It's going into overtime: infection numbers are falling slightly, but even so, the targeted goal of a 7-day incidence of 50 is still a long way off. In addition, mutations of the virus give rise to fears that the infection figures would rise uncontrollably in the case of relaxations. Therefore, as expected, a nationwide extension of the lockdown until at least 14 February was decided today. In Hesse, the Corona Cabinet met today to evaluate the decisions taken yesterday and to make appropriate deductions for Hesse. The result is that things in Hesse will remain broadly as they have been in recent weeks - with a few tightenings. These concern in particular the mask obligation. As of Saturday, medical masks must be worn on public transport, in shops, and at religious services and similar events. These can be, but do not have to be the quite expensive FFP2 masks. Even surgical masks can be used.
In detail, the regulations for Hesse from 23.01. - 14.02.2021 look as follows:
Enhanced mask obligation in public transport, in shops and religious services
When riding the bus and train as well as when shopping, the recommended minimum distances can not always be safely observed. Therefore, medical masks must be worn in both areas in the future. In addition to FFP2 masks, this also includes surgical masks. These masks provide better protection against transmission of the virus than simple everyday masks.
Medical masks must also be worn in church services. The requirement also applies in the square, although a 1.5 metre minimum distance must be maintained here. Congregational singing remains prohibited - despite the mask requirement.
The state is also providing 1 million medical masks to Hesse's food banks so they can distribute them to people in need.
Schools and childcare:
Hesse's regulations on schools and childcare remain in place. Students are expected to stay away from face-to-face classes through Grade 6 wherever possible. (Currently, less than 20 percent of those students are in school). From Year 7 onwards there is distance teaching with the exception of final year classes. Classwork generally does not take place.
For daycare centers, the same rule still applies: parents should - wherever possible - care for their children at home. It is still permitted for up to three families to join together to form childcare communities and take turns looking after the children.
To make it easier for parents to look after their children at home, the child sickness benefit was extended this week. This means that every parent is entitled to spend 20 days (previously 10 days) at home looking after their own child this year and receive children's sick pay. As a rule, this corresponds to 90 percent of the lost net salary. The entitlement applies not only as usual when the child is ill, but also when daycare centers and schools are only open on a limited basis and parents therefore have a childcare problem.
Should the infection situation worsen in the coming weeks, more far-reaching restrictions and closures are possible.
To further reduce social contacts, the work in the home office should also be expanded in Hesse. The corresponding decision of the video conference of the Chancellor with the heads of government of the states Hesse expressly supports. The state administration will also increase corresponding efforts to further increase the home office share - where possible.
Additional protection of old people's and nursing homes:
Visitors may only enter old people's and nursing homes if they can show a current negative Corona test.
Strengthened quarantine regulation for entrants from Corona virus variant area:
Whoever enters Hesse from a Corona virus variant area must immediately go into quarantine. Testing to end quarantine is possible after five days at the earliest. Exceptions are only made for persons who are transporting goods or persons across borders or who are urgently required for the maintenance of public health and who have been there for less than 72 hours. Even a Corona vaccination or passed disease does not exempt from the quarantine obligation. Corona virus variant areas currently include the UK and South Africa in particular because of an increased incidence of mutant Corona virus.
Ban on alcohol in public places:
It remains illegal to drink alcohol in busy public places. The appropriate places and facilities will be determined locally.
Ban on busy places of excursion
At an incidence of 200 new infections per 100.000 inhabitants within the last 7 days are to be closed by the districts or cities with high publicity by suitable measures, in which e.g. parking lots are closed or the entry of the excursion destinations is prohibited. The previous 15-km radius rule is no longer applicable.
These closures, as well as nighttime curfews, should also be considered if a reduction of the 7-day incidence to 50 new infections by mid-February is not realistic by other means.
Concluding, Bouffier stressed, "We are aware that the past few weeks have been tough and very challenging for many people, and that the coming weeks will not be any easier. But the measures that we are taking now and that we have to stick to now will help us to slowly and gradually also make more possible again."