Important Information regarding the Corona Virus Pandemic
From Official, Trustworthy Sources
We will try to publish the latest official statements by the German and/or Bavarian government here on our webpage, but we also encourage you to check reliable sources daily:
https://www.br.de/index.html is a good page to start.
If you install a plug-in in your browser (e.g., Google Translate Element in Firefox), you will be able to translate the latest official German news
pages using machine translation on the fly, very helpful indeed. All the offical statements given below were translated in this way.
Starting April 27, Masks are Officially Mandatory in Bavarian Shops & Public Transport. Here’s What You Need to Know
In a 50 minute speech on Monday (full version here), Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder officially announced a formal mask obligation (Maskenpflicht), which will begin in Bavaria on April 27.
This Maskenpflicht will make it mandatory to cover one’s nose and mouth in shops of all sizes, and on public transport.
Söder has clarified however that medical grade masks are not required (and should be reserved for use in healthcare settings). Instead, the obligation is to simply cover one’s nose and mouth, whether with a scarf or with a mask. Community masks (AKA DIY masks made with commercially available fabrics) are suitable for this purpose.
With this announcement, Bavaria has become the third federal state to make masks mandatory in Germany, following Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Up until now, masks had only been a strong recommendation with no formal obligation.
In his speech, Söder also announced the following updates:
- Parents will not need to pay any kindergarten or daycare fees in the next three months if these facilities have been closed due to COVID-19 related precautions
- The state of Bavaria plans to ease the financial burden for artists in the state by providing them with 1000 euros a month
- While no concrete dates have been given, the state is actively working towards the gradual re-opening of religious services, starting as early as May. They will discuss these measures in the coming days
- Gastronomy businesses will not yet be permitted to re-open, however a reduction in VAT is planned to help ease the financial burden for these businesses
Latest Official Announcements, April 16, 2020
In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder revealed an official timeline of how lockdown measures would proceed throughout the state of Bavaria.
Many of these changes are in line with the updates announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a press conference yesterday, although Bavaria’s timeline will differ slightly given its status as the German state hit hardest so far by COVID-19.
Here’s what you need to know:
General Bavaria Lockdown Updates
- Exit restrictions will be extended until May 3. However, from April 20th onwards, restrictions will be loosened in certain cases. We will list them separately below.
- From April 20th onwards, you will be permitted to meet with ONE person outside of your family or household. Individuals are however encouraged to reduce unnecessary contact whenever possible.
Shopping & Small Businesses
- From April 20th onwards, Baumärkte und Gartenmärkte may reopen. In other words, large hardware stores/garden shops will be allowed to open.
- From April 27th onwards, small shops of up to 800 square meters may reopen. Car dealerships, bike shops and bookshops are exempt from this 800 square meter limit. During this time however, shops may only allow a maximum of 40 people inside at once, and department stores/shopping malls will remain closed.
- From May 4th onwards, hairdressers and podiatrists will be allowed to reopen. Needless to say, all the businesses listed will only be permitted to operate if they comply with strict hygiene standards.
- From April 27th onwards, final year students (e.g. those graduating and writing exams) in Realschulen, Mittelschulen und Gymnasien will return to school. Other students (they specifically mention students graduating next year) will return on May 11.
- Grundschulen und Kitas will remain closed. Emergency care will continue to be provided for those in critical roles such as healthcare.
General Public Life: Gastronomy, Events, Tourism
- All large events will be banned until August 31st. This has prompted the official cancellation of prominent music festivals Rock am Ring & Rock im Park, as well as casted significant doubt on whether Oktoberfest 2020 can go on. While in recent interviews, Söder has shown a lot of skepticism over the likelihood of Oktoberfest taking place, no official call has yet been made.
- Masks are strongly encouraged, but not mandatory. While no legal obligation is in place yet to wear a mask in public, Söder emphasized the importance of wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth when in shops and on public transport.
