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In Germany

"Lockdown light" during November

Since Monday, November 2, far-reaching restrictions on public life have been in effect in Lower Saxony. Theaters, cinemas and concerts are prohibited, restaurants and pubs are closed. Schools and kindergartens remain open as do shops. With effect from 9 November, new regulations will also apply for those entering and returning from abroad. 


The State of Lower Saxony sets the framework conditions for corona measures and Region Hannover is responsible for their implementation. The Region's website contains the current general decrees and regulations of the Hannover Region.

In the following you will find the history of the regulations issued by the State of Lower Saxony. The most frequent questions arising from the regulations of the state are answered by the Lower Saxony state government here (in German only).


November 6: Ordinance on quarantine measures for foreigners entering and returning from abroad

On November 6, the state government of Lower Saxony published the corresponding ordinance that will come into force on November 9. It regulates that

  • Entry from a risk area must be placed in domestic quarantine for ten days.
  • Entering the country, they must report to the Internet portal www.einreiseanmeldung.de and point out the existence of the quarantine obligation.

The quarantine period can be terminated at the earliest five days after entry. The prerequisite for this is a molecular biological corona test (PCR test) with a negative test result, which may be carried out on the fifth day after entry at the earliest. The underlying test must meet the requirements of the Robert Koch Institute, which are published on the Internet at https://www.rki.de/covid-19-tests.


November 2: Drastic restrictions in public life

Due to the dramatic increase in the number of infections, the German government and the state premiers agreed on 28 October on further drastic measures to contain the corona pandemic. In order to slow down the further spread of the virus, the state government of Lower Saxony wants to limit all contacts that are not absolutely necessary to an absolute minimum. To this end, far-reaching restrictions in public life will apply from Monday, November 2, until the end of November.

  • The stay in the public is to be permitted only with the members of the own and a further household however in each case maximally with 10 persons.
  • Private travel within Germany as well as visits from friends and relatives should be avoided if possible. In the future also supraregional daily tourist trips are to be omitted. Overnight accomodation offers are made available only for necessary and no longer for routistic purposes.
  • All cultural and other institutions that are part of the leisure time activities are to be closed. This concerns all theaters, cinemas, opera and concert halls and similar institutions. Events that serve entertainment purposes are prohibited. All trade fairs and special markets, amusement parks, zoos, animal parks, amusement arcades and similar facilities shall also be closed or prohibited.
  • Leisure and amateur sports activities are prohibited, with the exception of individual sports alone, in pairs or with one's own household on and in all public and private sports facilities; swimming and fun pools, fitness studios and similar facilities are also prohibited. In professional sports there will only be so-called "ghost games" without an audience. Excluded from the closures are facilities for medically necessary treatments and hairdressers.
  • Also affected by the closure are restaurants, bars, clubs, discotheques, pubs and similar facilities. The delivery and collection of take-away food for consumption at home remains possible. The wholesale and retail trade will remain open with strict hygiene requirements.

Schools and kindergartens remain open

Schools and kindergartens should remain open. Industry, trade and medium-sized businesses should also be able to continue to work - employers have a special responsibility to take the necessary protective measures and to permit mobile working at home as far as possible.


8 October: regulations for private celebrations

The new Regulation is shorter and maintains the existing rules in many areas. 

The regulation will enter into force on 9 October and will initially remain in force until 15 November.

Regulations for private meetings and celebrations

  • The maximum number of people in your own rooms is 25, and 50 people outdoors (e.g. in gardens or courtyards).
  • For celebrations in pubs, restaurants and the like, the upper limit is 100 persons. If there are more than 50 participants, no pure spirits may be served or consumed after 18.00 hrs, and a ban on alcohol applies after 22.00 hrs.
  • The upper limit for persons can be further restricted by general decrees of districts or independent towns in the event of an increasing incidence of infection.
  • Regulations for cinemas, theatres and other cultural facilities

With a chessboard layout, good ventilation systems and careful hygiene measures before and after the events, the space capacity can be better utilised. Here applies:

  • A distance of at least one metre from any other person is sufficient if visitors to the event avoid interaction and communication with each other and if enclosed spaces are ventilated by a ventilation system with fresh air supply.
  • If and as long as one is not sitting, a mouth-and-nose cover must be worn.

