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We advise you to read this section very carefully. If you commit infringements of these rules and directives, fines of up to 25,000€ and even imprisonment may be enforced!

Decent overviews about the rules in overall Germany that are available in English can be found on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office and of the Commissioner for Integration (the latter website is available in 18 languages. If you know residents in Germany who struggle with both German and English, it would be kind of you to share this information with them). Nevertheless, in the federal system of Germany, different rules can apply within the single states ("Bundesländer"). Hence, in the following, we focus on what is particularly relevant in the region of Göttingen.


--- 10 April 2020 ---

Over the Easter weekend, the restrictions primarily stay the same in Lower Saxony. (Source: Sueddeutsche.de, last checked on 10 Apr 2020)


--- 10 April 2020 ---

Having a BBQ is private is allowed - in public, however, it is not. If you are planning to go hiking in the Harz, make sure not to enter the part that belongs to Saxony-Anhalt because that part is officially locked for entry these days. (Source: Spiegel.de, last checked on 10 Apr 2020)


--- 09 April 2020 ---

Lower Saxony introduced a schedule of penalties. It is valid from today. Among other penalties, they include...

  • 500€ - 1,000€ for the specific person(s)
    • Setting foot in a prohibited establishment after returning from abroad
  • 200€ - 400€ for each person
    • Gatherings of more than two people (exception: people from the same household)
  • 150€ - 400€ for each person
    • Visiting a leisure location or a point of sale which were prohibited
    • Get togethers in prohibited establishments
    • Visiting public events
  • 150€ for each person
    • Not adhering to the minimum distance of 1.5m in public and during sport activities outdoors
    • Visiting a restaurant (exception: off-trade sales)
    • Consuming food or beverages within a radius of 50m

If you want, you can have a look at the full table from the Ministry for Social Affairs of Lower Saxony (last checked on 10 Apr 2020)

--- 05 April 2020 ---

Apparently, the latest directive has meanwhile been adjusted as the spokesperson announced on 4 Apr. (Source: goettinger-tageblatt.de, last checked on 05 Apr 2020)

--- 04 April 2020 ---

According to a spokesperson of Lower Saxony's Ministry for Social Affairs, the latest directive to prohibit visits of the closest family members and friends was not intended to be this strict and is about to be revoked. Until then, infringements against this will not be penalised. However, parties - even within the own flat - remain prohibited. (Source: emstv.de, last checked on 05 Apr 2020)


--- 04 April 2020 ---

Some possibly relevant Q&A from Lower Saxony’s (the federal state of Göttingen) website:

  • You are not allowed to host friends at your place or to meet them at theirs. To quote from the federal state’s website, “In other words: Unfortunately, your flat or house is barred for visitors”. Nevertheless, in the same Q&A it says that visiting your life companion (“Lebenspartner/in”) is still possible.
  • Since today, shopping in DIY market for private use is permitted again.
  • The restriction to only go out with max. one additional person does not apply when you are going together to an appointment for a blood donation as donating blood is currently encouraged even more than usual. Here you can find where and when it is possible to donate blood in Göttingen.


--- 29 March 2020 ---

Since there are differences among the federal states in German, the question comes up: What is permitted where? A journalist created an overview. To make it more understandable, we quickly to make it accessible in English:
(Update 04.04.2020: It seems like this overview is already outdated. So bear in mind that even though there might be a green tick, it may still be forbidden. However, if you see a red cross, you can be pretty sure that it is forbidden these days.)


--- 27 March 2020 ---

Are you affected by the pandemic also financially and struggle to pay your rent? The German government issued a law that is supposed to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. Among other things, your rental contract can’t be terminated because you are in arrears with payments between 1 Apr until 30 Jun 2020. But: You still need to pay your debts until 30 Jun 2022 at the latest! (Quelle: bundesregierung.de, last checked on 28 Mar 2020)


--- 24 March 2020 ---

According to a spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the rule that you may only meet with max. one additional person with who you don’t share a household also applies at your home even though this is not explicitly mentioned in the published guidelines. However, there could be differences in the individual policies from federal states. (Source: Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, last checked on 25 Mar 2020)


--- 23 March 2020 ---

Which additional social distancing rules are applying in Germany since today?

  • Public gatherings of more than two people will be banned. There will be exceptions for families and those living together.
  • General contact with others should be reduced to a minimum.
  • A 1.5-meter (4.9 feet) distance should be kept at all times when in public.
  • Gastronomy businesses must close. Businesses offering food delivery and collection will be allowed to remain open.
  • Service providers such as hair-dressers, cosmetic, massage and tattoo studios where a 2-meter distance between people is not possible must also close. Businesses and centers offering medical treatments may remain open.
  • Police and other law enforcement agencies will enforce any infractions of the new rules — Merkel did not state what the punishment would be for anyone not abiding by the new measures.
  • Hygiene regulations must be implemented for staff in the workplace, or for visitors.
  • Commuting to work, helping others and exercising alone outside will still be permissible, as long as the activities are carried out in abidance with the guidelines.
  • The measures will remain in place, initially for the next two weeks.

(Source: Deutsche Welle, last checked on 23 March 2020)


--- 19 March 2020 ---

Measures which the German authorities are currently taking:

  • Retail: Among others, specialty shops and outlet centers must close. Shops that sell everyday items are explicitly NOT closed. These include grocery stores, weekly markets, pick-up and delivery services, beverage stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, petrol stations, banks, post offices, hairdressers, dry cleaners, laundromats, newspaper stores, construction, horticultural and pet supplies markets and wholesale. For these areas, even the sales bans on Sunday are to be suspended until further notice. But there should come up requirements for hygiene, for controlling access to shops and for avoiding queues.
  • Leisure: Bars, clubs, discos, pubs have to close. Likewise theaters, operas, concert halls and museums. This also applies to fairs, exhibitions, cinemas, leisure and animal parks, arcades, casinos, betting shops and brothels. Playgrounds are also closed.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants should not be allowed to open before 6:00 a.m. and must close at 6:00 p.m. People, restaurants and hotels are supposed to minimize the risk of spreading the corona virus - for example, through distance rules for tables, restrictions on the number of visitors or hygiene measures. Overnight stays in Germany should only be able to be used for "necessary" - explicitly not touristic - purposes.
  • Health care: All health care facilities remain open, taking into account higher hygiene requirements.
  • Sports facilities: Business in all public and private sports facilities, swimming and fun pools, gyms and similar facilities will be discontinued.

(Source: Tagesschau.de, last checked on 19 Mar 2020)


--- 18 March 2020 ---

Certain travelers will be refused to enter the EU. This applies to people who are not EU resp. Schengen-state citizens, long-term residents in the area resp. their immediate family members as well as people who don’t have an “essential” function or a need that requires them to enter the area. For more details, continue to read here or here.


--- 17 March 2020 ---

The city of Göttingen has published an overview of all emergency decrees (last checked on 04 Apr 2020)
(Disclaimer: While that website seems to have been created on 17 Mar, we couldn't find it when we checked the website a few weeks ago. Hence, we have not yet come around to work through all the documents but much of the essentials is already published on our website.)