- All current restrictions on gastronomic businesses such as restaurants and cafes will remain. This means no sit-down options are allowed, however these businesses are still permitted to offer takeout/delivery.
- All current restrictions on tourism businesses such as hotels will remain. Söder also mentioned that summer vacations abroad were looking highly unlikely.
You can read this official announcement from Muenchen.de here for more info in German.
At a press conference on Wednesday discussing the next steps in Germany’s lockdown measures, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced many changes to come across the country, including the gradual re-opening of schools, shops, and extensions on current exit restrictions. You can read a summary of what was announced here.
It is important to note however that states may handle matters differently when it comes to specific timelines and regulations. Bavaria in particular has been the state most impacted by the spread of COVID-19, therefore we are looking at a slightly delayed timeline compared to the rest of the country, with Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder advocating for a more cautious approach than other state leaders.
While the Bavarian State Government is set to meet this afternoon to discuss specifics, Muenchen.de has released a statement here outlining specific Bavaria-wide changes to come. Here are the confirmed details we know so far:
- Schools will re-open in Bavaria from May 11 onwards. This is one week later than the May 4 opening date in other federal states.
- Exam preparations can begin from April 27 onwards. This is for students writing exams such as the Abitur or Mittelreife.
- Primary schools and daycare centers will remain closed. Emergency care will continue to be provided for those in critical roles such as healthcare.
- Exit restrictions will be extended until May 3. This is in line with the extension issued in other states. Strict border controls will continue until May 4.
- Shops will be re-opening at a different schedule than other states, and with different regulations. Shops in other federal states (up to a size of 800 square meters) will re-open on Monday, but Söder has made it clear that the re-opening of shops in Bavaria will occur on a different timeline. An exact timeline has yet to be announced.
- All large events will be banned until August 31st. This of course has cast doubt on the fate of large events like Oktoberfest. While discussions are still taking place about whether Oktoberfest 2020 can go on, Söder has shown skepticism about the event’s likelihood in recent interviews like this one.
Chancellor Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s federal states will be meeting again on April 30 to discuss further plans. It is said the meeting will specifically address the topics of art, culture and sports. More on this as it develops.
Previous official statement by the German government (March 22, 2020) can be found here:
(Machine Translation below)
The rapid spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in Germany in recent days is worrying. We must do everything we can to prevent an uncontrolled increase in the number of cases and to keep our health system efficient. Reducing contacts is crucial for this.
The Federal Government and the Länder agree on an extension of the guidelines on the restriction of social contacts adopted on 12 March:
Ⅰ. Citizens are being urged to reduce contacts with other people outside their own homes to an absolutely necessary minimum.
II. A minimum distance of at least 1.5 m shall be observed in public, wherever possible, with persons other than those referred to in I.
III. Staying in public spaces is only permitted on his own, with another person not living in the household or in the circle of the relatives of the own household.
IV. The way to work, emergency care, shopping, visits to the doctor, participation in meetings, necessary appointments and exams, help for other or individual sports and exercise in the fresh air as well as other necessary activities remain, of course, Possible.
V. Groups of celebrating people in public places, in apartments and private institutions are unacceptable given the serious situation in our country. Violations of the contact restrictions are intended to be
authorities and the police and sanctioned for infringements.
VI. Restaurants will be closed. This does not apply to the delivery and collection of food that can be taken with you for consumption at home.
VII. Service companies in the field of personal care such as hairdressers, beauty studios, massage practices, tattoo studios and similar establishments are closed, because in this area physical proximity is indispensable. Medically necessary treatments remain possible.
VIII. In all establishments, and in particular those with public transport, it is important to comply with hygiene regulations and to implement effective protective measures for employees and visitors.
IX. These measures shall be valid for at least two weeks.
The Federal Government and the Länder will work closely together to implement these restrictions and to assess their effectiveness. Further regulations due to regional specificities or epidemiological situations in the countries or counties remain possible.
