Coronavirus

Lockdown extension until February 14th and stricter mask requirement

From left: Berlin’s governing Michael Müller (SPD), Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD)

picture alliance / dpa / dpa pool | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime ministers of the 16 countries discussed on Tuesday an early extension and tightening of the lockdown. The meeting is still ongoing, but some agreements have already been made:

Lockdown: The lockdown, which actually lasts until the end of January, will be extended to February 14th. When this will apply is still open, but should be implemented “quickly”.

Mask requirement: In the future, everyday masks should not be used in public transport, when shopping and in church services, but only surgical or FFP2 masks.

Contacts: The previous contact restrictions will not be tightened contrary to the original plans of the Chancellery. Furthermore, meetings with a person from another household are allowed. However, according to the appeal, the number of households should be kept as constant and low as possible.

Home Office: In the future, employers will be obliged to offer their employees the opportunity to switch to the home office “if the activities permit.” It is still unclear whether medical masks will then have to be offered or whether employers are only asked to offer them.

Curfew: There will not be a nationwide uniform curfew, as planned by the Chancellery in the meantime. Instead, the federal and state governments generally agreed to take tougher regional measures, even if the incidence is below 200. So far, for example, the limitation of the range of motion to 15 km around the place of residence only takes effect from an incidence of 200.

Schools and daycare centers are once again in dispute

On the other hand, the way schools and daycare centers are dealt with is once again controversial. The Chancellery wants to close both of them by February 15, the states want to remain flexible.

Specifically, it is about the following resolution text:

The operation of childcare facilities and schools is of the utmost importance for the education of children and for the compatibility of family and work of the parents. Closed schools and childcare facilities, suspended compulsory attendance or distance learning in schools over a longer period of time are not without negative consequences for the educational biographies and social participation of children and young people. Nevertheless, there are indications that must be taken seriously that the mutation B.1.1.7 of the SARS-CoV2 virus is also spreading more strongly among children and adolescents than is the case with the virus known to date. Therefore the schools will be closed until February 15th. Emergency care is ensured and distance learning is offered. Separate regulations can be provided for graduating classes. In day care centers the procedure is analogous. The Conference of Family Ministers and the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs are asked to prepare for the time when the incidence falls below a 7-day incidence of 50, to reopen day care centers, to provide for alternate classes in the elementary schools in compliance with distance rules and to continue to plan distance classes in advanced years. “

After an hour of negotiation, the federal and state governments had postponed the item on the agenda until the evening.

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