Next week, on March 3rd, it will be that time again: Then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the 16 Prime Ministers will discuss how the lockdown, which has been going on for months and which will continue until March 7, will continue. Even Merkel, who had so far categorically resisted openings, wants to decide on that day how the country can gradually start up again. On Monday, the politician in the CDU presidium spoke of a “legitimate yearning” of the population for an opening strategy. However, she did not reveal what this could look like.
Although a working group from the federal and state governments is not supposed to officially develop a corresponding concept until Tuesday, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are much further behind the scenes. According to a multi-page, confidential key issues paper from federal-state consultations last week, there should be opening steps every two weeks from a seven-day stable incidence of less than 35 in a region.
However, there will be one condition for this: the incidence must remain stable below 35 for a further 14 days after each opening step or the trend must continue to decrease. In addition, other factors should play a role, such as the R-value, intensive care bed utilization or vaccination progress.
No more sticking to rigid incidence values
This means that the federal and state governments would say goodbye to their previous plans to make easing dependent on the achievement of certain incidence levels. For example, the most recent discussion here was to enable opening steps after the incidence fell below 35, 20 and 10. But due to the highly contagious mutations, even reaching the number 35 is not exactly easy. Most recently, the incidence nationwide even increased slightly to just over 60 despite lockdowns.
The aim of the new strategy should be to enable contacts only gradually in larger and fixed groups so that quick follow-up in the event of infection is possible and there is no “yo-yo effect”, which Merkel had already warned about on Monday. In addition, mask requirements and distance rules should continue to be adhered to, and name reservation systems and quick tests for self-testing should also be used.
According to information from NewsABC.net, the federal and state governments currently envisage that from a 7-day incidence of less than 35, for example, meetings of five people from two households should initially be possible again. So far, only a maximum of two people from two households are allowed to meet. If the incidence remains constant or falls for 14 days after this first easing step, ten people from three households should be allowed to meet in the next step. If the incidence does not increase in the following two weeks either, meetings of ten people should be made possible without budgetary restrictions. 14 days later personal contacts would then be possible without any restrictions.
Restrictions on restaurants, shops and hotels are only slowly being removed
According to the previous ideas, one wants to proceed in a similar way with restaurants. So these should initially remain tight even if the incidence remains stable for a week below 35. They should only be allowed to open after 14 days, when loosening, for example in personal contacts or in retail, has not led to an increase in the incidence again. But: Then initially only four people from two households are allowed and there will also be a curfew. If the trend is good, the number of guests should then increase every 14 days, and the restrictions such as a curfew will gradually be eliminated.
This is also the case with hotels and restaurants. Tourist overnight stays would be possible if the incidence did not rise above 35 again for three weeks and despite initial easing in other areas. As in the spring, retailers want to gradually go back to normal operations depending on the size of the shop, with the limit of 800 square meters possibly applying again. Businesses of this size should be able to open earlier than others, as customers are better distributed. Here, too, restrictions such as the number of customers per square meter should gradually be eliminated if the development is positive.