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Questions and answers on the 4th Civil Protection Act

When does the new Infection Protection Act apply?

The law was passed by the cabinet on April 13, 2021 and by the German Bundestag on April 21, 2021. The Federal Council dealt with it on April 22nd. The law came into force on April 23rd. Based on the incidences of the last three days, all districts and urban districts then evaluate and publish which rules apply to them the next day. The law will take effect for the first time on April 24th, 2021.

What changes?

From a stable incidence of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 7 days in a district (the numbers reported to the RKI are decisive), a uniform "emergency brake" is applied. This means: If the incidence is over 100 on three consecutive days, the additional measures specified in the law apply from the day after next. If the incidence rises above 165, schools (no more face-to-face teaching) and daycare centers with the exception of emergency care also close. If the 7-day incidence in the relevant district or urban district falls below the value of 100 or 165 on five consecutive working days, the measures will cease to apply there from the day after the next.

Where can I find the valid incidences?

An overview of the incidences in the individual counties can be found here: Berlin and Hamburg are treated like administrative districts. In Berlin, for example, the incidence of the district does not apply, but the incidence of the entire urban area.

What applies to citizens from an incidence of 100?

  • Private meetings are only permitted with someone outside the household. Children under the age of 14 belonging to the two households are excluded.
  • There is a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. You are only allowed to leave the house in an emergency, for official purposes or if you have to go out with your dog, for example. You are also allowed to move outside on your own between 10 p.m. and midnight.
  • During the day, sport may only be done alone, in pairs or with your own household. This does not apply to professional athletes. Professional sport takes place without a spectator. Children are also excluded if they train outside in contactless groups with a maximum of 5 children. Trainers may need to take a test beforehand.
  • In local and long-distance public transport, including taxis, it is mandatory to wear a protective mask (FFP2 or comparable). In addition, the means of transport should not be occupied by more than half of the regular number of passengers.
  • In addition, the Federal Government can issue further measures, specifications and exceptions by means of an ordinance with the consent of the Bundestag and Bundesrat.

What is allowed to open, what has to close when the incidence is over 100?

  • Leisure facilities, saunas, solariums, fitness studios, theaters, operas, concert halls etc. as well as shops have to close.
  • Weekly markets that only sell food, grocery stores, beverage stores, health food stores, baby stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, opticians, hearing aid acousticians, gas stations, newspaper sales outlets, bookstores, flower shops, animal supply markets, animal feed markets, garden markets and wholesalers are allowed to open. They are only allowed to sell their usual range. Distances must be maintained and customers must wear a medical mask or a respirator (FFP2 or comparable) in closed rooms.
  • It is also possible to use “Click & Collect” and up to a seven-day incidence of 150 and, with submission of a negative test result of no more than 24 hours old, also “Click & Meet” offers.
  • The outdoor areas of zoos and botanical gardens are allowed to open with hygiene concepts. Visitors must have a negative test (except children who have not yet reached the age of 6).
  • Catering establishments are only allowed to sell outside the home.
  • Overnight stays for tourist purposes are not permitted.
  • Workshops, post offices, banks and laundromats are allowed to open.
  • Services close to the body are prohibited - with the exception of medical, therapeutic, nursing or pastoral services. In addition, hairdressers and podiatrists can stay open. However, they are only allowed to work with respiratory masks (FFP2 or comparable). Visits to the hairdresser and foot care are only possible with a negative test.

Are exit restrictions a proportionate tool to fight the pandemic?

From a 7-day incidence of over 100, exit restrictions are an important means of effectively containing the infection process. A large number of scientific studies support this finding (link studies). The exit restriction is only limited to the period in which the emergency brake applies; it cannot be ordered purely as a precaution.

Various courts have already confirmed that exit restrictions are permissible. Exit restrictions are not deprivation of liberty, but rather restrict the use of public spaces during normal rest and bedtime. Citizens are still allowed to leave their homes for valid reasons.

Why is it not possible for parents and their children up to the age of 14 to visit their grandparents or for couples living together in another household to visit?

