Merkel proposes plan to ease lockdown measures in three stages

Chancellor Angela Merkel is to put together a proposal to come out of shutdown in three stages.

Merkel proposes plan to ease lockdown measures in three stages
Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Germany is looking ahead to relaxing Covid-19 measures and coming out of the shutdown which has been in place since November.

On Monday Merkel reportedly told her Christian Democrat (CDU) party members that the lockdown measures could be eased in several stages, combined with increased coronavirus testing.

Here are the three areas which will be focused on:

  • personal contacts (this refers to how many people you can meet)
  • schools and vocational schools
  • sports, restaurants/cafes and culture

The aim is to put together packages from these areas to make reopening possible.

Merkel has previously said once a package of measures is relaxed, the country will wait two weeks to see how the infection situation develops before another step is taken.

The Chancellor urged for a cautious reopening, coupled with more testing.

Yet she acknowledged that the public was eager to know Germany's roadmap back to some kind of normality.

A working group with Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun and heads of the state chancelleries are to put together a plan on how to reopen public life.

They aim to present the plan at the next talks between Merkel and the state leaders on March 3rd.

What's the infection situation in Germany?

The curve of new infections has shown an upward trend in recent days – despite the tighter lockdown measures in force since mid-December.

On Monday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 4,369 new infections within a day, compared to 4,426 a week ago.

The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (7-day incidence) continued to rise to 61.0 nationwide. The previous day, it was 60.2.

There are major concerns of Covid-19 variants pushing up numbers.

“The mutation is unfortunately destroying our good development right now,” Helge Braun reportedly said during the Monday meeting.

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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?