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A page by the Federal Ministry of Health

Bundesministerium für Gesundheit
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Organising everyday life

Over the last few weeks, we have experienced a “new normal”. This includes paying attention to the “DHM formula”: Keeping a distance, following hygiene rules and, when there is little space, wearing a non-medical face mask (community mask). What other precautions must be taken in daily life? What regulations are in place?

Current regulations

On 25 May 2020, the Federal Government and the Laender decided to extend the measures to contain the coronavirus epidemic. The most important rule across the board is still to adhere to the minimum distance of 1.5 metres from other people. In addition, people are still required to follow the hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing, washing hands) and wear a “community mask” (obligatory when shopping or using public transport). The contact restrictions in place at least until 29 June 2020 are to be changed in one area: In future, members of two different households will be able to spend time together in public spaces. You are permitted to spend time with up to 10 people in a public space at the same time. It is recommended to keep the number of people with whom you are in contact as low as possible and ideally remain within the same circle of people. The Federal Laender are free to determine under what conditions they allow private meetings to take place. The hygiene and social distancing rules should also be followed during private meetings in enclosed spaces at people’s homes. Adequate ventilation should be ensured. The details of some rules are determined by the Laender themselves, depending on their individual rates of infection and Land-specific characteristics. Please check the rules that apply in your Federal Land. The local authorities can respond with new restrictions immediately, should a regional spike in the infection rate occur.

Please check the regulations that apply in your Bundesland by using its official sources, such as the website of your Land Government:

In Germany, the Länder have legislative powers in certain policy areas, include health. They can thus adopt individual measures. The Federal Government has a recommending function and works closely with the various state governments in order to develop a common strategy.

It is currently impossible to tell whether the restrictions can be eased further after 25 June. The rules will continue to be reviewed on a regular basis and regionally adapted under the Federal Laender’s own responsibility in light of local infection rates. Local authorities can respond with restrictions immediately, should there be a regional spike in the infection rate or a local outbreak.

Distance and hygiene

A daily life with less infection and more consideration means following the DHM formula. Distance, Hygiene, Masks.

  • Keeping a distance: Keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people on your way to work, when shopping or strolling in the park
  • Paying attention to hygiene: Follow the hygiene rules with respect to sneezing, coughing and washing hands
  • Wearing a community mask: It is urgently recommended that you wear a community mask in places where it may be difficult to maintain the minimum safety distance. So as to protect bystanders, the Laender have introduced rules on wearing face masks when travelling on public transport and when shopping. People who wear community masks still need to maintain a distance from others, however.

Everyone can contribute to containing the further spread of the novel coronavirus by following the rules summed up by the DHM formula : Maintain a distance (at least 1.5 metres), adhere to hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing, washing hands) and, where there is little room, wear a non-medical face mask (community mask). This is necessary to protect risk groups and minimise the strain on hospitals. People are still being urged to reduce the number of people with whom they are in personal contact as far as possible.

Social distancing can have a huge effect if done consistently. By avoiding personal contact with others, further infection with the virus can be prevented. The contact restrictions and adherence to the hygiene rules have contributed to a stark decrease in the number of cases of infection in Germany in recent weeks. By adhering to the rules of conduct and the DHM formula (keep a distance, follow the hygiene rules and, when there is little space, wear a non-medical face mask or “community mask”), everyone can continue to do their part to slow the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Through the restrictions to date, it has been possible to slow down the rate of infection in Germany. Without restrictions, this would very quickly increase again. That is why the successes attained over the last few weeks must be safeguarded and why the measures to limit social contact must continue to apply. The effectiveness of the measures taken is being monitored on an ongoing basis. New rules may still be required. Please check what regulations apply in your area.

How long these restrictions will remain in place is still not clear. The Federal Government and the Laender decide every 14 days which protective measures to maintain and which should be modified. The current decisions by the Federal Government and the Laender apply until 3 May.

In public, wherever possible, keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from others.

Following the decision of 6 May 2020, it is permitted for the members of two different households to spend time together in a public space. Gatherings are still not allowed in homes, private facilities or in public spaces. The contact restrictions will remain in effect until at least 5 June 2020. The most important rule in all areas is still adhering to the minimum safety distance of 1.5 metres from other people. In addition, you are still required to follow the hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, washing hands) and wear a non-medical face mask or “community mask” (DHM formula). Some Federal Laender have different rules. Please check which rules apply where you are. Details on the regulations can be found on each Bundesland’s government website.

