“We need to be extremely careful”
The numbers of new COVID-19 cases are dropping tangibly. At the same time, however, more infectious variants of the virus are spreading. Against the background of this two-pronged trend, the Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder currently in place to contain the pandemic, while outlining prospects.
In terms of the decline in the number of new cases, we can be “very pleased”, stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday after her video conference with the Heads of Government of the Länder. She warned, however, that we still need to be careful. The mutations could set in motion a third wave “which we would have to tackle”. The period from now until mid-March will be “vitally important”, declared Angela Merkel. In view of the rapidly spreading new variants, the numbers of new cases must be pushed down further in the coming weeks, she said.
COVID-19 regulations remain in place
The contact restrictions currently in place will be extended until 7 March. The principle “We’re staying at home” remains the main weapon in the war on the pandemic, also in view of the new risk factor posed by mutations. This means that private gatherings will continue to be allowed only with members of one’s own household and a maximum of one person from another household. It is mandatory to wear surgical masks or KN95 or FFP2 masks when using public transport and in shops. Employers must enable their staff to work from home wherever possible. Non-essential private travel or visits should be avoided.
The way forward
Looking ahead to the coming weeks and months, the Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder agreed the following:
- Childcare facilities and schools: There are now new prospects for childcare facilities and schools. The individual Länder will decide how and when they return to in-person teaching and to regular childcare – gradually and in line with hygiene regulations. The option of vaccinating primary school and nursery teachers sooner, by putting them in a higher priority group, is also to be explored. Angela Merkel stressed that these are occupations where it is impossible to maintain the necessary distancing.
- Hairdressers may open: As of 1 March, hairdressers will be allowed to open again – naturally subject to hygiene rules including the wearing of medical masks. Large sections of the population, especially elderly people, depend on the services provided by hairdressers.
- Further openings: There are also prospects for other branches. If a stable seven-day incidence no higher than 35 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants is attained, the Länder can take the next steps towards easing. The retail trade should be allowed to open, while limiting customer numbers to one customer per 20 square metres. This would also apply to museums and galleries, and personal care service providers.
- Regional regulations where case numbers are high: In Länder or districts where the seven-day incidence remains higher than 50, extensive local or regional measures will be upheld or extended by the Länder or district authorities.
The Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder will consult again on 3 March.
Read the latest Decision of the Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder, dated 10 February 2021.
Here you will find the previous Decision of the Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder, dated 19 January 2021.