At the beginning of the pandemic, Germany was among the European countries most affected by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide. The first confirmed coronavirus case in Germany was recorded in the southern state of Bavaria on January 28, 2020. Case numbers began to rise rapidly on a daily basis at the beginning of March 2020 and continued to grow nationwide, as more members of the population get tested for the virus, many after returning from winter vacations in other severely affected European countries such as Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Each of the 16 German Federal States now has confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg being the most affected. Based on recent figures, as far as cities and districts in the country are concerned, the three most populous German cities have been hit the hardest with the disease: Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. Currently, more women than men have been infected with the coronavirus.
As of March 23, 2020, the German government imposed a so-called contact ban among the population in an effort to slow down the spread of the disease. While research on how exactly the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads is ongoing, it has been established that the infection can transfer from person to person. According to the WHO, when one person already infected with the virus coughs or exhales, small droplets are released from their nose and mouth. If someone else is standing close, or touches the surfaces on which these droplets land, the risk of infection immediately rises. Though it was still allowed to go outside in Germany, gatherings in public spaces exceeding two people were at first forbidden by the government, with the exception of more than two members living in the same household or taking public transport. Except for families or non-related members of the population living under the same roof, keeping a physical distance in public is a rule, with local police forces contributing to help uphold the new regulations. This addition to daily life is being referred to as social distancing.
Even before the introduction of the contact ban, Germany, like other European countries, had already made a number of changes to public life in an effort to protect the population from the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Daycare facilities, schools and universities were successively closed around the country, as were gyms, museums, theaters, clubs, bars, restaurants, libraries, cinemas, shops and stores. Establishments belonging to the food and health care sectors remained open and accessible to the population, though with added adjustments due to the contact ban. During April and May 2020, as the German government began easing shutdown measures, decisions were also handed down to individual state governments, with numerous establishments reopening. Social distancing, wearing protective face masks and overseeing the number of people gathering in public spaces such as stores and shops continue to accompany daily life outside of the home.
The aforementioned measures mean that, as a consequence, businesses and industries in all of Germany faced serious financial issues due to the absence of customers and consumers using their services, as well as travel restrictions both on a national and international level. Another worry is reduced performance due to the possibility of more employees being on sick leave. During a recent survey conducted among German companies, it was clear that the travel and hospitality industry in particular were already noticing the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on their business. When surveyed on revenue expectations in the near future, companies varied between making estimates regarding losses and stating that currently it was not possible to make a prediction. German e-commerce is also expecting to be impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, with common concerns including delivery delays or cancellations for restocking goods, as well as a revenue decline.