Due to the current situation, the Telefonseelsorge helpline is available round the clock. If you have problems, feel lonely, suffer from depression, are sick, or if you are grieving or are angry, you can call the following number anonymously (without having to give your name): 0800 111-0-111 (https://www.telefonseelsorge.de). The "Nummer gegen Kummer" helpline for parents (https://www.nummergegenkummer.de/) can be reached at 0800 111 0550 Monday to Friday from 9-11am and Tuesday and Thursday from 5-7 pm. Children and adolescents can call 116 111 to reach a dedicated "Nummer gegen Kummer" helpline for young people which is available Monday to Saturday from 2-8pm (https://www.nummergegenkummer.de/kinder-und-jugendtelefon.html). The violence against women – “Gewalt gegen Frauen” – helpline (https://www.hilfetelefon.de/) can be reached round the clock by dialling 08000 116 016. The “Pflege in Not” helpline for family carers can be reached at 030 6959-8989 Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm and Saturdays from 10am-2pm (https://www.pflege-in-not.de).

According to the decision of 25 May 2020 by the Federal Government and the Laender, the contact restrictions will remain in effect at least until 29 June 2020. You are permitted to spend time in a public space with the following restrictions: Members of two different households can spend time together in public spaces. You are permitted to spend time with up to 10 people at the same time in a public space. The most important and effective measure to protect yourself and others from infection is to follow the rules of conduct summed up by the DHM formula: Maintain a distance (at least 1.5 metres), adhere to hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing, washing hands) and, where there is little room, wear a non-medical face mask (community mask). This reduces the risk of infection and protects others who may be nearby. Tips on hygiene and hand hygiene are available here [Link Infektiontsschutz.de]. The Laender have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose coverings when travelling on public transport and when shopping. Regulations on wearing face masks may differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules in place where you are.

The Laender determine for themselves when to gradually reopen indoor and outdoor swimming pools. In most Federal Laender, outside swimming pools have been reopened. When you go to an outside swimming pool, it is important to follow the basic hygiene principles and in general those summed up by the DHM formula: Maintain a distance (at least 1.5 metres), observing hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing, washing hands) and, where there is little room, wear a non-medical face mask (community mask), for instance when waiting in line. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für das Badewesen e. V. (German Association for the Bathing Industry) provides information on its website on how you should behave in an outside swimming pool during the coronavirus epidemic and what the operators of such a facility should consider when reopening. Outside swimming pools are still closed in some Federal Laender. Please check which rules apply in your region.

Yes, you can spend time there, under the following conditions: Members of two different households can spend time together in public spaces. You are permitted to spend time with up to 10 people at the same time in a public space. People are still being urged to reduce the number of people with whom they are in personal contact as far as possible. In general, please behave according to the DHM formula: Maintain a distance (at least 1.5 metres), follow the hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing, washing hands) and, where there is little room, wear a non-medical face mask (community mask). Some Federal Laender have different rules. Please check which rules apply where you are.

This mode of transmission cannot be excluded. It is extremely important to maintain sufficient distance. When you breathe deeply while doing sports, the droplets you exhale are expelled further than usual. You should therefore follow the distancing rules even more stringently when out of breath. When jogging, try to avoid running in someone else’s slipstream. Doing sports in larger groups of people poses a larger risk of infection and is still forbidden in most Laender. Each Land currently has its own regulations. Please check the current rules on contact restriction in your area. In general, please behave according to the DHM formula: Maintain a distance (at least 1.5 metres), adhere to hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, washing hands) and, where there is little room, wear a non-medical face mask (community mask).

If you have had personal contact with a person who has a laboratory-confirmed infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, get in touch with your local public health office immediately, regardless of symptoms. You can find out which public health office is responsible for you here: https://tools.rki.de/PLZTool/

In principle, the contact restrictions passed by the Federal Government and the Laender on 22 March remain in force until 5 June. You are permitted to be in public spaces when alone, with members of your own household or with people from one other household. The Federal Laender are free to determine under what conditions they allow private meetings to take place. Regulations may differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules in the place where you are.

Yes, violations against the restrictions are being monitored and penalised by law enforcement. The Protection Against Infection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz) provides for fines of up to 25,000 euros. In more serious cases, imprisonment is possible. Please pay attention to the regulations that apply within the individual Laender. 

Community masks

When wearing an everyday mask, the general hygiene rules should be adhered to. That means washing your hands thoroughly with soap before you put the mask on and after you take it off. This can prevent viruses on the mask from getting on your hands and causing an infection.

