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Which measures have been adopted in Niedersachsen to contain the virus, and what rules do I have to comply with? (Last updated: 22 March 2020)

  1. Contact with people other than the members of your own household must be reduced to the absolute minimum that is strictly necessary.

  2. Contact with people outside your home is permitted only if the following mandatory conditions are observed:
    a) a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from other people must be maintained in public. Assembling in groups or having picnics or barbecues is not permitted.
    b) Individuals may use public spaces but may not be accompanied by more than one person.

This restriction does not apply to family members and/or people who share a residence.

The following activities and exercises are permitted:

  • outdoor physical and sports activities (e.g. jogging, walking, etc.)
  • work activities
  • visits to doctors for medical treatments and the use of medical services (e.g. psychotherapy and physiotherapy, to the extent that there is an urgent medical necessity for them).
  • visits to other health care shops, such as pharmacies, medical supply shops, opticians, hearing aid providers and drugstores.
  • visits to spouses or partners, the elderly, sick or disabled people (outside of care facilities!) and for the purposes of the custody of children in the private sphere
  • visits to administrative authorities, courts, other sovereign entities and to other offices or facilities providing services under public law
  • providing for, looking after or exercising animals kept by yourself or animals which you are legally obliged to care for

The following facilities are closed to the public:

  • restaurants, pubs, places serving food
  • bars, clubs, discos and cultural centres or similar establishments
  • theatres, operas, concert halls, cabarets, museums, libraries and similar establishments (irrespective of the nature of the organising body or ownership)
  • trade fairs, exhibitions, cinemas, zoos, as well as leisure and safari parks, providers of leisure activities (e.g. indoor playgrounds, climbing parks, mini-golf courses, escape rooms, etc.), specialist markets, gaming halls and casinos, betting shops and similar establishments
  • brothels, locations where sex workers commercially offer sexual services and similar establishments
  • all other sales points of retail services to the extent that they are not required for daily life or to secure supplies (this includes outlet centres, including sales points in shopping malls)

Likewise, all sports activities in all public and private sports facilities have been suspended. This includes all swimming pools and leisure pools, fitness centres, saunas and similar facilities. And unfortunately this also includes all playgrounds, play areas in parks and indoor playgrounds.

With immediate effect, it is also prohibited to provide accommodation to people for the purposes of tourism.

This applies to:

  • hotels and guesthouses
  • hostels and youth hostels
  • private and commercial rental of holiday apartments, holiday lodgings, and of sleeping accommodation and arrangements (e.g. also AirBnB)
  • Camping sites and rest places for caravans

All facilities that are necessary for daily life and that ensure an uninterrupted supply for the population remain open.

These are:

  • all retail trade in food, i.e. supermarkets, discount shops, bakeries and beverage shops
  • fresh produce markets
  • pharmacies, drugstores and medical supply shops
  • banks, savings banks and post offices
  • opticians and hearing aid providers
  • shops for animal supplies
  • petrol stations and newspaper vendors
  • car and bicycle repair shops
  • dry cleaners and laundromats
  • wholesale trade

DIY and gardening shops remain open only for commercial customers, i.e. not for private individuals. delivery services (food, beverages, etc.) and off-premises sales are allowed.

Likewise, service providers in the healthcare sector remain open for medical services that cannot be delayed (e.g. physiotherapy or psychotherapy).

At all facilities, a minimum space of 1.5 metres must be observed and guaranteed. In case of doubt, temporary restrictions on the number of people must be imposed.

Very important: the supply of daily necessities and food is ensured! Panic buying is not sensible: it shows a lack of consideration for others and should be avoided.
for the following reasons:

  • There are currently no bottlenecks in the food supply.
  • In general, despite increased demand for certain products, retailers can fill empty shelves at a good pace, as the warehouses are well stocked.
  • This is, however, dependent on every individual showing consideration for and solidarity with others.
  • Think carefully and maintain a sense of proportion when replenishing the supplies you have at home. Hoarding food that will not be consumed is superfluous and contrary to your own financial interests, and in the worst case can harm the public in general, in other words to your fellow human beings.

