Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities lift lockdown of Gutersloh District, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, July 7, amid general easing of COVID-19 measures.

  • Alert Begins: 07 Jul 2020 03:15 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 14 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Local authorities lifted a localized stay-at-home order in Gutersloh District, North Rhine-Westphalia, July 7, that was imposed in response to a local outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As with elsewhere in Germany, kindergartens, restaurants, and other nonessential businesses are now permitted to reopen and up to 10 people are able to congregate outside.

Germany has lifted entry restrictions on travelers from all EU countries, except Sweden; arrivals from Sweden are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Travelers from non-EU countries, with the exception of Australia, Georgia, Canada, Montenegro, New Zealand, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay, remain subject to restrictions, including a mandatory 14-day self-isolation if arriving from a location of high COVID-19 activity.

Authorities have eased almost all other internal COVID-19 measures. Residents are required to wear masks in most public spaces, including public transport and retail shops; where possible, people from different households should remain a minimum of 1.5 m (5 feet) apart. Major public events, including parades and fairs, are banned until Aug. 31. Private indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 persons are permitted. Hotels and other short-term accommodations have reopened; hygiene and social-distancing guidelines must be observed. All retailers and nonessential businesses are permitted to reopen; however, limits have been placed on the number of customers in the store, and queues should be avoided.

The power to ease or reimpose COVID-19 measures largely rests with German states. Accordingly, regional restrictions can vary. In general, bars and restaurants can reopen provided social distance guidelines can be met. Leisure facilities have reopened nationwide. Outdoor demonstrations are permitted under certain conditions, including the requirement that the meeting place offers enough space to maintain social distance. Local authorities will reimpose measures if local case numbers exceed 50 per 100,000 people in a 7-day period.

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
As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to local government areas, neighborhoods or even specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary "self-policing" by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

The restrictive measures taken by Germany are similar to actions taken by other governments globally 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.

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. 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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