Trade fairs, congresses, commercial exhibitions, special markets, fairs and similar events

  • Events in which the public participates at least temporarily standing require prior approval. A hygiene concept is a prerequisite.

8 August: compulsory testing for travellers from risk areas

On August 6, Federal Minister of Health Spahn announced that corona tests will become mandatory for people entering Germany from risk areas as of August 8. 


1 August: Changes to daycare centres and schools

The most important changes of the regulation at a glance:

  • The rules for day-care centres and schools have been changed in accordance with the announcements of the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs at the start of the school or day-care centre year 2020/2021.
  • Shisha bars are allowed to open again.
  • The rules for celebrations outside the home and for carriage rides have been supplemented or adapted.
  • Sports activities are permitted in groups of up to 50 (previously: 30) persons.

13. July: New version, old rules

After coming into force on 13 July, the new regulation is valid until 31 August 2020. An exception is made for major events, which are also prohibited until 31 October 2020. However, this was already the case in the previous regulation, which was amended several times. The other rules have also hardly changed at all.

Due to readjustments in the hygiene concept and standardisation of rules, the following changes will be made in detail from 13 July:

  • Restaurants will be allowed to offer buffets again.
  • Point and friendly matches in team sports are again possible.
  • Travel for children and youth groups of up to 50 people is permitted.
  • Old people's homes and nursing homes will in future regulate the number of visitors themselves with their own hygiene concepts; state regulations will no longer apply.
  • The new regulation can be found after publication on the website Regulations of the state government.

6 July: Events with up to 500 people, no mask required when sitting

On Monday, July 6, 2020, the next amendment to the Lower Saxony Ordinance on Infection Prevention Measures will come into force, including the following points:

  • Cultural events in closed rooms can be offered for up to 500 persons on seats. A further requirement is that spectators must maintain a minimum distance of one and a half metres from other guests if they do not belong to a group of a maximum of ten people.
  • In the cinema the mouth-nose cover can be removed when the customers are sitting.
  • A distance of 1.5 metres must be maintained during carriage rides, boat trips, guided tours of the city and other similar offers, unless they are members of their own household and another household or a common group of up to ten people.
  • The safety distance of two metres for sporting activities does not apply to fixed small groups of up to 30 people. This means that soccerl training, for example, is possible again.

5 June: Pubs, Indoor Swimming Pools can Open, Open-Air Events up to 250 People Possible

On Monday, 8 June 2020, the next amendment to the "Lower Saxony Ordinance on Infection Prevention Measures" will come into force, which contains the following points:

Allowed under compliance with the distance regulations and hygiene measures as well as the documentation obligations are

  • Outdoor cultural events for up to 250 people on seats
  • Tourist bus tours
  • Indoor and fun swimming pools
  • Bars and pubs with the exception of Sisha bars
  • Special outdoor markets with costs
  • Operation of driving schools
  • Sports in groups of up to ten people under supervision
  • Offers for children and young people for up to ten people through youth organisations and volunteers
  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies for up to 50 people

Not allowed to open

  • Discos, clubs and Sisha bars
  • theatres, opera houses, concert halls, cinemas
  • Saunas
  • Prostitution industry

The Regulation is to apply for the time being until 22 June.


25 May: Swimming Pools, Leisure Parks and Gyms can Open

As of Monday, 25 May, the following facilities, among others, can thus reopen, subject to compliance with hygiene concepts and distance regulations

    - Sports facilities for contactless sports, indoor and outdoor facilities
    - Open air swimming pools
    - Gyms
    - Leisure parks, climbing gardens, miniature golf courses
    - Information centres
Among other things, the following are also permitted again
    - Boat trips
    - Carriage rides
    - Cable car rides (at 50 percent occupancy)
    - Boat and bicycle rental
    - City tours (up to ten people)

The following are still not permitted or closed
    - Bus tours
    - Exhibitions
    - Cinemas
    - Theatre
    - Indoor swimming pools
    - Indoor playgrounds


