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COVID-19

Germany to ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve

Germany will once again ban the sale of fireworks on New Year's Eve due to the Covid pandemic.

Fireworks being set off in Berlin at New Year 2019.
Fireworks being set off in Berlin at New Year 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

The move was revealed as part of sweeping new Covid restrictions to help contain the fourth wave. 

Due to rocketing Covid infections and struggling hospitals, the federal government and states announced on Thursday that people wouldn’t be able to buy fireworks or firecrackers in Germany in order to protect emergency services. 

According to the agreement by the government and states, a ban on large gatherings will also be in place on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, however the details on this aspect are unclear.

As well as the ban on the sale of fireworks, authorities say that the “setting off of New Year’s Eve fireworks is generally strongly discouraged, against the background of the high risk of injury and the already enormous burden on the health system”.

Buying and setting off fireworks during the days on and around Silvester (December 31st) is a popular German tradition – but it can often result in many places turning into what can appear like small war zones.

READ ALSO: Why many German cities become a fireworks hell on New Year’s Eve

It can see people get severe injuries, and paramedics and police being called out frequently.

In 2020 Germany also banned the sale of fireworks to ease the burden on hospital and care staff. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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