COVID-19 Update: What do contractors need to know?

Berlin - COVID-19 update contractors

29th May 2020

As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, many contracting hotspots are finally lifting lockdown restrictions in order to kick-start their economies – much to the delight of expats who are looking to get back to business as normal where they can. However, what movements remain restricted varies across the globe and having the most up to date information in these countries is crucial for international contractors looking to take up their next assignment.

In order to help keep you informed, we have provided an update for contractors – collated from updates from GPA and various news sources – for some of the most popular hotspots. (Please note, this information is correct as of May 22nd, 2020)

COVID-19 update for contractors:


Germany, which has been praised worldwide for its coronavirus response, has taken significant steps towards ending its lockdown, with restaurants, pubs and hotels opening on May 11th. The Bundesliga football league resumed on May 16th, and open-air sport is once more permitted for the general public. Citizens are also now allowed to entertain family and friends from up to two households.

Classes are gradually resuming, with those facing exams given priority to return. Museums and zoos have already reopened, many with inventive new layouts to keep visitors apart.  As a case in point, at the Brandenburg State Museum for Modern Art in Cottbus, southeast of Berlin, visitors in pairs can each take one end of a pole or ribbons exactly 1.5m long to keep their distance.


After enduring a strict COVID-19 lockdown, Spain has entered the first of a three-phase exit plan. While this is obviously subject to change depending on infection rates, but currently the plan is as follows:

  • During the first phase, small shops will be able to open and outdoor terrace bars can put out half the usual number of tables, though Madrid is offering to allow them to occupy more space where possible.
  • Subway trains and buses in Spanish cities, including Madrid, have marked alternate seats as out of bounds to prevent people making contact with the person next to them, while standing room is limited to two people per square metre.
  • In phase two, indoor bars and restaurants will open with strict limitations on numbers, as well as shopping centres, museums, cinemas and theatres, that will be allowed to resume activity at one-third capacity.
  • Hunting and fishing can also resume in phase two, but bullfights are off limits until phase three – expected sometime in June – though promoters say it will not be worthwhile since each spectator must sit alone in a space of nine square metres. Beaches are also set to reopen in the third phase of the lockdown exit plan.


Portugal – which has had vastly lower infection and death rates than its neighbours after being quick to impose lockdown measures – is now progressing through its three-phase exit strategy, with small businesses having opened for customers already, along with libraries, public offices and parks. Face masks are obligatory in covered public spaces, with gloves also encouraged.

Phase two, stated on May 18th and saw restaurants and cafés open at half capacity, as well as large stores, museums, galleries and monuments. Schools also begun reopening for pupils who have exams, with masks to be worn at all times. Crèches will also open for parents who need to use them. On June 1st, all leisure options will be allowed to open, including gyms, hotels, malls, bars and nightclubs.

A “good practices” guide for beachgoers is planned. Some will remain sealed off and out of bounds, while in other places people are being allowed to swim as an “individual sport”. The likes of fishing and golf are also now permitted sports for the general public.


Dutch primary schools and childcare providers have reopened as of May 11th, with children allowed to play sports together as long as they remain 1.5 metres apart. Adults will also be allowed to take part in sports as long as the game is outside and social distancing can be respected. But competitive matches are not allowed and neither is the use of shared changing rooms.

Secondary schools will reopen from June 1st and vocational training schools will reopen for exams and practical training from June 15th.  People in contact-based professions, such as driving instructors, alternative medicine practitioners and hairdressers can return to work but must have required protection measures in place.

People on public transport are advised to use a face mask, which will become obligatory from June 1st.  Cafes and restaurants can reopen their outdoor seating provided the terrace is big enough to keep customers 1.5 metres apart and some establishments are trialling glass booths to keep diners safe.

United States

In America, decisions about reopening are being taken by governors in each of the 50 states, creating a patchwork of differing rules across the country. Around half of the states are now partially reopening, mainly in the centre and south of the country. States on the West coast, such as California and Washington which were hit early by the coronavirus, and in the North East like New York and New Jersey still have lockdowns or restrictions in place.

Many other states in the US are watching Georgia, which has forged ahead in its progress. It has already reopened gyms, bowling alleys, cinemas, nail salons and massage therapists. Restaurants can open as long as there are only 10 diners per 500 square feet of floor space, and disposable menus are used. Shopping malls have reopened in some states including Georgia, Florida and Texas. They are limited to 25 per cent capacity and have seen few customers.

Stay informed

While this update for contractors reflects the current situation regarding COVID-19 in these nations, things are changing every day. As authorities across the globe begin reviewing the potential to reduce lockdown restrictions, staying ahead of the latest developments is crucial for contractors operating across the globe, so we encourage all contingent workers and recruiters to pay attention to information from the relevant authorities before making any decisions.

At 6CATS, we will continue to update workers and firms should any new information arise, and there are plenty of COVID-19 related resources on our website. If there should be any interruption to your assignment or working life – we’re here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.


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