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This is how the major German states are implementing the new lockdown rules

Angela Merkel and the state leaders agreed to a seven-page document on lockdown rules on Monday that will keep the country under tight restrictions until mid-April. But the wordings often leaves it to the states to flesh out the exact rules on their home turf. Some of the major states announced their plans on Tuesday.

This is how the major German states are implementing the new lockdown rules
Hamburg harbour. credit: dpa | Georg Wendt

North Rhine-Westphalia

Armin Laschet, the state leader in Germany’s most populous state, said on Tuesday morning that his state would implement the “emergency brake” from the new coronavirus rules “one-to-one.”

The emergency brake clause stipulates that a state or region should return to the tough lockdown rules of February should it record a 7-day incidence above 100 on three consecutive days.

Due to the fact that NRW has a 7-day incidence above 100, the new CDU chairman said that the ’emergency brake’ would be activated in the state of 18 million inhabitants starting on Monday March 29th.

Saying that he understood people’s disappointment, Laschet stated that “there is no other way to slow down the virus’ spread at this time.”

SEE ALSO: Three-quarters of Germans think new CDU leader Laschet ‘not suitable choice for Chancellor’

But just how strictly NRW is going to enforce the emergency brake seems unclear.

Laschet said on Tuesday that two households of up to five people would be allowed to meet over Easter. In fact, the emergency brake is supposed to reactivate the February lockdown rules which limited contacts to one person outside one’s own household, which is what Hamburg has done (see below).

Laschet also ruled out night-time curfews, saying these were “no solution.”

Berlin

Berlin plans to go above and beyond the timeline set out on Monday. Mayor Michael Müller intends to extend the capital’s lockdown until April 24th, almost a week longer than the extension agreed by the federal and state governments.

Müller said though that the city could implement new rules after the next lockdown summit on April 12th. “So this does not mean that the lockdown has to be in place in this form until the end of April.”

Berlin currently has a 7-day incidence of 94 and is thus still under the barrier of 100 at which the emergency brake would have to be pulled.

Tagesspiegel is reporting that he Senate has no plans to ‘pull the brake’ as long as the 7-day incidence is below 100, and also that Berlin will not impose night-time curfews.

Bavaria

Germany’s economic powerhouse has said that it will start opening back up aspects of public life immediately after Easter in three or four test regions. State leader Markus Söder did not say on Tuesday which regions these would be.

The pilot projects are to take place based on a comprehensive testing regime.

Söder also confirmed that schools will stay open in regions with a 7-day incidence below 100.

SEE ALSO: Curfews, testing for all air travel: the key changes in Germany’s new Covid rules

Even in regions with a higher incidence, final year classes as well as the fourth year of primary school and the 11th grade at grammar schools, technical colleges and vocational colleges, will go back into the classroom based on a shift system.

Hamburg

The Hanseatic city has gone further than the rules set out in Monday’s Covid summit.

After the city “pulled the emergency brake” on Saturday based on a 7-day incidence that’s been hovering above 100 for a several days, contacts have been stripped back to just one person from outside the immediate household.

This contact restriction will also apply over Easter. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted.

Mayor Peter Tschentscher said that his sate was being “a bit stricter” than the rest of the country but said this was necessary due to the infection scenario.

The mayor appealed to the people of Hamburg to refrain from going on holiday, taking day trips or visiting relatives.

Tschentscher also said that medical masks would now be compulsory in vehicles “if people from different households are sitting together.”

Hesse

In the central German state, where gyms have been open again for much of March, the state government is also set to enact the “emergency brake.”

Hesse has had a 7-day incidence over 100 for six days in a row, and the state government said on Tuesday that “no further easing of restrictions will take place before Easter.”

Gyms will likely have to close again and children’s sport will be put on pause.

State leader leader Volker Bouffier will give further details later on Tuesday.

Baden-Württemberg

The southwestern state wants to ensure that nobody works on Thursday April 1st, allowing for people to stay at home for five days straight. But state leader Wilfried Kretschmann said that there were still “legal issues to sort out” on this point.

Kretschmann said he was in favour of night-time curfews, a tactic he has used previously. He also hinted on Tuesday that he might take the power to decide on whether to pull the emergency brake away from local governments – and take control himself.

The town of Tübingen has embarked on a pilot project which has attracted considerable attention. It has been given permission to keep shops, cafes and cinemas open based on an intensive testing regime.

Residents of the town can enter various businesses as long as the show a negative test that has been conducted in the past 24 hours.

READ MORE: Why one German town is lifting its lockdown despite third coronavirus wave

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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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