The German government on March 3 surprised museums with the news that most will be allowed to open Monday, March 8, The Art Newspaper reports, putting them ahead of restaurants, theaters, and sports facilities, which are to remain shuttered until March 22. The institutions, which have been closed for four months owing to the continuing Covid-19 crisis, may open if their area has averaged fewer than a hundred cases per hundred thousand residents in the past seven days. Of those, museums in areas where the infection rate is between fifty and one hundred per hundred thousand must require visitors to book time slots and to provide contact information.Fifteen of the country’s sixteen states are eligible for the timed reopenings; only Thuringia, in central Germany, does not meet the requirements. Two states—Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate—boast infection rates below fifty per one hundred thousand and may reopen without restrictions.The news was greeted warmly by the German Museums Association, which urged states to “open discussions with museums as quickly as possible in order to exploit the chances offered by this staggered plan as fully as possible.”Museums were among the first organizations to close amid the most recent coronavirus wave; the new reopening plan puts them among the first, with zoos and nonessential shops. However, Chancellor Angela Merkel has raised concerns that variants could contribute to a spike in infections; a slight rise in positive test rates over the past few days may prove her worries to be founded. An “emergency brake” appended to the plan is meant to address that: If a region’s infection rate surges above one hundred per one hundred thousand citizens for three days running, that region must reenter lockdown and thus force museum closings again.