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20 Mar 2020 | 08:20 AM UTC

Germany: Authorities close non-essential businesses nationwide March 16 /update 12

Government extends closure of shops nationwide due to COVID-19 March 16; further spread of the virus expected over the near term



On Monday, March 16, the federal government and states have agreed to close non-essential shops until further notice, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This also includes bars, clubs, theatres, museums, and churches. Grocery stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, post offices, and delivery services are excluded from the ban. Schools and day-care centers have also been closed, while public gatherings of more than 50 people remain prohibited.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that Germany will temporarily impose controls along its borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Denmark as of 08:00 (local time) on Monday, March 16. The restrictions will not affect German citizens re-entering the country and would also not be applied to commuters and goods traffic. According to Seehofer, travelers "without a valid reason to travel" will be prohibited from entering or leaving the country. The directive will remain in effect until further notice.

The first lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been implemented in Mitterteich (Bavaria state) from Thursday, March 19, until Thursday, April 2. Individuals will only be allowed to leave their homes to go to work with special permission from employers, to shop for groceries, go to the pharmacy, doctor, post office, or to provide help for people in need. Citizens can be fined and face up to two years of imprisonment if they violate the containment measures.

As of Thursday, March 19, health officials have confirmed 16,290 cases of COVID-19 in the country. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.