Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Germany ease additional COVID-19 restrictions nationwide from May 6. Social distancing rules to remain in place.

This alert affects Germany

This alert began 06 May 2020 22:27 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities in Germany announced May 6 that they would ease additional general restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) but could introduce new preventive measures if there is an increase in the number of infections. Germany's states will decide on the time and scale of relaxing restrictions on businesses. Additionally, all restrictions on shops will be lifted and they are allowed to reopen nationwide. However, residents are required to observe the country's social distancing guidelines and wear face masks while in public. The state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has announced that it will reopen restaurants and cafes, May 8, while Bavaria plans to reopen restaurants, May 18.

German authorities previously eased certain COVID-related restrictions May 1, including:

  • Reopening of gardens, playgrounds, zoos, and museums.
  • Reopening of houses of worship for service.

Measures that remain in place are as follows:

  • Individuals are required to observe social distancing by remaining at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart.
  • Many nonessential businesses, as well as entertainment and cultural venues, are closed.
  • Restaurants in most states will be restricted to carry-out or delivery services only.

Since April 20, authorities have allowed the reopening of stores with a sales area of ​​up to 800 square meters (8600 square feet). Car dealers and bookstores are allowed to reopen without any restrictions.

Authorities had previously extended temporary entry and exit restrictions at the country's land, air, and sea borders. Furthermore, a number of land border crossings have been closed to funnel travelers to specific crossings where officials can carry out checks more effectively. Authorities will deny entry to individuals without a necessary reason for travel; travelers should bring evidence of valid travel reasons to present upon arrival. Valid reasons for travel include nationals and residents returning home, cross-border commuters, and freight transport. Processing delays at checkpoints are likely. Individuals returning or traveling to Germany are required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Germany are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel plans and business appointments. Carry proper identification and other necessary travel documents to present at security checks. Plan for processing delays if traveling or routing freight across German borders. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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