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Germany proposes new rule to allow families to meet over Easter

A plan written up by Chancellor Merkel’s office ahead of Monday afternoon’s lockdown summit lays out a special exemption to contact rules over Easter.

Germany proposes new rule to allow families to meet over Easter
Families at Easter in Munich. Credit: dpa | Andreas Gebert

Echoing the relaxation of pandemic restrictions over Christmas, the German government is planning to allow families to meet up over April’s religious holiday.

The proposal states that “calm behaviour of Germans during the Christmas period was impressive proof” that family visits can happen safely.

For five days over Christmas, contact rules were relaxed to allow people to meet their immediate family to celebrate the religious holiday.

“Therefore, the German states will make an exception to contact rules between the dates of April 2nd and April 5th, allowing for meetings with up to four people from outside one’s own household as well as children under the age of 14,” the proposal states.

While Robert Koch Institute (RKI) boss Lothar Wieler appealed to the public to not visit family at Christmas due to fears “the infection dynamic will become even worse”, concerns that the festive period could turn into a superspreader event failed to materialize.

EXPLAINED: These are Germany’s planned new lockdown measures

The high point of the second wave of infections was reached shortly before Christmas, with cases falling off during the Christmas break and in the first two months of the new year.

According to Spiegel, epidemiologists are again warning that family visits at Easter could lead to an acceleration of the third wave.

Lockdowns instead of Lockerungen

Overall, though, the meeting is likely to end in a return to restrictions as a third wave of infections builds in momentum.

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

At the beginning of March, Germany began loosening lockdown rules, allowing hair and beauty salons to reopen, as well as home appliance and garden shops. Retailers were also allowed to open on an appointment-basis in many states.

READ ALSO: This is Germany’s five-step plan to head out of shutdown

Lifting further restrictions on dining, cultural and leisure facilities will likely 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.

“Without significant restrictions, the number of new infections will increase to the point that the health system risks being overwhelmed by April,” the draft reads.

Requirements that employees work from home whenever possible will be extended to April 18th, according to the document, instead of ending on March 28th.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new working from home rules

To prevent any contagion at the workplace, companies will be required to provide at least two rapid tests a week to employees who are unable to work from home, it said.

With an eye on upcoming Easter school holidays, those who go abroad would be required to be tested and go into quarantine when they return to Germany.

And, most controversially, overnight curfews could be imposed for the first time across the country in regions where the seven-day incidence rate surpasses 100 per 100,000 people.

READ ALSO: Tickets sell out in three minutes as Berlin Philharmonic reopens to public

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TRAVEL NEWS

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.

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