The lockdown was first introduced with almost no warning on 16 March. The borders to neighbouring countries were all closed and only those with residence in Germany were allowed through. After entering the country almost everybody was subject to 14 days self-isolation, although commercial goods traffic was allowed to continue unhindered.
As Germany is a federation, the individual states introduced slightly differing measures but essentially the message was the same: all schools, restaurants, bars and shops closed (except food and chemists/drugstores) and a strict limit on groups of people meeting was imposed. Foreign travel was severely limited and everybody was instructed to “keep their distance”. Working from home was encouraged and testing for the virus stepped up dramatically.
The vast majority respected the restrictions and life was certainly different but actually quite pleasant. The car stayed in the garage, food shopping was reduced to once per week, air quality improved and there were less people on the streets. Spending dropped and bicycle usage boomed!
The measures paid off: Germany has one of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the world (deaths from the virus only about one-fifth of the UK!). The shops, bars and restaurants were allowed to re-open gradually from mid-May, as were some schools. People are also returning to their places of work.
The border restrictions have now been partially lifted with the intention to return to free movement by 15 June.
The situation is rapidly approaching one of normality, although the obligation to wear masks in certain public areas is still in place, as is the limit on larger meetings and the “keep your distance” policy.
Despite the loosening of restrictions, infection and mortality rates have remained low in comparison and are monitored constantly. Testing for the Covid-19 virus remains a priority. Overall things have gone well and individuals have not really suffered from the restrictions. Life just became a “new normal” with not too many disadvantages.