Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Hengeler Mueller are set to reopen offices in Germany as of next week, as the government begins to relax lockdown restrictions.
German heavyweight Hengeler Mueller has started to reopen its Frankfurt office, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The firm is allowing its employees some flexibility in returning to work, the person said.
In the initial phase, some partners have already been allowed to enter the office, the person added, saying that partners enjoy a “structural advantage” as they have their own offices.
Meanwhile, Magic Circle firm Freshfields is reopening all German offices from next week, according to three people at the firm.
One partner at the firm’s Hamburg office told Law.com International that the firm had been split into two groups that alternate their time in the office, with teams going in since last month.
Germany, with one of the lowest number of deaths due to the coronavirus, has slowly started reopening schools and businesses, and has allowed two households to meet up with each other. Large gatherings are still off-limits, however.
While offices will reopen, the partner said it is still up to staff whether they want to return.
A Freshfields spokesperson said: “In light of the improvements of the overall COVID-19 situation and the relaxation of measures by the Federal Government and the German Länder we have decided that our people may return to work in the German offices on a voluntary basis starting 8 June 2020.
“Hygiene rules and other protective measures put in place earlier this year continue to apply.”
Firms around Europe have been eyeing office returns as lockdown measures ease. Earlier this week, Linklaters established a working group tasked with assessing how to enact a return to its London office.