8 May: Rules for gastronomy from 11 May

From Monday, 11 May, restaurants, pubs, cafés and beer gardens in Lower Saxony will be able to reopen, with no limit on opening hours, but with organisational restrictions.
As special rules for the catering trade are also to be observed:
    - Only a maximum of 50% of the seating capacity available before the Corona closure may be occupied at any time.
    - Tables must be arranged at a minimum distance of 2 m from each other in the restaurant area.
    - Guests are requested to make reservations in advance.
    - Guests must leave their name and a telephone number as contact details for traceability.
    - Mouth and nose protection is mandatory for service personnel, but not for guests at the table.
    - Customers are only served at the table. In self-service, only ready-made dishes can be served. Operators and customers are obliged to ensure that a distance of 1.50 metres is maintained at all times between customers to whom the current contact restrictions apply.
    - Buffets are not permitted.
    - No items for common use on the tables (no menus, spice stands, flyers etc.).
    - The layout in the dining area must be such that guests cannot come into contact with food that has been prepared (for example, no salad islands in steak restaurants, generally no open kitchens).
    - The guests are to be informed about the company's infection protection and the applied hygiene concept on a notice board.
The reservation recommendation also applies to beer gardens and ice cream parlours. However, as Schröder from the crisis management team explained, this recommendation can also be complied with by a phone call shortly before arriving at the beer garden.
(Update of 11 May: The regulation speaks of a recommendation and not of a reservation obligation)


6 May: Local regulations in future

The Minister President explained that the step-by-step plan for Lower Saxony's path to a new everyday life presented on 4 May would be relaxed with regard to the contact restrictions on 11 May: From that date on, two households are allowed to meet; for example, Stephan Weil mentioned that two couples could meet in a restaurant. Furthermore, in the future, regulations would not be set nationwide, but in the federal states depending on the incidence of infection in the individual municipalities or districts.

