The federal and state governments made a U-turn in the corona policy on Wednesday evening.
After nine and a half hours of negotiations, Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with the 16 prime ministers that the lockdown would be extended until March 28, but that clear steps should be taken from March 8.
WELT summarizes how the prime ministers reacted to the agreement.
Some have already announced how they want to implement the easing in concrete terms.
Baden-Wuerttemberg supports the decision of the Bund-Laender Round for regional easing of the corona lockdown from an incidence of 50.
So there should be a gradual opening of the retail trade in the southwest regionally, if the number of infections is below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, it said on Thursday night.
The lockdown to fight the corona pandemic will be extended to March 28th in view of the continued high number of infections.
The green-black coalition in the southwest has yet to implement the resolutions for the country.
It is unclear so far whether the secondary schools will be able to gradually reopen as soon as next Monday, as Minister of Education Susanne Eisenmann (CDU) had called for.
Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) only wanted to comment on the resolutions on Thursday and discuss the next steps with Eisenmann.
The Greens had recently shown skepticism as to whether it can be so quick to secure the reopening of the schools with enough quick tests for students.
The resolution of the federal and state governments stipulates that from next Monday onwards, with a 7-day incidence of less than 50, retail stores can reopen - albeit with a limit of one customer per 10 square meters or 20 square meters, depending on the sales area.
It is then also possible to open museums, galleries, memorials, zoological and botanical gardens as well as contact-free sports in small groups of up to ten people outdoors, including on outdoor sports facilities.
However, the number of new infections with the virus per 100,000 inhabitants in Baden-Württemberg continues to rise.
According to the State Health Office in Stuttgart, the value on Wednesday (as of 4:00 p.m.) was 54.4 across the country after 52 on the previous day.
Accordingly, 20 out of 44 urban and rural districts were below the incidence of 50.
Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) has urged caution in view of the courageous opening steps.
"It is true that what was decided here are already very big steps," he said on Thursday night in Berlin.
March will be a month of transition.
"It can turn out to be good, but it can also turn out to be bad," said Söder.
The Bavarian cabinet could already implement the measures decided in Berlin on Thursday, including a step-by-step plan to open up social life.
Regardless of the seven-day incidence, bookshops should also be able to reopen from next Monday after the garden and hardware stores, hairdressers and cosmetic studios are already open.
Among other things, contact-free outdoor sports, alone or in pairs, should be possible in areas where the seven-day incidence - i.e. the number of new corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a week - does not exceed 100.
Education Minister Michael Piazolo (Free Voters) will give details on the implementation of the test strategy in schools.
Further opening steps in such areas include not only appointment shopping offers in retail but also museums, galleries, zoos, botanical gardens and memorials for visitors with appointment bookings.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, 37 of the 105 Bavarian districts and independent cities had a seven-day incidence below 100 but over 50 on Wednesday.
In areas with an incidence of less than 50, all retailers should be able to reopen under strict customer access restrictions.
From Monday onwards, ten people will again be allowed to do sports together.
Museums and zoos can even open there without the visitor booking an appointment.
That would have applied on Wednesday for 39 districts and urban districts.
The severely limited private contact options are also to be relaxed from next Monday.
Then it will again be possible to have private meetings between your own household and another household, but limited to a maximum of five people.
In regions with a seven-day incidence of less than 35, you can also meet your own household with two other households - with a maximum of ten people in total.
Children up to 14 years are exempt from this.
So far, a household may meet with a maximum of one person from another household.
"We're giving people back a great deal of trust and freedom," said Söder.
But he also warned against opening the door too quickly.
“The heart tells us: Open as much as possible!
The mind clearly urges caution, "said the CSU boss.
"We don't have a guilty conscience about it, but we do have worries and concerns." It is important to be careful not to slip into the next lockdown, possibly as early as Easter.
Berlin's Prime Minister Michael Müller (SPD) has praised the step-by-step plan for possible opening steps as being easy to understand.
"This is a plan that we have that fits on a A4 page, and where everyone can understand one-to-one, where we are now and what can I prepare for," said the SPD politician who is also the chairman of the Prime Minister's Conference (MPK) on Wednesday in Berlin.
The Berlin Senate wants to discuss on Thursday afternoon what exactly the new resolutions mean for the capital and take appropriate decisions.
It is expected that he will orientate himself on the agreements from the Bund-Länder-Round.
In Berlin, too, there are likely to be the first easing steps, for example with regard to contact restrictions or further openings in retail.
