Bavaria’s state premier wants to limit contacts for unvaccinated

With Covid-19 infection rates rising dramatically in Germany, Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder believes it has become necessary to restrict contacts for unvaccinated people to avoid losing control of the situation completely.

Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder wearing a face mask.
Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder wants Covid-19 rules to be tightened across Germany. Christof STACHE / AFP

“We need to be able to limit contacts for unvaccinated people,” he told a cabinet budget meeting in Munich on Sunday, German media reported.

He said this should be an additional tool to implement if the country wants to avoid being overwhelmed by the virus.

But it shouldn’t be a lockdown for the unvaccinated like in Austria, but 2G – i.e. proof of Covid-19 vaccination or recovery “with the same results”.

READ ALSO: Austria confirms lockdown for the unvaccinated to begin on Monday

He said the situation was at risk of “slipping out of our grasp” across the whole country with the danger of hospitals collapsing and healthcare professionals having to decide which patients to care for.

This chart from Our World in Data shows the rising case-rate trend across Germany and most countries covered by The Local.

There are currently 3,000 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care, still a way off the peak of 5,762 seen at the start of January. 

“Shirking the situation doesn’t help,” the CSU minister said, calling for the federal and state governments to act together in solidarity.

He also called on the future coalition negotiating partners (SPD, Greens and FDP) to take doctors’ concerns seriously and significantly toughen up the draft infection protection law, which he said was “insufficient in every respect”.

“With the laws that are currently planned, Germany is in no way winter-proof. We are stumbling into an ice-cold winter with shorts and summer tyres, so to speak. It will not work,” he warned.

The Bavarian state government want 2G or even 2G+ (vaccination, recovery or negative rapid test) rules to apply across the whole country uniformly.

They also want to see FFP2 masks being made compulsory on trains Germany-wide as well as a cap on numbers at events, echoing statements made by German Green party head Robert Habeck and SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach.

In Bavaria itself, restrictions are set to tighten from Tuesday, with the introduction of 2G rules for guests in restaurants, hotels and at events, while masks would still have to be worn, too.

His statements came as Germany’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported a record seven-day incidence rate for the seventh consecutive time.

On Sunday, the value stood at 289 per 100,000 people, the highest level seen during the pandemic so far.

READ ALSO: Could Germany really see a lockdown this winter?
READ ALSO: Why Germany’s Covid booster jab campaign has failed to take off
READ ALSO: Skip big parties, urges German health agency amid Covid surge

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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.