The mouth and nose mask should cover both mouth and nose completely, and fit snugly around the edges to minimise the chance of air entering from the sides. If a mouth and nose mask becomes moist when worn, it should be changed immediately. As a general rule, it should be washed immediately after wear and kept in an airtight container until then. Ideally, mouth and nose masks should be washed at 95°C, but at least at 60°C. They must be left to dry completely before being used again.

Detailed instructions on using mouth and nose masks can be found here.

To protect people at close proximity, the Länder have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose masks, called community masks, when travelling on public transport. This reduces the risk of infection and protects those around us. You should still avoid using public transport where possible. This is because the virus can spread especially quickly in public transport. Above all, trips during rush hour should be avoided. Rules on wearing mouth and nose masks can differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules that apply where you live.

When travelling to work, switching to slow mode transportation is especially recommended (such as on foot or by bike or e-bike). If you are unable to avoid using public transport, keep your distance and observe coughing and sneezing etiquette – including when waiting at bus or tram stops and on railway station platforms, and practice good hand hygiene when your journey is complete. Moreover, it is currently not possible to buy your ticket from the driver; instead passengers should buy their tickets either at the automatic ticket machines, the ticket offices, or using a smartphone app.

The Robert Koch Institute recommends wearing a face mask (“community mask”) in public in specific situations. Covering the nose and mouth can intercept infectious droplets expelled, for instance, when speaking, coughing or sneezing. This helps to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Various manufacturers currently advertise the use of visors in place of non-medical face masks. However, the RKI does not recognise the use of visors as a comparable alternative to the non-medical face mask, since at best it intercepts droplets hitting the visor straight on.

Helping others

If you, yourself, are affected: Ask neighbours, family members or friends if they can help you. If this is not possible, contact the fire brigade or volunteers in your facility. If you are not affected yourself, you can offer your support to persons in need of assistance. Keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other persons.

You can offer to help older persons, for example, by doing their shopping for them. However, if you do so, be careful to avoid physical contact and keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other persons.

Reduce your personal contact as far as possible. Ideally you should only be in contact with persons with whom you live. Avoid close contact with friends and neighbours. You are only permitted to be in public spaces with the members of your own household or people from one other household. Some Federal Laender have different rules. Please check which rules apply where you are. Keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people. Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm rather than into your hand. Follow the hygiene tips.

It is not recommended that grandparents look after their grandchildren as children are also able to transmit the novel coronavirus without it being noticed. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs’ helplines are available to provide advice and assistance on all things relating to this new challenge of self-isolation and quarantine. The parents' helpline is aimed at mothers and fathers who wish to be given concrete advice in an uncomplicated and anonymous manner. Advisors are on hand across Germany and can be reached at the freephone number 0800 111 0550 from Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. till 11 a.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. till 7 p.m. Information on “emergency day-care” for children: The closing of schools and day-care centres has led the Laender to pass different regulations regarding “emergency day-care” for children. In most cases, parents who work in system-relevant jobs, such as healthcare, the police or in critical infrastructure are entitled to this service. More information is available on the websites of the Laender and the municipalities.

Mobility

The country-wide restrictions apply: Avoid social contact as much as possible. This also means refraining from non-essential travel, day trips and visits to relatives. Please familiarise yourself with the regional regulations and observe the basic rules: Adhere to the recommended minimum distance of 1.5 metres from other people, observe the sneezing and coughing etiquette, and practice good hand hygiene.

The recommended hygiene measures and rules on reducing personal contact with others also apply to driving. Meeting with people outside your own home is therefore only permitted if you can guarantee the minimum distance of 1.5 metres from others. Since this precaution is very difficult to uphold while driving, you should only drive with people from your own household. Regulations on wearing face masks may differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules in place where you are.

Food and basic services

Irrespective of the amount of sales space, shops observing enhanced hygiene requirements may open for business again. This means that, in a shop, it must be possible to keep at least 1.5 metres from any other person at every given moment. Furthermore, the Laender have introduced a rule on wearing non-medical face masks, so-called “community masks”, when shopping. The regulations may differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules in place where you are. If possible, you should try to bundle your purchases and reduce the number of trips to the shops. Please also pay attention to the hygiene rules: cough and sneeze (into the crook of your arm rather than into your hand) and keep your distance (at least 1.5 metres) from others. Wash your hands as soon as you get back home. You can ask older persons if they need help with their shopping.

