The leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states have agreed upon a set of rules governing contact over Christmas and New Year. According to the draft, meetings of up to 10 people would be permitted between December 23 and January 1 – but a final decision will not be made until Wednesday’s coronavirus summit with Angela Merkel.
Draft proposal would loosen contact restrictions over Christmas
On Wednesday, the state premiers will come together with Chancellor Angela Merkel to agree on a joint approach to keeping the coronavirus pandemic in check over the next couple of months. On Monday, they presented a plan to extend contact restrictions beyond the end of November, and now they have agreed to separate proposals for the Christmas period.
According to a draft document circulated on Tuesday, the state premiers have agreed to uniform contact rules for the period from December 23 to January 1. During this time, meetings of up to 10 people should be made possible, even if they come from different households. Children up to the age of 14 years would be exempt.
The heads of government also call on people to self-quarantine for several days before and after Christmas, wherever possible – although this has been left as a recommendation, not a rule. “This can be supported by Christmas school holidays, that may be brought forward from December 19, 2020,” the draft states. Churches will be permitted to hold festive ceremonies, but larger services are to be avoided.
The subject of a possible fireworks ban over New Year’s Eve has also been heavily debated in recent days. It seems that the state premiers will refrain from making a firm decision, and have instead said that fireworks “should” be banned in busy public places and streets – but that “the locally responsible authorities should determine the places and streets affected”, thereby sidestepping a blanket sales ban.
Angela Merkel will debate rules with states on Wednesday
In order to allow larger gatherings to take place over Christmas, the state leaders are pushing for contact restrictions to be tightened from December 1. According to the document, private meetings would only be allowed to take place between two separate households, and up to a maximum of five people. Children would still be exempted from this rule.
The governing mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, is confident that state leaders and Angela Merkel will agree to an extension of the coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday. “There can still be two or three changes – but we really have a closed situation that we want to implement together,” he told the Morgenmagazin von ARD und ZDF.