In the step-by-step plan, sports and youth sports, theaters, museums, galleries or even retail are mentioned, said Müller.
“What the pressing questions are for many, how is my specific living environment progressing, what can I prepare for, is shown here in five steps on a DIN A4 page,” said Müller.
"It shows how things can go positive if we move in an incidence below 50 or in the incidences between 50 and 100," said Müller.
Müller defended the drastic corona measures to combat the pandemic.
"In the last year we have put a lot to many people, even with the restrictions," he said.
"But I never tire of saying that it was important and right that we did this because vaccination and testing were not available to us as they are now and we have saved thousands of lives with them." He wanted to emphasize it again and again : "That was not a futile fight that we fought."
According to the health administration's report on Wednesday, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a week in Berlin was 67.8, slightly below the value of the previous day (68.5).
The corona warning traffic light continues to show clearly red for this criterion - it would only jump to yellow from a value of 30, to green from 20.
Brandenburg's Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) has announced the possibility of gradual easing.
"In this sense, cautious openings in retail stores, museums and memorials, sports and outdoor activities are conceivable in a further step," said Woidke on Wednesday evening in Potsdam.
The cabinet will discuss this on Thursday and Friday.
Citizens, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, artists needed a perspective, said Woidke.
"But it would be wrong to open everything completely now." The hygiene rules must continue to be adhered to.
The head of government referred to the decision that from March 8, two households with up to five people could meet.
Body-hugging services such as cosmetic studios should be open with a mask or a negative corona test.
Depending on the corona infection situation, further steps should be possible.
In regions with up to 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a week, shopping with an appointment should be allowed, museums should open, and below 50 the openings are more generous.
Further easing depends on the fact that the previous level has not led to a deterioration in the value for two weeks - then it is the turn of the outdoor restaurants as well as cinemas and theaters.
The tests are to be expanded.
Bremen's head of government Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) considers close coordination between federal states and regions to be necessary in the event of different incidence values with corresponding opening steps in order to avoid unwanted shopping tourism.
Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) was fundamentally determined to look at the incidence values nationally and not regionally.
"That would make the vote much easier if that would remain the Lower Saxon stance in the future, which is what I'm counting on," said Bovenschulte on Wednesday evening.
The phased plan that has been adopted provides for larger or smaller opening steps if a stable seven-day incidence of less than 50 new infections or 100 per 100,000 inhabitants is achieved in the country or region.
That is a perspective, a clear specification and a clear step-by-step plan, so Bovenschulte.
The fact that the originally planned incidence value of 35 was abandoned is due to several reasons, including the expected additional protection through rapid tests.
Ultimately, Merkel herself made the discussion offer to replace the 35 with the 50.
In Bremen, the citizens will discuss the resolutions in a special meeting on Monday.
Then Bovenschulte will deliver his eighth government statement on the subject.
On Wednesday, Bremen reported an incidence value of 58.8 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within 7 days.
In the city of Bremerhaven, which is around 60 kilometers away from the state, this value was 185.1.
On Monday it was still there at 214.
According to health authorities, 142 people in Germany's smallest federal state currently have to be treated as inpatients, 31 of them in intensive care units.
21 of the people treated in intensive care have to be ventilated.
Despite concerns, Hamburg wants to adopt the federal-state resolutions to extend the corona lockdown without any compromises.
The red-green Senate will discuss the resolutions on Thursday.
"I am assuming that we will implement these resolutions 1: 1 as before," announced Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD).
Among other things, the severely limited private contact options are to be relaxed.
“That is one more level of uncertainty,” said Tschentscher after the nine-hour deliberations.
"I remain with my very skeptical attitude that we do not yet fully recognize the effects of the mutations." They are still on the advance.
"Here in Hamburg, the British mutation is particularly strong, stronger than the national average." Their share of a nationwide sample of almost 25,000 positive cases from last week is around 46 percent, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Robert Koch Institute .
For this reason, the easing, which has now been decided “at the special request of some countries”, requires even more discipline in compliance with the existing measures.
A "relapse" and escalating numbers of infections must be prevented as a matter of urgency.
“Everyone must know that we are not on the safe shore,” said Tschentscher.
With a seven-day incidence of over 80 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, Hamburg is still a long way from possible further easing.
"I think it is wise to watch this for a while longer."
According to the federal-state resolutions, up to five people from two households can meet again from Monday, whereby - unlike in Hamburg so far - children are not counted.
After the hairdressing salons have opened, bookshops, flower shops and garden centers are to follow.
