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Letter from... Berlin

20 April 2020

By Geert Harzman, Senior Consultant, SEC Newgate

Last week, after a four-week shutdown, the Federal Government and the governments of the Federal States in Germany decided to ease the initial lockdown restrictions. The decision was made following a sustained decrease in newly reported infections and highlighted the effectiveness of the shutdown measures.

For the whole of Germany, smaller retail shops, car and bicycle dealers, bookstores and, from the beginning of May, hairdressers will be allowed to reopen. School lessons will also be resumed step by step. Some individual Federal States, however, have decided to further ease current restrictions with the reopening of zoos, museums and exhibitions but also the possibility of smaller public meetings. Whilst these States have expressed their authority in these measures, all reopened operations must comply with strict hygenic regulations imposed across the country.

In general, the measures are not without controversy. While some medical scientists consider the measures to be too far-reaching, business associations point out that the burdens on businesses will no longer be bearable. According to the national Hotel and Restaurant Association, 70,000 hotels and restaurants are facing insolvency.

The next review will take place at the beginning of May. At the moment it is completely open to debate whether the relaxations will be extended or tightened again in case of a possible increase in the number of additional infections. As a nation we will be watching these figures with caution and concern, whilst grateful that we may be starting to see success in the battle.