Locking down further

It was one of those moments yesterday, that I suspect we won’t forget in a long time. At 6pm I sat down with the children and watched Chancellor Angela Merkel announce the measures that will take effect tomorrow.

Previously the town of Oberursel had announced a series of its own measures, including shutting playgrounds and other outdoor facilities until further notice. The rubbish tip will remain closed. The swimming pool will remain closed. Bus services will be reduced. Bus drivers will no longer serve tickets.

Then came the 6pm press conference, and the national rules. Something almost unheard of in the Federal system in Germany of the past 70 years.

With the exception of supermarkets, weekly markets, delivery services, collection services, drinks shops, chemists, petrol stations, medical suppliers, banks, building societies, post offices, hair dressers, dry cleaners, launderetts, newspaper sellers, DIY stores, gardening stores, animal food stores and wholesalers, all shops are to close.

Bars, clubs, discos, pubs and similar establishments are to close, as are theatres, cinemas, exibitions, trade fairs, zoos and leisure parks. All public and private sports grounds are to close, as well as swimming pools, playgrounds, and fitness studios.

Restaurants are only allowed to open between 6am and 6pm. Tables should be set apart and the number of guests limited.

Hotel rooms are not to be used by tourists.

In addition to the information from the press conference, a number of borders with Germany were already being closed to everyone except goods traffic, people with cross-border jobs and returning German nationals.

Many of the islands in the North Sea and Baltic Sea are being cut off from the mainland, with no visitors allowed and only their residents being allowed to return. Tourists are being asked to leave.

Working from home is not really a problem. Co-ordinating it with two children doing their schoolwork from home is something new.

Germany is going into lockdown

To stop the spread of the Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2/COVID19), different states are adopting different measures. But effectively, the whole country is going into lockdown. Where you are depends on what is going to happen.

Schools in most areas are closed from next week until the end of the Easter holidays. Hessen is taking a different approach and leaving the schools open, but attendence will no longer be compulsory for the children. Children whose parents work in the medical or care professions, or with the emergency services, will be cared for the their teachers. Other have to stay at home. Similar restrictions will apply to children in Kindergarten and after-school care.

Public events are being cancelled. Events in Hessen with more than 100 people are now officially banned. In some areas the threshhold is 50. Museums and theatres are closing. Some libraries are closing, others are staying open. Churce services are being cancelled.

If you are infected, then you need to be able to self-isolate for 14 days. So this has led to panic buying for the past couple weeks. Milk is often sold out, as is toilet paper and pasta. After the announcement on Friday evening about children staying at home, the shops emptied even further on Saturay. Now even fresh vegetables are hard to find.

Empty shelves in a German supermarket

We are told that the supply chains are working, and sometimes things do arrive. Suddenly a shop will have stocks of things back in, but these quickly sell out again as they can hardly keep up with the demand.

Home schooling is normally banned in Germany. On Monday, it will temporarily become the norm. As will eating and cooking at home, and hunting for things in multiple supermarkets rather than having a wide choice.

It’s carnival time

The next few weeks in Germany will see all sorts of carnival activities taking place, and one of the first ones in many towns is the Rathaussturm where the carnival princes and princesses take over control of the town halls and send the Mayors on holiday until Ash Wednesday.

The Mayors do not usually give in that easily, and a verbal exchange often takes place outside the town hall before the ceremonial key is finally handed over, much to the delight of the onlookers. Although once inside the building, the princes and princesses are likely to found out that the town’s treasure chest is empty.

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