Lower Saxony's way into a new everyday life

Stage 1 (previous relaxations and new regulations up to and including 6 May)
Trade / Services
    - Trade: Shops for daily needs remain open. Car dealerships, bicycle and book shops reopened. Other retail trade up to a sales area of more than 800 square metres reopened. Special regulations for Sunday opening are abolished.
    - Services: Hairdressers' shops reopened. All other personal services are still prohibited.
Tourism / Gastronomy
    - Tourism: second homes and permanent camping - only for the owners - is permitted again. The restrictions on transport to the East Frisian islands no longer apply.
    - Accommodation for tourist is otherwise prohibited.
    - Gastronomy is closed with the exception of pick-up-service and company canteens.
Education
    - Childcare facilities remain closed except for emergency care, which has been extended to all professions of general public interest. New: Small groups at home for emergency care are also permitted.
    - Presence lessons in a new form for the school years 13, 9/10, new: 4 and analogous to BBS. Otherwise Home Learning.
    - Summer semester at universities in the form of digital courses
    - adult education facilities and other educational institutions remain closed.
Sports / Leisure / Culture
    - New: Opening of outdoor sports facilities for all sports where a minimum distance of 2m is guaranteed.
    - New: Outdoor playgrounds are opened with restrictions.
    - New: Opening of museums, open air museums
  - New: Opening museums, open-air museums, zoos/animal parks (outdoor areas only) and similar, botanical gardens and similar (outdoor areas only).
    - New: Opening of drive-in cinemas and similar forms.
    - Other leisure/cultural facilities remain closed.
Events
    - Public events remain prohibited, demonstrations are subject to permission.
    - New: Meetings in rooms dedicated to worship and religious practice are again possible.
Private restrictions
    - Two-person rule in public space (with defined exceptions).
    - Mouth and nose cover in public transport and retail.
Stage 2 (implementation planned by 11 May)
Trade / Services
    - New: Opening of the retail trade without sales area restrictions. Restrictions remain in place (customer restrictions/ sales area, distance/ hygiene, masks) 
    - services: Hairdressers already open. New: Similar services such as beauty shops, nail studios and the like with appropriate hygiene concepts and training certificates.
Tourism / Gastronomy
    - New: Authorisation of accommodation for tourist purposes in holiday apartments/houses, camping sites, boat moorings and caravan parks. Minimum period of occupancy of 7 days for holiday apartments/houses and a maximum occupancy rate of 50% for camping sites, boat moorings and caravan sites.
    - Accommodation for tourist purposes remains prohibited for hotels, pensions, youth hostels and similar.
    - New: Opening of gastronomy (in- and outdoors), but limited to restaurants, pubs, cafés, beer gardens under restrictions such as max. 50% occupancy. Bars, pubs, discotheques and the like remain closed.
Childcare / Education
    - Daycare facilities for children will remain closed with the exception of emergency care, which will, however, be gradually expanded (target figure 40%).
    - NEW: Child day care will return to regular operation. (Period: from 11 May)
    - Classroom instruction in a new form for examination years 13, 9/10, 4 and new: school years 12, 9/10, 3rd analogous regulation at the BBS. Otherwise Home Learning.
    - Summer semester at universities in the form of digital courses
    - NEW: Adult education and other educational institutions will be reopened under the same conditions as schools.
Sports / Leisure / Culture
    - Outdoor sports facilities are open for all sports where minimum distance is guaranteed throughout.
    - Outdoor playgrounds are open.
    - Museums, open-air museums, zoos/animal parks (outdoor areas only) and similar, botanical gardens and similar (outdoor areas only) are open.
    - Drive-in cinemas and similar forms are permitted.
    - Other sports, leisure/cultural facilities remain closed.
Events
    - Public events remain prohibited, demonstrations are subject to permission.
    - Meetings are permitted in rooms dedicated to worship and religious practice.
Private restrictions
    - Two-person rule in public space (with defined exceptions).
    - Mouth and nose cover in public transport and retail.
Stage 3 (implementation planned by 29 May)
Trade / Services
    - Retail trade is open without sales space restrictions, but with restrictions.
    - services: New: All personal services are permitted again (in compliance with hygiene concepts).
Tourism / Gastronomy
    - New: Opening of hotels, pensions, youth hostels etc. (max. 50% occupancy, exclusion of fitness and wellness areas, re-occupancy period of at least 7 days).
    - New: Extension of the opening of gastronomy (in- and outdoors), but limited to restaurants, pubs, cafés, beer gardens on the basis of a concept yet to be presented MW, MS, Dehoga, NGG, municipalities. Bars, pubs, discotheques and the like remain closed.
Education
    - Daycare facilities for children will remain closed with the exception of emergency care, which will, however, be gradually expanded (target figure 40%).
    - Presence teaching in a new form NEW: for all school years, ditto BBS. Otherwise Home Learning.
    - Summer semester at universities in the form of digital courses
    - Adult education and other educational institutions are open.
Sports / Leisure / Culture
    - New: Open-air swimming pools will be opened in case of a limited number of persons and additional hygiene requirements.
    - New: Other leisure facilities (outdoor only) will be opened with restrictions on the number of persons and with increased hygiene requirements (e.g. mini golf, cable cars, leisure parks etc.)
    - Outdoor sports facilities are opened for all sports where minimum distance is ensured throughout.
    - Outdoor playgrounds are open.
- Museums, open-air museums, zoos/animal parks (outdoor areas only) and similar, botanical gardens and similar (outdoor areas only) are open.
    - Other indoor sports, leisure/cultural facilities remain closed.
Events
    - Public events remain prohibited, demonstrations are subject to permission.
    - Meetings are permitted in rooms dedicated to worship and religious practice.
Private restrictions
    - Review of the two-person rule in public spaces (with defined exceptions).
    - Mouth and nose cover in public transport and retail trade.
Level 4
Trade / Services
    - Retail trade is open without sales space restrictions, but with restrictions.
    - All personal services are permitted (subject to compliance with hygiene concepts).
Tourism / Gastronomy
    - New: Extension of the opening of hotels, pensions, youth hostels etc. on the basis of a concept yet to be presented MW, MS, Dehoga, NGG, municipalities.
    - Gastronomy (in- and outdoors) is open, but limited to restaurants, pubs, cafés, beer gardens and under restrictions. Bars, pubs, discotheques and the like remain closed.
Education
    - Daycare facilities for children will remain closed with the exception of emergency care, which will be gradually expanded (target figure 50%).
    - Classroom instruction is provided for all school years.
    - New: school trips are permitted again.
    - The summer semester will remain digital, arrangements have been made for the winter semester.
    - Adult education and other educational institutions are open.
Sports / Leisure / Culture
    - Outdoor sports facilities for all sports where minimum distance is ensured throughout are open.
    - Outdoor playgrounds and outdoor pools are open.
    - Museums, open-air museums, zoos/animal parks (outdoor areas only) and similar, botanical gardens and similar (outdoor areas only) are open.
    - New: Opening of indoor sports facilities for all sports where minimum distance is guaranteed throughout. At level 3, it will be checked whether it is possible to bring forward.
    - New: Opening of indoor swimming pools
    - Other indoor leisure/cultural facilities will remain closed.
Events
    - New: Successive admission of further public events with less than 1,000 participants.
    - New: Demonstrations again exclusively according to the provisions of the right of assembly
    - Meetings are permitted in rooms dedicated to worship and religious practice.
    - The marksken's funfair "Schützenfest" and similar events remain prohibited (not before 31 August)
Private Restrictions
    - Review of the two-person rule in public spaces (with defined exceptions).
    - Mouth and nose cover in public transport and retail trade.
Step 5
Trade / Services
    - Trade: New: Lifting of all restrictions
    - services: New: Lifting of all restrictions.
Tourism / Gastronomy
    - New: Overnight tourism without restrictions again permitted.
    - Gastronomy (in- and outdoors) is open, but limited to restaurants, pubs, cafés, beer gardens under restrictions such as compulsory reservation. Bars, pubs, discotheques and the like remain closed.
Education
    - Regular operation in day-care centres will be resumed with the new childcare year (August).
    - Attendance classes are held for all school years.
    - The summer semester will remain digital, arrangements have been made for the winter semester.
    - Adult education facilities and other educational institutions are open.
Sports / Leisure / Culture
    - New: Opening of the facilities for all sports
    - New: In addition to outdoor playgrounds, indoor playgrounds will also be opened under certain conditions
    - Museums, open-air museums, zoos/animal parks (outdoor areas only) and similar, botanical gardens and similar (outdoor areas only) are open.
    - New: Opening of  wellness areas and saunas under certain conditions
    - New: Opening of other indoor leisure/cultural facilities (cinemas, theatres, etc.)
Events
    - Successive admission of further public events.
    - Demonstrations exclusively according to the provisions of the right of assembly
    - Meetings are permitted in rooms dedicated to worship and religious practice.
    - Events with more than 1,000 participants remain prohibited (not before 31 August)
    - The marksken's funfair "Schützenfest" and similar events remain prohibited (not before 31 August)
Private restrictions
    - Review of the two-person rule in public spaces (with defined exceptions).
    - Mouth and nose cover in public transport and retail trade.