Elsewhere, these are already open - which was criticized in Hamburg.
"We have to come to terms with the fact that some countries open earlier and others cannot take the same measures at the same time," said Tschentscher.
That is laid out in the agreed step-by-step concept.
According to this, a distinction should be made between countries with a seven-day incidence of less than 50 and one between 50 and 100.
At the same time, there is an "emergency brake", which provides for a return to the currently applicable measures in the event of a seven-day incidence over 100.
With his reluctance to relax the corona, Tschentscher can continue to rely on the support of the CDU opposition.
The long lockdown also led to "a noticeable and understandable corona fatigue" in Hamburg, said the parliamentary group leader of the CDU in the citizenry, Dennis Thering, on Thursday night.
"That Hamburg continues to rely on caution in the implementation is expressly correct, since the British virus mutant is unfortunately spreading further in Hamburg."
The question also arises as to “whether the agreed perspective plan with many individual steps depending on the incidence value is still comprehensible for the public,” said Thering.
"You can also safely argue about individual priorities, especially outdoor activities should be made possible first to protect against infection."
The federal government must ensure that the promised quick and self-tests are also made available to all citizens.
"These are the basis for allowing public life and the economy to gradually reopen, taking into account the actual occurrence of the infection."
Hesse's Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) has welcomed the planned lockdown extension with opening options.
"What we on the part of the states and the federal government have agreed on is a compromise," he said on Wednesday evening.
One must continue to be careful not to jeopardize what has been achieved.
"It is important for us that important parts of the Hessian perspective plan are reflected in the resolution."
Bouffier initially did not comment on the implementation of the resolutions in Hesse on Wednesday evening.
The head of government wants to inform about concrete steps for Hesse on Thursday after the meeting of the Hessian Corona Cabinet (2.30 p.m.).
After the opening of hairdressing salons and horticultural centers, the period of compulsory closings should also end for the retail trade in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Monday.
As Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) announced early Thursday morning in Schwerin, shops will be allowed to reopen for registered customers from March 8th.
The number of authorized persons depends on the size of the shop.
In regions with a seven-day incidence below 50, further openings are also possible without registrations.
This already applies to the Hanseatic city of Rostock as well as the districts of Vorpommern-Rügen and Mecklenburg Lake District.
Museums should also be allowed to reopen under certain conditions.
In circles with more than 100 corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a week, however, there could not be such relaxation, emphasized Schwesig.
In addition, the currently very strict contact restrictions in the private sector would be relaxed, she said.
In the future, meetings of up to five people from two families will be allowed, plus children up to 14 years.
According to Schwesig, there has not yet been a decision on tourism, who has also been on a forced break since November and is hoping for a restart at Easter.
On Friday, the state parliament in Schwerin will debate the implementation of the federal-state agreements in another special session.
Afterwards, after a video conference as part of the MV summit, the government and associations will update the state corona ordinance.
The federal and state governments had long and intense wrestling about the relaxation of the corona protection regulations, also because the number of corona cases has been rising again for days.
On Wednesday, 249 new corona infections were reported in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, 28 more than on Wednesday a week ago.
As the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (Lagus) further announced, the seven-day incidence in the northeast climbed to 67.6 corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a week.
At 112.5, the value is still highest in the Vorpommern-Greifswald district and lowest in the Hanseatic city of Rostock with 25.3.
Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) has expressed satisfaction with the agreement on a gradual relaxation.
"The Lower Saxony position can be found in a large part of the resolutions passed," said Weil late on Wednesday evening.
"All areas of this society now have a realistic opening perspective again."
At the same time, attention will continue to be paid to protection against infection.
"I consider the results of these consultations to be clear progress," said Weil.
In particular, the relevant threshold value for measures is again a seven-day incidence of 50.
"I am confident that we will now gradually and cautiously make things easier for the citizens." The people in Lower Saxony have long and patiently accepted many really serious restrictions on personal freedom.
"One thing must be clear to all of us: More relaxation also means more personal responsibility." Only if everyone continues to behave carefully and responsibly can more normality be regained, said the Prime Minister.
North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) will inform the Düsseldorf state parliament on Thursday (10 a.m.) about the latest federal-state resolutions on the corona crisis.
There were no resolutions to return to normalized school operations.
Laschet announced early Monday morning after the marathon meeting that talks would be held with parents 'and teachers' associations.
"You can't say details about this today."
Laschet sees a paradigm shift in fighting pandemics
NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) sees a change of perspective in the fight against the corona pandemic.