The Länder have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose masks, called everyday masks, when travelling on public transport and when shopping. Rules on wearing mouth and nose masks can differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules that apply where you live. At all times, even if you wear a mouth and nose mask: Keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette.

Transmission of the novel coronavirus through foods or packaging is highly unlikely. Therefore, there is no need for disinfection. Wash your hands after unpacking your shopping.

Many delivery services are still delivering meals. In an effort to reduce the risk of infection, some delivery services have already introduced contactless delivery. Deliveries are now only placed in front of the door. Many services generally no longer require you to sign for your delivery.

Gastronomic establishments have already been reopened in almost all the Federal Laender. As per the decisions of 6 May by the Federal Government and the Laender, the Laender determine for themselves in light of their individual infection numbers how gradually, and subject to which requirements, they reopen restaurants. You should keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres in restaurants as well. Additional requirements may apply in specific Federal Laender, please refer to the regulations of your Federal Land. Relevant information can, for instance, be found on each Land government’s website. An overview is available here.

The supply of medicines is ensured, just as that of foodstuffs. Deliveries are constantly being made.

It is always possible that the digital infrastructure might undergo temporary disruptions. At the moment, all networks in Germany are stable. Some telecommunications providers in Germany are currently expanding their infrastructure, owing to sporadic capacity bottlenecks. Should you experience a disruption you can still call your service technician using the normal hotlines. When technicians enter your home, please pay attention to the hygiene recommendations and keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other persons.

Should this happen, please call your nearest tradesperson. In Federal Laender where curfews are in force, be aware that: All trips to pursue professional activities are admissible; therefore it is still possible for tradespersons to do work for customers. If the problems are severe, contact the fire brigade. Non-urgent business with tradespersons should be postponed. When you are in contact with other people, please pay attention to the hygiene recommendations and keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other persons.

Shops and opening hours

Since 4 May, hairdressers are allowed to reopen their business, assuming they are able to fully implement the requirements regarding hygiene, controlling access and avoiding queueing. Further information for employees and customers is available on the website of the employers' liability insurance association responsible for you. Please contact your hairdresser in advance to inform yourself regarding rules and regulations.

Yes, packages are being delivered. Some delivery companies are already no longer requiring that you sign for your package. The delivery worker documents the successful delivery of the package with their own signature. Some package delivery companies offer you the option of registering your preferred drop-off locations, so as to best reduce physical contact between delivery workers and recipients.

There are currently no restrictions on the sending or delivery of letters and packages in Germany. In the case of international deliveries, border controls and changes in transport processes can lead to delays.

Transmission of the novel coronavirus through letters or packages is highly unlikely. There is no need for disinfection. Wash your hands after unpacking any packages.

Public offices such as the job centre and the employment office can be reached by phone, email or fax. Some job centres have set up additional telephone numbers so as to be able to process cases within the deadlines. Payments to all persons who rely on monetary benefits such as family allowance or supplementary child allowance are guaranteed. Anyone who becomes unemployed or needs basic social security protection, can register and apply for benefits by phone or online.

The cleaner is a service provider and may go into private households. Nonetheless, other people who do not live in your household may only enter your home if absolutely necessary. All non-necessary work should be postponed for the time being.

If you need help that cannot be put off until a later date, the following applies: Talk to your cleaner and agree that they will wear a mouth and nose mask, observe coughing and sneezing etiquette, and practice good hand hygiene. If you are at home while the cleaner is there, you should keep the 1.5 metre distance. When the cleaner has finished, you should open the windows and air your home, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as taps.

Medical care

Yes, doctor’s visits are possible. Before you visit the doctor, please be sure to call the office beforehand and announce your visit. Many officers have set up separate areas for patients with infectious diseases and patients without symptoms. Do not enter a doctor’s office without having called beforehand.

Currently, most general practitioner’s offices are open. Please try to call another general practitioner’s office if your own doctor’s office is closed. As a rule, other doctors are able to write you a prescription.

Very often, prescriptions can be sent by mail if the doctor knows the patient. If necessary, it is possible for the prescription and the medicine to be delivered by courier.

Hospitals and doctors’ offices are currently instructed to keep capacity free for an increasing number of sick persons. This is why medical treatment can be postponed if it is not urgently necessary. Please contact your doctor if you are unsure whether your planned treatment can be carried out.

Outpatient care for long-term care patients is still possible. A number of home care services have taken preventive measures in preparation for coronavirus and have set up infection protection teams. Areas such as accident assistance, rescue services or home emergency call services can still be reached in the event of an emergency.