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is mainly transmitted through the air we breathe. Changing meetings between people increases the risk of contagion. Especially at meetings in a private context, there are often special challenges to permanently comply with sufficiently strict hygiene regulations. For this reason, there is a limitation to meetings of a household with a maximum of one other person. The regulation helps to break chains of infection particularly effectively.

Children up to the age of 14 are not included in this, as permissible meetings between adults are still possible in the presence of their respective children and social contacts are not to be excessively restricted.

Does the law provide for opening strategies?

Yes, the law provides for opening strategies. The “emergency brake” takes effect from a stable incidence of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 7 days. If the 7-day incidence falls below the value of 100 on five consecutive working days, the measures will expire on the day after the next.

What is true in schools?

  • As long as face-to-face lessons are taking place, students and teachers must be tested twice a week. The federal states are responsible for the procurement and implementation of the tests.
  • From a stable incidence (on three days in a row) over 100, alternate lessons must be taught. The federal states or schools decide on the form of the change model (daily, weekly ...).
  • From a stable incidence of 165, face-to-face teaching is prohibited in schools, vocational schools, universities, extracurricular adult education institutions and similar institutions. Day care centers will be closed. The federal states can organize emergency care.
  • The federal states can make exceptions to these regulations for final classes and special needs schools.

Do the rules also apply to those who have been vaccinated, who have recovered and who have tested negative?

The federal government will issue exceptions by ordinance with the consent of the Bundestag and Bundesrat. In particular, there may be, for example, special regulations for vaccinated, convalescent or negative test subjects.

Easements or exceptions already provided for or introduced in state law for people who are expected to be immunized against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus should be effective until a federal ordinance is issued.

What applies in companies?

Employers must offer their employees home office for office work (or comparable activities) if there are no compelling operational reasons and the employees must accept this offer, provided there are no reasons for their part.

Do the churches stay open?

Meetings that serve the practice of religion (within the meaning of Article 4 of the Basic Law) are still allowed. However, the federal states can also provide protective measures for these areas.

Why is the number of participants in funerals or memorial services limited to 30 people in the draft law?

The limitation of the number of participants at funerals or funeral ceremonies as a measure of infection protection law is not a new measure, but is based on tried and tested measures of the countries that already provide restrictions during the entire pandemic. It also represents a relief compared to the general contact restrictions. Of course, the mourners should still be able to commemorate the deceased in a dignified setting. At the same time, however, especially in the context of a high incidence situation, the considerable risk of infection from large gatherings of people must be taken into account and a careful balance must be found for all issues so as not to further increase the rate of infection. The regulation takes these aspects into account.

What if a federal state has stricter rules than the new nationwide emergency brake?

Then these stricter rules provided by the state apply.

Who checks whether the rules are being followed?

Compliance with the measures under the Infection Protection Act is still monitored by the responsible state authorities - public order office, health department, police.

Why is it based on incidence and not other factors?

The federal government is continuously looking not only at the incidence, but also many other factors such as the R-value, the utilization of the intensive care units, the number of tests carried out, etc. The 7-day incidence is an early indicator of an increasing number of infections. The burden on the health system and deaths resulting from this a few weeks later only increase with a considerable delay. The 7-day incidence averages daily fluctuations, it is published daily and is easily comprehensible for everyone.

Why were these incidence figures chosen and not others?

The Infection Protection Act already provides for special measures from an incidence of 35 or 50 onwards at regional level. If the number of infections continues to double, federal law must ensure that the numbers fall again through suitable measures. The experience of the past months also shows that the health authorities can no longer guarantee contact follow-up if the incidence is more than 100. The infection threatens to get out of control. By then, at the latest, comprehensive measures are necessary to bring the infection process under control again and to protect the health system from overload.

What else do the countries decide now?

The nationwide “emergency brake” takes effect from a stable incidence of 100. In the case of incidences below 100, the federal states continue to decide on measures. In addition, the federal states can provide additional protective measures for incidences of more than 100.

Until when do the measures apply?

The so-called emergency brake measures will expire on June 30, 2021 at the latest.

April 23, 2021