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HEALTH

Germany extends coronavirus distance rules to June 29th

Germany has extended social distancing rules aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic to June 29th, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government said on Tuesday.

Germany extends coronavirus distance rules to June 29th
A sign at a beach in Niendorf, Schleswig-Holstein reading "Please keep a distance."

Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in public places but Germans should be in contact with as few people as possible, according to the rules agreed between the federal government and 16 states.

The date was pushed forward slightly from the government's original draft plan, which stated that the social distancing rules – currently in place until June 5th – would be extended until July 5th.

Merkel's government had been embroiled in disagreements with the least-affected states, some – such as Saxony and Thuringia – of which wanted to ditch the measures and open up entirely.

READ ALSO: First German state set to end coronavirus restrictions in early June

Germany's virus caseload now tops 181,000 with just over 8,300 deaths — much lower than European counterparts such as Britain, France, Spain and Italy. Of those, over 161,000 people have reported themselves to have recovered. 

“This success is mainly based on the fact that the rules on distance and hygiene have been implemented and respected,” the government and the regions said.

However, officials warned that further restrictions could be imposed if local outbreaks made them necessary.

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

With the EU changing its Covid recommendations for flights, there is some confusion around whether people boarding a plane in Germany will still need to wear a mask. Here's what we know so far.

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

As of Monday, the aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC no longer recommend mandatory Covid masks in airports and on planes.

However, if masks are compulsory at the point of departure or destination, this should continue to apply in aircraft as well, they say.

So, what does this mean for passengers boarding flights in Germany? At the moment, not very much at all. 

In Germany, the Infection Protection Act still stipulates that masks have to be worn on long-distance trains and planes. Masks are also compulsory on local public transport.

The previous weeks have seen Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) come out in favour of scrapping compulsory masks – especially on flights.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done to change the Infection Protection Act, which is due to expire on September 23rd. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

What are the current rules on flights? 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, masks are compulsory on all flights taking off or landing in Germany.

FFP2 or medical masks must be worn when boarding and disembarking and throughout the flight, though they can be removed when eating and drinking.

Children under the age of six are exempt from the mask-wearing requirement. 

The ministry has argued that the obligation to wear masks also complies with the new EU recommendations. 

What are the rules acros the EU? 

In general, the relaxed EU recommendation does not mean that masks are no longer compulsory on all flights. However, many countries have kept this measure in place as a simple way to reduce infection. 

Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, published a list of 14 EU countries in which national laws continue to require the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid.

Besides Germany, popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France are included on the list. 

In other EU countries, the airline said it would be dropping mandatory masks on flights, adding that it “welcomed” the relaxed recommendations from the EU health authorities.  

READ ALSO: Will Germany soon get rid of mandatory face masks on public transport?

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