Curfews, testing for all air travel: the key changes in Germany's new Covid rules
At the lockdown summit on Monday several tougher new restrictions were agreed upon as German leaders try to break the third wave of the pandemic.
The take away news from the lockdown summit, which continued well into Tuesday morning, was a tough lockdown through the entire Easter break.
Billed as Germany's strictest lockdown yet, it will entail the closure of all shops including supermarkets (except on Saturday April 3rd.) Furthermore, the people of Germany are being asked to stay at home and a 'gathering ban' will apply for public spaces.
For full details of the Easter shutdown, read our article HERE.
Here are the other key points.
The lockdown rules agreed upon on March 3rd will be extended until April 18th. The next meeting between the Chancellor and federal leaders will happen on April 12th.
Emergency brake tightened
Since March 3rd districts should have been applying an "emergency brake" - a return to the February lockdown rules - when cases rise above a 7-day incidence of 100. Due to the fact that several districts ignored this rule, the new agreements emphasizes that this clause needs to be enforced "consequently."
Districts have been given new weapons to try and bring outbreaks under control, should cases rise above a 7-day incidence of 100.
Most prominently, they can now impose night time curfews. The start and end times for curfews are to be set individually by each state.
They can also order people to wear medical masks when seated in a car with someone from another household. The text also states that "greater testing should be made necessary in places where it is hard to socially distance or wear masks." What exactly this measures means is not clear. The text of the agreement does not go into further detail. But it is now up to the state governments to flesh out these rules for their states.
General contact rules
There has been no change made to contact rules for districts with 7-day incidence below 100. This means that up to five adults from two households are still allowed to meet.
Above an incidence of 100, the contact rules from January and February apply again. That means that a household can only meet one further person from outside the household, including children. These rules apply both indoors and outside.
Generally, the text appeals to Germans to “reduce all contacts to the bare minimum and avoid meeting people inside in particular.”
At the same time, in districts with an incidence below 35, three households of up to ten people are allowed to meet. Plus children are allowed to come along.
The text states that after Easter, comprehensive testing will play "and even greater role" and asserts that supply chains for antigen tests for the months of March and April have now been secured for all federal states. This should ensure that "all citizens" receive enough tests.
The agreement promises "blanket testing" in all schools and nurseries so that teachers and pupils can be given two tests a week "as quickly as possible."
The purpose of the testing at schools is both to help keep education facilities open and to break chains of infection in the general public, the agreement states.
Freedom for the vaccinated
The Robert Koch Institute is to present a report to the government before the next meeting (April 12th) in which it assesses whether people who've been vaccinated still need to be tested before entering businesses, museums etc.
Travel - tests for all air travellers
The biggest news on travel: the government wants a change to the infection protection law to ensure that everyone who flies to Germany has to present a negative test result upon arrival, regardless of where they are flying from.
As has been the case in previous agreements, the March 22nd text makes an "urgent appeal" to people not to travel unless absolutely necessary, both at home and abroad.
New is that clause that the government "expects" that airlines will test every passenger and all crew on return from holiday destinations due to likelihood that variants are spreading there. This clause was written in due to the fact that budget airlines have started offering holidays on Mallorca in recent days.
The text states that airlines "should not increase their flight offerings during the Easter holidays."