Is this Germany’s step-by-step plan to come out of shutdown?

Berlin has put together a reopening strategy that could become a template to end the nationwide shutdown. Here's a look at the plan.

Is this Germany's step-by-step plan to come out of shutdown?
People enjoying the sun in Berlin's Mauerpark on Monday. Photo: DPA

The Berlin Senate, with help from other Social Democrat (SPD)-led states, has developed a step-by-step plan for relaxing the current lockdown measures.

The draft plan provides for four “clusters”, i.e. four levels, which are linked to 7-day incidence numbers (the number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in seven days).

At the same time, however, “dynamic factors” such as the reproduction number (R-value), the utilisation of intensive care beds with coronavirus patients and, in the future, the vaccination rate also play a role.

If the incidence values remain below 35 for 14 days in a row, further opening steps will take effect, according to the plan.

The proposal will be discussed by other states on Tuesday, and then put forward for discussion at next week's crunch talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders.

Final decisions are expected then on how Germany will come out of shutdown – however spreading Covid-19 variants are causing some concern.

READ ALSO: Germany is entering Covid-19 third wave, warns health expert

Here's a look at the plan:

7-day incidence over 100: In principle, the lockdown applies as we have known it since mid-December when a state has more than 100 Covid cases per 100,000 people in seven days.

In Kitas there is emergency care and distance learning applies at school (except for final-year classes). A household is allowed to meet with no more than one other person from outside the household. Non-essential shops and other services are closed.

7-day incidence over 50: In schools, there is alternating teaching, with face-to-face classes only in primary schools and for final-year classes. Other school types and grades can gradually return to regular classes.

Daycare centres gradually return to regular operation. Children up to the age of 12 can participate in sport in groups of up to 10 with as much distance as possible.

7-day incidence below 50 (7 days in a row taking into account the dynamic factors): Sport with distance may be practised in groups of up to 10. If the R number rises above 0.9, this is prohibited again, however.

Sport without distance may again be practised in pairs, but not above an R-value of 0.9.

Tourism allowed to reopen from Cluster 2

Cluster 1: 7-day incidence below 35 (7 days in a row, R-value below 0.8): Music schools and art schools are allowed to reopen gradually. Libraries may resume lending operations and may open for students' assignments and theses.

Museums and memorials can reopen with access restrictions. Non-essential shops can reopen with restrictions.

The hospitality sector can open gradually – for a maximum of four people from two households and a curfew on closing applies. As soon as the R number rises above 0.8, they will have to close again. Canteens can open with a hygiene concept.

Outdoor events and outdoor recreational activities are generally possible again. Contact restrictions are relaxed. Five people from two households are allowed to meet.

Cluster 2: Incidence below 35 stable or falling for 14 days, R-value stable below 0.8: Libraries can reopen to all with hygiene concept. Theatres, opera houses and cinemas can open with access restrictions and hygiene plan. Cultural events are possible outdoors with up to 250 people, indoors with up to 150 people.

Pubs can reopen, but initially only a maximum of four people from two households are allowed to go. Closing hours and fixed seating arrangements apply.

Tourist overnight stays are possible again. Flea markets can reopen. Other personal services, such as tattoo shops, can be opened again with mask rules. Contact restrictions are relaxed to six people from three households.

Cluster 3: incidence below 35 stable or falling for an additional 14 days: in theatres, opera houses and cinemas, people must be one metre apart from each other, and seating arrangements in place. Cultural events outdoors are allowed for up to 500 people, indoors for up to 250 people.

Clubs are allowed to open with a hygiene plan and upper limit of people. In hospitality up to six people from any number of households are allowed to meet, there is no longer a curfew.

Fitness and wellness facilities, such as gyms, are allowed to open.

Cluster 4: Incidence below 35 stable or decreasing for 14 days: Cultural facilities are allowed to reopen their eating areas. If venues have ventilation systems, masks do not have to be worn in the theatre, opera house and cinema.

Outdoors, there are no longer any restrictions regarding the upper limit of people at cultural events. In enclosed spaces, a maximum of 500 people may be seated in the audience. For clubs, the upper limit of persons does not apply.

Member comments

  1. There’s a lot missing here. Like, fully reopening under any circumstances isn’t mentioned. Also, any explanation of why we need to close certain things with an R number of 0.8 or 0.9, when that means by definition that cases will continue to drop anyway.

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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?