Please bear in mind that the government may impose even further restrictions at any time.

For continuously updated information, as well as for answers to frequent questions, please see: www.niedersachsen.de/coronavirus

Preventing the spread of the virus - Everyone can contribute!

Instructions regarding hygiene and conduct:
How to reduce your risk of becoming ill with the virus

By following a few, simple rules for hygiene, every one of us can help to prevent the coronavirus from spreading faster. Protecting yourself and especially those who are especially at risk from Covid-19 is particularly important and can be achieved by observing a few simple rules.

While young people in particular often experience relatively mild symptoms, Covid-19 presents an elevated and grave health risk for other groups of people. In Niedersachsen, we are already mourning people who died after contracting the virus.

In this regard, the Robert Koch Institute explains:

While the virus may result in severe illness in people without pre-existing medical conditions, the following groups of people are at increased risk of becoming severely ill:

  • Elderly people (with a steadily increasing risk of severe complications from around 50-60 years)
  • Smokers
  • People with certain pre-existing conditions:
    • of the heart (e.g. coronary heart diseases),
    • of the lungs (e.g. asthma, chronic bronchitis),
    • patients with chronic liver disease
    • patients with diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
    • cancer patients
    • patients with a weakened immune system (e.g. due to an illness associated with an immunity deficiency or due to medication that weakens the immune system, e.g. cortisone)

Make sure to protect yourself thoroughly and thereby help to protect those for whom Covid-19 is a substantial threat - elderly people, people with a pre-existing health condition, in other words more than every third person in Niedersachsen!

By following simple hygiene rules, you can make a valuable contribution:

  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially if you have been outdoors in public spaces.
  • Keep a distance: Keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people.
  • Cough and sneeze correctly: If you have to cough or sneeze, turn away from other people and use a tissue, which you must throw away immediately afterwards. If you don’t have a tissue to hand, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm to protect other people. If possible, wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

However, the best protection is time: Stay at home and avoid unnecessary social contact!

What do I do if I suspect I have coronavirus?

If you suspect that you have been infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, first go through this checklist of questions:

  1. Have you been to a risk area as defined by the Robert Koch Institute in the 14 days prior to experiencing symptoms or did you meet with someone from such an area, and have now developed flu-like symptoms?
  2. In the past 14 days, have you been in a region which is not described as a risk area, but where Covid-19 cases have occurred, and have now developed symptoms such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath?
  3. Have you had personal contact with a person with a confirmed Covid-19 infection?

If your answer to one or more questions is yes, please follow these steps:

  1. First contact your GP by phone. If your GP is not available, you can also contact the medical on-call service by calling 116 117.
  2. Describe your symptoms on the phone, along with the country you have visited or your contact with a person who has tested positive.
  3. Your doctor will make a provisional assessment of your health condition and discuss the further process with you, e.g. schedule a date for the test or quarantine measures.
  4. Follow the instructions of your doctor and make yourself available for any questions that the responsible authorities may have.

The consultation and coordination with the responsible health authorities in Niedersachsen is done by the doctor concerned, and not directly by the patient.

The state is currently setting up regional test centres in collaboration with the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Niedersachsen (KVN) at clinics or at the premises of the health authorities in all 37 counties and in the 8 urban municipalities of Niedersachsen.

In counties where no test centres have been set up as yet, mobile test teams are operational, which can test patients at their home in justified cases. In addition, the KVN has established a distribution centre for protective clothing for use by the doctors and trained medical staff at the test centres and in the mobile test teams.

According to the KVN, the procedure for these test centres is as follows:

In justified cases, patients report by telephone to their GP or, after hours, to the on-call service of the statutory health insurance physicians (telephone: 116 117).

The GP or on-call doctor will question the patient on the phone and classify the case. If the patient requires testing, the doctor will arrange by telephone for an appointment with the central testing facility to obtain a swab.

After the swab has been obtained at the central testing facility, the patient should remain at home until the result is available. The GP and/or the on-call doctor will inform the patient about their test result.