The Federal Government and the Länder are aware that these are very drastic measures. But they are necessary and they are proportionate to the health of the population in terms of the legal property to be protected.
In particular, the Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder would like to thank the health, civil service and sectors that sustain daily life and all citizens for their responsibility and their willingness to adhere to these rules in order to further slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The official statement by the Bavarian government (in German) regarding curfew restrictions (Ausgangsbeschränkung) can be found here:
(Machine Translation below)
Preliminary restriction on the corona pandemic
Announcement of the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care of 20.03.2020, Az. Z6a-G8000-2020/122-98
On the basis of Section 28 (1) sentence 1 and 2 of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG), the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care issues the following
1. Everyone is encouraged to reduce physical and social contact with other people outside of their own household to an absolutely necessary minimum. Wherever possible, a minimum distance between two persons of 1.5 m must be observed.
2. Catering establishments of any kind are prohibited. Excluded is the supply and delivery of food that can be taken with you.
3. The visit of
(a) hospitals and preventive and rehabilitation facilities where medical care comparable to that of hospitals is provided (facilities in accordance with Section 23 (3) No. 1 and 3 IfSG); excluded from this are maternity and child wards for close relatives and palliative care units and hospices,
b) fully stationary care facilities in accordance with Section 71 (2) of the Eleventh Book of the Social Code (SGB XI),
(c) institutions for persons with disabilities within the meaning of Section 2(1) of the Ninth Book of the Social Code (SGB IX), in which integration assistance is provided day and night;
d) outpatient residential communities in accordance with Art. 2 sec. 3 Nursing Home Quality Act (PfleWoqG) for the purpose of extraclinical intensive care (intensive care WGs), in which outpatient care services provide services in accordance with Section 23 sec. 6a IfSG;
e) Old people's homes and retirement homes.
4. Leaving your own home is only permitted if there are valid reasons.
5. The main reasons are:
(a) the pursuit of professional activities;
(b) the use of medical and veterinary care services (e.g. doctor's visit, medical treatment; Blood donations are expressly permitted) as well as a visit to relatives of helping professions, insofar as this is urgently needed medically (e.g. psycho- and physiotherapists),
(c) supply services for everyday items (e.g. food trade, beverage markets, pet supplies, mail order, pharmacies, drugstores, medical centres, opticians, hearing aids, banks and ATMs, post office, petrol stations; garages, cleaning and the submission of postal ballot documents). The use of other services, such as visits to hairdressing establishments, does not include the use of other services to meet daily needs.
(d) visiting partners, the elderly, the sick or people with disabilities (outside institutions) and the exercise of custody in the respective private sphere;
(e) the assistance of persons and minors in need of assistance;
(f) the accompaniment of the dying and funerals in the closest family circle;
(g) sport and exercise in the fresh air, but only alone or with members of the home and without any other group formation;
(h) actions to care for animals.
6. The police are required to check compliance with the initial restriction. In the event of a check, the valid reasons must be demonstrated by the person concerned.
7. A breach of this general order may be punished as an administrative offence in accordance with Section 73(1)(6) of the Infection Protection Act.
8. Further orders from the local health authorities remain unaffected.
9. This general decree is immediately enforceable in accordance with Section 28 (3), Section 16 (8) of the Infection Protection Act.
10. This General Decree shall enter into force on 21 March 2020, 00:00 and expire on 03/03/2020. The initial restrictions thus end on 03.04.2020, 24:00.
The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 poses enormous challenges for society and the health system as a whole. There is a very dynamic and serious situation worldwide, in Germany and Bavaria, with a sharp increase in the number of cases within a few days. The World Health Organisation classified the spread of the virus and the resulting disease COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
The overall risk to the health of the population in Germany is currently considered to be high. COVID-19 is very infectious. Especially older people and those with pre-existing basic diseases are affected by severe disease histories and can die from the disease. As there is currently no vaccine or specific treatment available, all measures must be taken to delay the further spread of the virus. The aim is to reduce the overall burden on the health care system by slowing down the flow of infection, to avoid peak stress and to ensure medical care. The State Government has already taken numerous measures to this end.