The strategy is now: away from permanent locking to controlled security.
After six weeks of distance learning, more than 800,000 students in North Rhine-Westphalia returned to their classes on February 22nd under tightened protective measures.
However, this only applies to elementary and special school pupils at the primary level who have alternating lessons, as well as to final classes.
Laschet emphasized: "The pandemic is particularly affecting those children who are already mentally ailing." It is not foreseeable what long-term consequences this will have - also for their educational opportunities and life courses.
After months of closings, customers should also be able to shop again in the retail stores in North Rhine-Westphalia under strict conditions.
Laschet reported that on March 8th, shopping by appointment should be possible in the stores.
Openings of bookstores, flower shops and garden centers had also been arranged nationwide.
The prerequisite for this, however, is that the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants is below the 100 mark within seven days.
In the national average, this is currently the case with values around 64.
It remains to be decided whether this will also be possible in all districts and urban districts.
“The goal is one customer per 40 square meters,” explained Laschet.
With the “Click and meet” model, a number of customers corresponding to the sales area is admitted for a fixed, limited period of time after booking an appointment in advance.
Documentation is provided for contact tracking.
“The German retail sector is suffering massively,” Laschet emphasized.
The fashion trade, which for the most part still has winter goods in the store, and furniture stores are particularly affected.
"We need a change of perspective away from blanket and permanent closure to focused and controlled security," said the NRW head of government and CDU chairman.
“The mutated virus continues to spread and we will have to learn to live with the virus.
That is what this Prime Minister's Conference carried today. "
Laschet said that the corona situation within NRW is very different: While 14 districts had fewer than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, there are also four districts with well over 100. A decision still has to be made as to whether shopping with a prior appointment The state chancellery said that this also applies across the country to the districts and independent cities, which may then be above the 100 mark.
The state government had previously spoken out against local openings to prevent shopping tourism.
In the catering trade, openings will not be possible until March 22nd at the earliest - with a seven-day incidence between values of 50 and 100 with different requirements such as appointment bookings, explained Laschet.
Starting next week, the federal government will assume the costs of a corona rapid test per week for every citizen.
The prerequisites for this should also be created in North Rhine-Westphalia.
“We will discuss this with the municipalities from tomorrow.
It is not yet possible to finally say a date for North Rhine-Westphalia when it will start, ”explained Laschet.
Schoolchildren should also be given the opportunity to test.
Rhineland-Palatinate is planning further “concrete opening steps” from the lockdown to combat the corona pandemic from next Monday.
The State Chancellery in Mainz announced on Wednesday evening.
For example, the bookshops should be able to reopen.
At the same time there will be an "emergency brake" if the number of new infections increases.
According to the decision of the state chiefs and the chancellor, the value for this is 100 per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days.
Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) had already spoken out in favor of this value before the online meeting.
Dreyer had also campaigned for the loosening of the contact restrictions.
From Monday on, private get-togethers between one's own household and another household are possible again, but limited to a maximum of five people plus children up to 14 years of age.
If there are fewer new infections, more contacts are allowed according to the decision paper.
Dreyer wants to explain the details this Thursday.
It first informs the council of elders of the state parliament and then the public.
Dreyer had also asked the meeting to make progress in testing strategy.
In their opinion, “targeted vaccination and testing” should accompany the relaxation of the corona lockdown.
The infrastructure for the rapid tests announced by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) for everyone has been prepared in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Before the video switch, Dreyer had also brought a perspective for outdoor catering in March and for hotels, holiday apartments and camping tourism at Easter.
Justice Minister Herbert Mertin (FDP) had expected from the video network "a clear commitment by the heads of government to withdraw the encroachments on fundamental rights through a new strategy to combat pandemics".
"After a year of pandemic and four months of the second lockdown, we need - especially against the background of the new mutations - finally more intelligent measures than the shutdown of our cultural, sporting and economic life", the FDP politician had demanded.
The economic policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group, Matthias Joa, called on the state government to open up the retail sector under “scientifically based and economically viable hygiene requirements”.
In most cases, appointment shopping is not economically viable and is a disproportionate competitive disadvantage compared to supermarkets.
The Saarland must continue to prepare for restrictions in the corona pandemic.
The lockdown will in principle be extended until March 28, said the Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans on Thursday night.
However, slight easing in connection with an expansion of the corona tests are planned.
"We can't keep the country in permanent lockdown for months," said Hans.
For this reason, cautious easements have also been agreed.
More rapid tests could help to responsibly accompany opening steps and additionally secure them.
