household members and for "straight relatives".

Berlin had already announced that it would limit contacts to five people over Christmas and will lift the restriction to two households in line with the nationwide regulation. The additional appeal is "to reduce contacts in the five to seven days before family reunions to an absolute minimum" - there is thus de facto a partial quarantine before a family reunion.

What about New Year's Eve?

There will be a nationwide gathering and assembly ban on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. In addition, there is a ban on fireworks in all “public” places determined by the municipalities.

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De facto, however, the firecrackers should generally be prevented by banning the sale of pyrotechnics before New Year's Eve. Should wholesale chains that are still open offer pyrotechnics, this must be cleared from the shelves by Wednesday.

Igniting fireworks is strongly discouraged when fireworks are still available. In Berlin there will be no other firecrackers ban zones than the two known ones in Schöneberger Pallasstraße and in the northern area of ​​Alexanderplatz.

What are the rules in retail?

The retail sector largely closes its doors on December 16. Exceptions are all shops for daily needs, i.e. the retail trade for groceries, weekly markets for groceries, direct sellers of groceries, pick-up and delivery services, beverage stores, health food stores, baby specialty stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, opticians, hearing aid acousticians, gas stations, car workshops Bicycle workshops, banks and savings banks. Shops for tobacco products, newspapers, stationery, books and pet supplies will also remain open.

All other shops and markets will close until January 10th. Christmas tree markets can remain open. Christmas markets, flea or art markets are prohibited. Berlin will largely follow the rules of the first lockdown in spring. Bookstores remain open. This also applies to commercial craft supplies and wholesalers. Construction and furniture stores have to close. The zoo and animal park, however, remain open.

What about hairdressing salons and similar services?

Body-close services must also close - hairdressing salons, massage practices, tattoo studios and similar businesses. Medically oriented practices such as podiatry or physiotherapists can open.

How does it affect schools and daycare centers?

The Berlin daycare centers will not close from Wednesday, but will offer emergency care. The Senate urges all parents to only bring their children to daycare if it is absolutely necessary. The daycare centers are closed anyway between Christmas and New Year. First of all, it was said that the Berlin daycare centers - in deviation from the federal-state resolution - should remain open, combined with an urgent appeal to parents to look after their children at home as far as possible. The education administration corrected this later and changed the "care" to "emergency care".

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The schools in Berlin will be closed from next Wednesday for face-to-face teaching until January 10th. Emergency care for the primary level as well as distance learning are offered. Schools should still be able to carry out class work that has already been scheduled before Christmas. This is decided by the respective teacher. Exams will take place.

What is expected of companies?

Companies should, where possible, either take company holidays or offer their employees generous home office solutions in the period up to January 10th. However, this is not a requirement, but a request.

How are services restricted?

Church services are permitted subject to conditions such as minimum distance, mask requirement and waiver of singing. Registration may be required for visitors.

What applies to retirement and nursing homes?

Protective measures are being increased in old people's and nursing homes. In Berlin, two million tests were distributed to nursing homes. The nursing staff is obliged to have themselves tested regularly. Visitors to Berlin nursing homes should also have a current negative corona test or be tested on site.

Will travel be restricted?

Travel is not prohibited, but an appeal is made to stop unnecessary domestic and international travel. The quarantine regulation for entries from risk areas remains. It amounts to ten days of quarantine, which can be ended after five days with a negative test.

How are affected companies supported?

The financial support for closed companies and for affected self-employed will be expanded. The new bridging aid already decided by the federal government to cover fixed costs, which is planned until June 2021, will therefore be increased to a maximum of 500,000 euros per company per month.

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As a rule, however, the reimbursement amount is up to EUR 200,000. The reimbursement of fixed costs should also be based on the decline in sales compared to 2019. Companies that are only indirectly affected by the closings and therefore have less income should be able to apply for money. The cost of this is put at around eleven billion euros per month. Scholz pointed out that the budget for 2021 includes a total of more than 60 billion euros for funds that have been approved and may still be approved.

Loss of value in goods should be able to be absorbed by special depreciation rules. To relieve the burden on rents and leases, a regulation is introduced according to which the restrictions can represent a serious change in the basis of business. This would make reductions possible for tenants and tenants.

How is retail reacting?

At no time do retailers earn as much as they did in the days leading up to Christmas. The trade association (HDE) now estimates that sales will collapse by 60 percent due to the lockdown in December. Business owners would have to forego a total of twelve billion euros in income.

Exceptions to this bill are the grocers who will be open. “The fact that many retailers now have to close in the middle of the Christmas business, the time of the year with the highest turnover, hits the industry and the city centers hard,” says HDE Managing Director Stefan Genth.

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In his opinion, the bridging aid that the federal government has promised is insufficient. They only cover the fixed costs such as rent. Genth, on the other hand, demands that the retailers also be compensated for part of their sales - as is currently the case with the catering trade. "If we force the core industry of our city centers largely into bankruptcy with retail, it will not be easy to fix after the crisis," said Genth.

What are the economic consequences of the ban on firecrackers?

The manufacturers of firecrackers and rockets are also afraid of bankruptcy. In case of doubt, the entire branch is threatened with bankruptcy, explained Thomas Schreiber, head of the Association of the Pyrotechnic Industry. The association demands full compensation for the sales losses in the three-digit million range.

Since the industry generates 95 percent of its annual revenues in December, association lawyers feared that companies would miss out on bridging aid. "We need separate aid funds to secure the 3,000 individual livelihoods in the industry," explained Schreiber. What exacerbates the situation: Fireworks are a commission business. The trade does not have to pay for the rockets and firecrackers that they have ordered and are now not allowed to sell. Only the manufacturers have the damage.

How do economists rate the measures?

Leading economists support the measures. Ifo President Clemens Fuest tweeted: "The hard lockdown is also economically correct because many companies and schools are closed over Christmas anyway." The lockdown can be understood as an investment. "Without him there is a risk of an even harder and longer lockdown from mid-January," said Fuest.

Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), also considers the shutdown to be “right and overdue”. He says: "Politicians now have to create a high level of acceptance for this to stop the second wave, because a shutdown beyond January 10th would cause considerable economic damage."

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