Pursuant to the first sentence of Section 28(1) of the IfSG, the competent authority shall take the necessary protective measures to the extent and as long as it is necessary to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
According to Paragraph 28(1) sentence 2 Hs. 2 IfSG, the competent authority may oblige persons not to leave the place where they are or not to enter certain places until the necessary protective measures have been carried out.
For the reasons in detail:
The extensive reduction or restriction of social contacts in the private and public spheres is a key factor in reducing the transmission of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in the population. This purpose is the purpose of initial restrictions. By slowing the spread, the expected serious cases of COVID-19 can be spread over a longer period of time and hospital shortages can be avoided.
In order to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus, it is necessary to close all gastronomic establishments, with the exception of the supply of food and delivery services. Gastronomic establishments pose an increased risk of transmission of the coronavirus due to the regular exchange of unpackaged drinks and meals between the operator and guests, even if the guests are kept at the same time by means of appropriate arrangements at the tables. In addition, as venues for gatherings between people, they present an increased risk of contagion due to ever-changing public traffic. Since previously milder means, which in the general decree on event bans and operating bans of the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care and the Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labour and Social Affairs of 16.03.2020, Az. 51-G8000-2020/122-67, amended by notice of 17.03.2020, Az. Z6a-G8000-2020/122-83, have not led to a reduction in the number of infections, the closure of gastronomic establishments as an ultima ratio is necessary and proportionate to protect the health of the population. The supply of food that can be carried with you and the continued operation of delivery services shall be maintained. This is particularly necessary for people who cannot leave the house for good reasons.
In these facilities, people are often cared for who would be particularly seriously at risk from infection with the new pathogen. In order to protect these particularly vulnerable groups of people, the visit to the facilities must be completely prohibited as an ultima ratio, because already ordered less intrusive measures in the form of the general decree restricting the visiting rights for hospitals, nursing and disabled facilities of the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care of 13.03.2020, Az. G51b-G8000-2020/122-56, amended by notice of 17.03.2020, Az. GZ6a-G8000-2020/122-82 has not led to a reduction in the number of infections. Since in the present case only the visit to the institutions is prohibited, the visit of the institution for the purpose of treatment is not included. In addition to avoiding entries of the pathogen, the ban on visits also supports medical care. The risk of illness of the carer and medical staff is reduced. As a result, the measures for the medical facilities covered also contribute to the maintenance of the capacity of the health and are therefore also indispensable for the protection of public health.
Due to the massive increase and the hitherto largely unchecked course of new infections, it can be seen that the milder means taken so far, which in the general decree on event bans and operating bans of the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care and the Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labour and Social Affairs of 16.03.2020, Az. 51-G8000-2020/122-67, amended by notice of 17.03.2020, Az. Z6a-G8000-2020/122-83, have not led to a reduction in the number of infections. In addition, there are still larger crowds of people in public places. Accordingly, as an ultima ratio, initial restrictions are imperative in order to contain the infection. In the present case, it is not a deprivation of liberty, but merely a restriction of personal freedom of movement. For reasons of proportionality, it is permitted to leave the apartment for reasons of proportion, for good reasons, which are listed in detail in point 6. The existence of these reasons must be demonstrated in the case of police checks.
Infringements are punishable by a fine of up to EUR 25,000 (Section 73 (1) No 6 and (2) IfSG). The infringement of an enforceable order pursuant to Section 28 (1) sentence 2 of the IfSG is punishable by criminal law in accordance with Section 75 (1) No. 1 IfSG.
Further orders from the local health authorities remain unaffected.
The immediate enforceability is derived from Section 28 (3), Section 16 (8) of the IfSG.
The entry into force is governed by The 4rd sentence of Article 41 of the BayVwVfG.