German lockdown measures ‘extended until April 18th’

Germany will extend its nationwide lockdown measures until April 18th after an agreement was reached at a meeting between the federal government and Germany's state leaders, according to German media.

German lockdown measures 'extended until April 18th'
The Chancellery. credit: dpa | Michael Kappeler

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states have confirmed that the lockdown measures will be extended for a further four weeks, according to new agency DPA and news site Spiegel Online. 

The strategy meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states was originally scheduled to discuss a further relaxation, but a third wave of the virus driven by new variants changed the agenda dramatically.

Lifting restrictions on dining, cultural and leisure facilities will now have to be delayed and instead, worst-hit areas may from Monday have to reimpose measures and order shops and some schools to close again, according to a draft proposal which was still being discussed on Monday evening.

At the last crunch lockdown talks on March 3rd, Merkel and the state leader agreed on a step-by-step lifting of restrictions. But built into this process was a so-called Notbremse – an emergency brake which local and regional governments could pull if the 7-day incidence per 100,000 residents were to rise above 100.

“We are deciding today that we will keep what we decided last time,” Merkel said, according to participants, referring to the emergency brake. 

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute reported the so-called 7-day incidence at 107.3 on Monday morning. This is the highest level since January 26th, and up from 68 two weeks ago.

The draft proposal calls for these brakes to be brought in wherever they are necessary, and to be applied consistently across the country.

It lays the groundwork for the closure of some schools that have only just reopened, and urges people to avoid travelling over Easter.

“Given the current infection dynamics accelerated by the Covid-19 variants, forceful action is still required,” the text reads.

As the shutdown drags on, shop owners were watching developments nervously, with the German retailers’ association warning that 120,000 shops could go bust if the shutdown persists.

No relaxations over Easter

The federal and state governments also decided against relaxing visitation rules at Easter weekend, which begins on Friday April 2nd, according to DPA.

Before the consultations, Germany discussed relaxing contact rules over Easter and allowing visits of relatives. Specifically, there was a proposal to allow meetings with four people beyond one’s own household, plus children up to the age of 14 from the immediate family circle.

At the beginning of March, the federal and state governments decided that meetings between a private household and another household is possible, but limited to a maximum of five people.

Children up to 14 years of age are not counted and couples are considered as one household.

It was also still unclear in the evening what would become of Easter vacations, both at home and out of the country. “The federal and state governments continue to urge all citizens to refrain from nonessential travel domestically and also abroad,” the draft resolution said.

“The emergence of various Covid-19 variants and their global spread have shown that cross-border travel must continue to be limited to the absolute minimum necessary.”

Nevertheless, the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate advocated allowing “low-contact vacations” – that is, vacations in vacation homes or houses, apartments or mobile homes, provided they have their own sanitary facilities and holidaymakers can also get and prepare their own food there.

Further talks on the remaining details of the agreements were ongoing as of 11 pm on Monday evening.

READ ALSO: These are the travel plans that could make it into Germany’s new lockdown pact

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.