German states impose Covid curfews amid soaring cases

As Germany struggles to get a grip of the Covid fourth wave, a number of states have introduced curfews for the unvaccinated, while Saxony has ordered the closure of bars and leisure facilities.

Empty streets in Stollberg, Saxony
Streets stand empty in the town of Stollberg in Saxony. The eastern state has ordered the closure of nightlife and leisure facilities from Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/ErzgebirgsNews/dpa-Zentralbild | Andre März

The partial lockdown in Saxony comes as the state’s weekly incidence of Covid infections rises to almost 1,000 per 100,000 people.

On Monday morning, the 7-day incidence stood at 960 per 100,000 people, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)

Ministers in the state have responded by ordering sweeping closures of cultural and leisure facilities, libraries, bars, clubs and discos from Monday. All large public events will be cancelled – including Christmas markets. 

Meanwhile, restaurants, shops and other non-essential services will have their opening hours restricted to between 6am and 8pm, and will only be allowed to permit entry to people who are vaccinated (geimpft) or recovered (genesen) – a system known as ‘2G’. 

Supermarkets and pharmacies will be exempted from the rules. 

In Saxon municipalities where the incidence exceeds 1,000 per 100,000 people, an immediate curfew for unvaccinated people will come into force. 

This will prevent unvaccinated people from leaving their homes without a good reason between the hours of 10pm and 6am. As of Sunday, this included the municipalities of Meißen, Bautzen, Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge, Nordsachsen and the Erzgebirgskreis.

The news comes just days after Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder announced a range of tough new measures to combat the southern state’s spiralling infection rates.

On Friday, Söder revealed sweeping plans to cancel all of Bavaria’s Christmas markets and close bars, clubs, pubs and brothels for at least three weeks. 

Restaurants will stay open but will have to close by 10pm each night, while universities, adult education centres and services like hairdressers that require close bodily contact will use a ‘2G’ entry policy. 

In additional, large events will introduce a 25 percent capacity limit and will operate under a ‘2G-plus’ system, meaning only people who are vaccinated or recovered from Covid and have a negative Covid test can enter. 

The 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people currently stands at 640 per 100,000 people in Bavaria.   


Curbs on the unvaccinated 

In other German states, regional governments are placing new restrictions on the unvaccinated in order to stem the spread of Covid. 

From Monday, the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein will introduce a ‘2G’ system for indoor public spaces, meaning the unvaccinated won’t be allowed entry to places like bars, restaurants and gyms.

In the workplace, unvaccinated people will be asked to present a negative antigen test each day, or a PCR test taken no more than 48 hours ago – a system known as ‘3G’.

Meanwhile, in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, three municipalities will introduce a nighttime curfew on the unvaccinated. Under the new rules, people who’ve opted not to get their Covid jabs will be told to stay in their homes between the hours of 9pm and 5am. 

On Thursday, the federal and state governments met to thrash out uniform thresholds for implementing new Covid restrictions.

If hospitalisations exceed a threshold of three per 100,000 people per week, states will introduce ‘2G’ rules – excluding unvaccinated people from public spaces.

If there are more than six Covid hospitalisations per 100,000 people, 2G-plus rules will apply to large events and venues such as clubs and discos, meaning even vaccinated and recovered people must carry a negative Covid test with them to gain entry.

On a national level, 3G rules are set to come in both on public transport and in the workplace from Wednesday, November 24th.


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Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

With the EU changing its Covid recommendations for flights, there is some confusion around whether people boarding a plane in Germany will still need to wear a mask. Here's what we know so far.

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

As of Monday, the aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC no longer recommend mandatory Covid masks in airports and on planes.

However, if masks are compulsory at the point of departure or destination, this should continue to apply in aircraft as well, they say.

So, what does this mean for passengers boarding flights in Germany? At the moment, not very much at all. 

In Germany, the Infection Protection Act still stipulates that masks have to be worn on long-distance trains and planes. Masks are also compulsory on local public transport.

The previous weeks have seen Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) come out in favour of scrapping compulsory masks – especially on flights.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done to change the Infection Protection Act, which is due to expire on September 23rd. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

What are the current rules on flights? 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, masks are compulsory on all flights taking off or landing in Germany.

FFP2 or medical masks must be worn when boarding and disembarking and throughout the flight, though they can be removed when eating and drinking.

Children under the age of six are exempt from the mask-wearing requirement. 

The ministry has argued that the obligation to wear masks also complies with the new EU recommendations. 

What are the rules acros the EU? 

In general, the relaxed EU recommendation does not mean that masks are no longer compulsory on all flights. However, many countries have kept this measure in place as a simple way to reduce infection. 

Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, published a list of 14 EU countries in which national laws continue to require the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid.

Besides Germany, popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France are included on the list. 

In other EU countries, the airline said it would be dropping mandatory masks on flights, adding that it “welcomed” the relaxed recommendations from the EU health authorities.  

READ ALSO: Will Germany soon get rid of mandatory face masks on public transport?