Germany eyes limits on NYE parties to combat Omicron

Germany plans to limit private New Year's Eve parties to 10 people, a draft document showed Monday, as it tightens Covid restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of Omicron.

Broadcaster's ZDF's New Year show at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on January 1st 2021.
Broadcaster's ZDF's New Year show at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on January 1st 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The proposed new rules will target the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike, though the government has ruled out a strict lockdown ahead of Christmas.

A government proposal shows that from December 28th, Berlin wants to close nightclubs and further reduce the number of people allowed at large events.

The text also proposes caps on private gatherings, with those who are vaccinated or recovered from Covid to be allowed to host just 10 people, a measure specifically aimed at New Year’s Eve revellers.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED – German leaders consider new restrictions to fight Omicron wave

Guests themselves must also have immunisation to the virus, the text says.

“New Year’s Eve celebrations with a large number of people are unjustifiable in the current situation,” reads the draft document.

Those who are unvaccinated can only mingle with a maximum of two other people.

Children under 14 would be excluded from the new rules.

The proposals will be discussed with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states on Tuesday.

Germany has so far managed to slow a fierce fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the Delta variant, in part by ramping up booster vaccinations.

The country reported some 16,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Robert Koch Institute, down from a peak of more than 75,000 in late November.

Fears are growing about a surge in cases fuelled by Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa and has quickly spurred new waves of infections
around the world.

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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.”