March 22: The following guidelines are now in effect:

  1. Residents should continue to keep all contact to people not living in the same household to an absolute minimum.
  2. When residents are in public, they should keep an at least 1.5 meters distance from all those not part of their household.
  3. It is only permitted for people to be out in public space either alone, with one other person who does not live in the same household, or with those who do live in the same household.
  4. Of course, going outside for the purposes of: getting to work, going to emergency daycare, grocery shopping, doctors appointments, attending meetings, required appointments and tests, helping others, or getting exercize or fresh air, as well as other necessary activities are still permitted.
  5. Parties in public spaces, apartments, or private institutions are unacceptable given the current situation throughout the country. Refusal to adhere to these contact restrictions will result in surveillance by the police or other law enforcement agencies and will be punished.
  6. All restaurants and business serving food will be closed. Delivery and pick-up service for the purpose of at home consumption, however, will still be allowed.
  7. Businesses specializing in personal hygiene such as hair salons, cosmetic studios, massage practices, tattoo studios and other, similar business will be closed, as this work requires very close personal contact. Medically necessary treatments will, however, still be possible.
  8. In all businesses, especially those with a lot of foot traffic, it is important to adhere to the suggested hygiene measures for the safety of customers and workers alike.
  9. These measures will be in effect for at least the next two weeks.

Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil (SPD), stated his position: “We were successful today in agreeing to a unified approach to restricting personal contact on the federal level. In Lower Saxony, as well as all of Germany, it now applies that all contact between individuals not living within the same household has to be brought to an absolute minimum. That is the only way we will be able to slow down the speed of infection of the Corona Virus SARS-CoV-2. Drastic measures taken now to prevent personal contact will help curb the uncontrollable nature of infection and prevent further disadvantages brought on by a lock down.”

Leaving your home is not what is dangerous, said Weil, but rather engaging in direct personal contact with people with whom you do not live. It is important and medically necessary to continue to get exercize outside in the fresh air. However, even outside, contact with another person remains risky.

Weil also said, “I realize that the intensification of these measures limits the freedom of the people of Lower Saxony. It is, however, necessary, as the current situation remains very serious. We have to do everything we can to prevent further deaths caused by the Corona virus. This past weekend marked the first deaths in Lower Saxony. It is imperative that we do our best to reduce the rate of infection at this time. We must do everything in our power to ensure that our healthcare system remains strong and able to assist those who need it. Even while we are reducing our personal contact to one another, I ask that we stick together and show solidarity. Please do what you can—pick up the phone, reach out digitally, or write a good old-fashioned letter—to keep in good contact and to further strengthen your relationships with those around you who are especially lonely and need of assistance. We help each other get through this difficult time by keeping the required minimum distance.”

March 20: Restaurants and Cafes to close completely starting on March 21st, delivery service still allowed

Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) told of a new order at the state press conference on March 20: all restaurants and cafes in Lower Saxony must close their doors starting Saturday evening at 6 pm. According to Weil, all northern German states had agreed to this measure geared at preventing the spread of the Corona virus. Deliveries and pick ups are the exception to the rule. As Weil said, “no one should worry about not being able to get a pizza from their favorite Italian restaurant.” The purposed of this measure is simply to prevent that too many people gather together in one room.

Weil emphasized that there will be no lock down. However, there have been restrictions on leaving your home in Lower Saxony since March 16, including gatherings of large numbers of people no longer being allowed. Right now, the limit on gatherings is 10 people, though that will probably be further reduced. “There will be adjustments over the next few days, but very few of us will affected,” said Weil.

March 16: Closure of cultural institutions, shops, playgrounds, etc.

As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 6 a.m., many cultural institutions, shops, and playgrounds must remain closed. Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Weil announced further protective measures on March 16, which are being coordinated nationwide and will be in effect until April 18.

At the press conference, the State Government of Lower Saxony disclosed additional measures to fight the Corona Virus pandemic.

The following businesses will remain open:

  • Businesses essential to daily needs, such as groceries and feed stores, farmer’s markets, delivery services, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, gas stations, banks, post offices, laundromats, animal supply stores, hardware stores, and wholesale trade will remain open. The ban on stores being open on Sundays will also be lifted. Rules about keeping a safe physical distance still apply at these locations.

The following will be closed:

  • Bars, clubs, discos, and similar establishments
  • Theaters, opera houses, museums, concert houses, libraries, and other similar institutions
  • Trade fairs, exhibitions, movie theaters, zoos, theme parks, recreational business (indoor and outdoor), special markets, casinos/gambling halls, and other similar establishments
  • Brothels and other business offering sexual services (ex. Lovemobile)
  • Sporting events and exercising in private and public sport facilities, gyms, fitness studios, fields, tracks, swimming pools, saunas, and similar facilities
  • All playgrounds, including indoor playgrounds
  • All retail outlets, in particular outlet centers, including those in shopping centers

All gatherings of people in enclosed spaces and in public are prohibited, including:

  • Meetings in clubs and other sports and leisure facilities, taking advantage of offers of adult education centers, music schools and other public and extracurricular private educational institutions as well as bus tours
  • Gatherings in churches, mosques, synagogue, temples, or in other houses of faith, including meetings in community centers
  • All public events, excluding meetings of local representatives and committees as well as the state parliament and associated committees
  • All outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more
  • All private events with more than 50 guests

The goal of these measures is to slow down the rate of infection. The measures will be reviewed as to their efficacy after a period of twelve days.