In the event of a positive result, the doctor will discuss the further steps with the patient and with the participation of the responsible health authority.

For important telephone numbers for questions regarding the coronavirus, please visit:

www.niedersachsen.de/coronavirus (in German)

Information for employees

In addition to the general hygiene measures, employees should also observe the following at their workplace:

  • Do not share work materials, such as pens, with other people.
  • Also make sure not to share items such as cups or other dishes with other people.
  • Refrain from shaking hands even when you are dealing with clients.

Under certain circumstances, and especially in the case of a suspected Sars-CoV-2 infection, the responsible authorities may also impose quarantine measures on the public. During such a period, you would not be permitted to leave a specified location.

Employees and their employers, as well as self-employed people may suffer a loss of income as a result. In Niedersachsen, the responsible county or city administration will reimburse this loss in accordance with the provisions of the Infektionsschutzgesetz (Infection Protection Act - IfSG). In order to be eligible, the quarantine must have been imposed by the responsible authority. No claim shall apply in the case of unfitness for work, holiday and temporary inability to work pursuant to Section 616 BGB (German Civil Code).

If you cannot go to your workplace due to an imposed quarantine, you may be eligible under certain circumstances for monetary compensation pursuant to Section 56(1) IfSG. For a period of six weeks after the start of the loss of income, you are entitled to remuneration pursuant to Section 56(2) and (3) IfSG in the amount of the lost income.

Due to the state-wide closing of schools and daycare centres as of 16 March 2020 until 18 April 2020 (for now), please pay close attention to the following information:

If your child’s school or daycare centre is closed due to the coronavirus, you must first look for an alternative means of childcare. If there are demonstrably no alternative means of childcare, the last resort is to stay at home and look after your children. However, you should always discuss this with your employer and look for a joint solution, such as (unpaid) leave or working from home.

For employees in the following sectors: care, healthcare, medicine, public safety, such as police force, justice, emergency services, fire brigades and civil protection, as well as to maintain necessary public services, an emergency childminding service for pupils up to grade 8 (maximum) will be offered by schools. Emergency groups may also be set up at daycare centres.

Employers who voluntarily close their business operations remain obliged to pay their employees their wages and salaries. In this case, the employee is willing to work and may therefore not suffer any disadvantage due to this closure. In the case of a forced closure, the obligation to pay wages and salaries remains in effect, as this type of situation is part of the employer’s operational risks. This situation is governed by Section 615 BGB.

If you have any questions in this regard, you can contact your local authority.

Information for schools and daycare centres

All general and vocational schools will remain closed from 16 March 2020 until 18 April 2020, subject to further notice. The same applies to daycare facilities, day nurseries and other childminding facilities that require a licence to operate.

All school excursions and trips within Germany and abroad that were planned for the current school year must be cancelled by the school administration.

From 16 March 2020 until 18 April 2020 (for now), no classes will be held at general public and vocational schools. Exception: As of 15 April 2020, classes will be offered for high school students in their final school year. The same applies to private schools. Educational classes in learning groups or as a class on the school premises or at other alternative locations, including all-day operation, is cancelled without exception.

The grading of pupils is guaranteed, as are the final exams for the upper secondary level (Sekundarbereich I) and the final school-leaving examination. The schools will provide information on the relevant details in special notices. Minister of Education Mr Tonne emphasised that ‘no pupil will suffer any disadvantage’.

The Niedersachsen Ministry of Education has also issued instructions that all school excursions and trips within Germany and abroad, study trips, day trips, student exchanges and visits by foreign visiting groups that were planned for the current school year must be cancelled by the school administration. To avoid or reduce cancellation costs, schools shall firstly strive to postpone the trip to a period after the summer holidays.

Daycare facilities, day nurseries and other childminding facilities that require a licence to operate also remain closed until 18 April 2020.

For employees in the following sectors: care, healthcare, medicine, public safety such as the police force, justice, emergency services, fire brigades and civil protection, as well as to maintain necessary public services, an emergency childminding service for pupils up to grade 8 (maximum) will be offered by schools. Emergency groups may also be set up at daycare centres.

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