"The Prime Minister's Conference has shown that the Saarland is exemplary in terms of the number of tests and examinations for mutations." However, technological possibilities must also be exploited quickly and to the full.
"The faster we vaccinate, the more we test and the better we understand contacts, the more effectively we keep Corona at bay."
According to Hans, extensive loosening is initially irresponsible due to the renewed increase in the number of infections, and contact reduction remains the essential tool for combating the pandemic.
However, differentiated according to the incidence of infection and increased rapid tests, the federal states could make the first cautious alleviations.
This applies to private gatherings, flower shops, garden centers, body-hugging services, driving schools and bookstores.
An opening scenario for the case of falling incidences was developed for the other areas.
Initially, Hans did not provide details on the implementation and schedule of the resolutions in Saarland.
The adopted measures would initially apply until March 28th.
On March 22nd, the federal and state governments want to discuss how to proceed again.
The Saarland is geographically in a special position, as it borders on the French border region Moselle, which has been designated as a virus variant area since Tuesday.
The département, which has around one million inhabitants, has to struggle with the South African variant in particular.
The previous Corona regulation expires in Saarland on March 7th.
The first steps have already been taken to open it.
Hairdressers have been reopened under strict conditions since Monday.
In addition, shopping in the outdoor areas of garden centers is possible again, as is “appointment shopping” in shops with a maximum of two people from one household.
Since February 22nd, elementary schools have been in alternating instruction, daycare centers are back to normal.
The seven-day incidence - i.e. the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days - was 69.2 in Saarland on Wednesday.
Saxony-Anhalt's Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff has promised further easing of the corona lockdown in the near future, but not for all districts.
The contact restrictions could be relaxed from currently one household plus one person to two households with a maximum of five people, as the CDU politician said after consultations with his federal and state counterparts on Thursday night.
Retailers could open their shops for smaller groups by prior appointment, and museums could open their rooms with advance ticket orders.
According to the agreement of the federal and state governments, these easing could take effect as early as Monday, March 8th.
Two weeks later, cafes and restaurants could serve guests in their outdoor seating, open theaters and cinemas and allow training in groups.
The prerequisite is that a district does not have more than 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week over several days, said Haseloff.
The head of government left it open whether Saxony-Anhalt will adopt the schedule.
Dates and details would have to be discussed on Thursday at a meeting of the black-red-green cabinet.
The value of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within one week is currently exceeded in Burgenlandkreis, Saalekreis, Halle, Wittenberg and just in the Salzlandkreis.
In addition, all these easing would be stopped or withdrawn if the infection rate in the national average is three days in a row above the 100 mark.
It has been hovering around 90 for weeks. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health gave the value at 94.86.
Like all of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein is taking further steps in opening up the corona pandemic, defusing the very strict contact rules and expanding shopping opportunities.
Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) was very satisfied on Thursday night.
In the course of the day the Jamaica coalition wants to decide to what extent the possibilities in the retail sector are to be specifically expanded.
Günther then informs the state parliament about this in a special session of parliament.
The federal and state governments had agreed on a “real perspective plan” with “realistic opening steps”, said Günther after midnight.
The contact rules are also being relaxed in the north.
On Wednesday evening, Schleswig-Holstein had 47.7 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.
In addition, 10 out of 15 counties and urban districts were still below the 50 incidence.
The day before, the north had the lowest value of all federal states at 46.4.
The values for other countries were not yet available for Wednesday.
According to the federal-state agreements, meetings of up to five people from two households are permitted from Monday, not including children up to 14 years of age.
Couples living separately are also regarded as one household - Günther advocated this.
Currently, a household can only meet one other person;
Encounters between two couples are still prohibited.
It is still open, among other things, how exactly it will continue in retail from Monday.
The minimal solution would be appointment shopping based on the “Click and Meet” model.
Customers can shop in an otherwise closed shop and get advice if they have made an appointment for this.
So far, apart from supermarkets, garden centers and a few other shops, it has only been possible to collect goods ordered online or by telephone.
It remains to be seen whether there will be any further steps beyond appointment shopping.
The north is below the relevant 50s incidence, but only barely.
He was very happy that everything was deleted from the federal-state resolution paper that would have rejected an Easter holiday, said Günther.
The federal and state governments want to decide on the options for an Easter holiday on March 22nd.
With the agreed new contact rule Schleswig-Holstein could handle well, said Günther.
He had announced on Friday that a further goal would be to enable meetings of five people or two households.