SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

German parliament ‘granted exemption’ to keep six months Covid recovery status

For people in Germany, Covid 'recovery' status has been restricted to infections that occurred in the past three months - but according to media reports, a different rule applies to parliamentarians while in the debate chamber of the Bundestag.

Martin Sichert (AfD) speaks in a debate on Covid rules
Martin Sichert (AfD) speaks from the visitors' gallery in a debate on Covid regulations in January. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

According to reports in Zeit, and other German media, MPs working in the German Bundestag can use their Covid ‘recovered’ status for up to six months in the debating chamber of the Bundestag.

A parliamentary spokesperson told the news site that the law that dictated the Covid rules in the federal parliament referred to the Covid-19 Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance.

“At the time the general order was issued, it provided for the period of 28 days to six months after infection, which continues to apply,” they confirmed. 

Since January 15th, the period of time in which somebody counts as ‘recovered’ from Covid has been halved from six months to three for the general public.

The rule change has meant that many unvaccinated people have suddenly found themselves relying on negative tests in order to access ‘3G’ venues, in which proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test must be presented, or 2G venues, which are restricted to people who are vaccinated and recovered. 

READ ALSO: Covid ‘recovered’ status only valid for three months, says German Health Ministry

Had the same rule applied to the Bundestag, the change in the recovered status would have had a particular impact on MPs in the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, many of whom are either unvaccinated or prefer not to discuss their vaccination status in public. 

In the plenary hall, where debates and votes take place, the 2G-plus rule applies, meaning MPs who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered have to sit in the visitors’ gallery.

Recently, more than 20 AfD MPs moved to this part of the Bundestag, which has been nicknamed the “epidemic gallery” due to the fact that a number of anti-vaccination politicians currently sit there. 

In October, AfD parliamentary group leader Tino Chrupalla was infected with Covid, swiftly followed by co-faction leader Alice Weidel in November. 

Under the current Bundestag rules, both still qualify as ‘recovered’, though Chrupulla would be excluded from the category in most other workplaces and public spaces in Germany due to the fact that his positive PCR test was taken more than 90 days ago. 

Member comments

  1. Maybe one Friday night there should be an accidental fire there, so we can hurry things along and Sholz can make himself Führer.

    Could this not be seen as a way to segregate people that have different views. I bet he can’t wait to just, disappeared the dissenters.

  2. Do I have this right? They are having a debate on a vital topic, one that will effect personal freedom, one in which 60% of Germans say the country is dividing, and the MPs on the other side of the debate are not permitted to speak? Seriously, do I have this right?

    1. They are not permitted in the chamber.
      From the photo. It looks like they have a mic up there. But how they would be able to vote is unclear.

      The Bundestag also not giving documents over to the AfD for debate on the vaccine mandates.

      1. I’m struggling to understand how this is even remotely constitutional. Clearly, people voted for the people who are not allowed in the main chamber and those people should be represented (whether I or anyone agrees with their politics is not the issue). This does not feel democratic to me in the least… and actually not too smart on the part of the majority. Long Term, I mean. Won’t a vote on anything from now on somehow be or at the least feel delegitimised?

        1. I can’t say how or if they can vote as I do not know.

          Its on par with everything this administration has done thus far.
          Yes. It appears to me that Sholz wants to lead as one of his predecessor did.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

The EU recently recommended that masks no longer be mandatory in air travel - but Germany is not changing those rules, at least for now. Here's what you should know about mask rules in Germany.

EXPLAINED: Germany's current Covid mask rules

People in Germany have been wearing face coverings in lots of public places for around two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But in April, the mask rules were significantly relaxed.

It means that in Germany you currently don’t have to wear a mask (but can on a voluntary basis) in these places:

  • shops and supermarkets
  • restaurants, cafes and bars 
  • cultural buildings including museums and galleries
  • leisure venues, including gyms and cinemas
  • hairdressers and other body-related services

However, businesses can ask customers or visitors to wear a mask so you may find signs on the door of some venues or facilities. 

Some businesses will have a sign with the word Freiwillig (voluntary) and the mask symbol at their entrance, which means customers are encouraged to wear a mask but are not legally obligated to.

That’s the case at the Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt’s city centre as shown in this photo. 

A mask sign in Frankfurt.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

In Germany you still have to wear a mask in these places:

  • on public transport (all buses, trains and trams) and in stations
  • on flights to and from Germany
  • in hospitals and medical practices including doctors’ surgeries 
  • in care facilities, such as care homes for the elderly or other places where there are vulnerable people

What type of mask is required?

FFP2 masks have become standard in Germany, but it depends on the state or business rules. In some areas, medical masks are sufficient. 

But hasn’t the EU relaxed mask rules for flights?

Yes. However, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) move to end mandatory masks on flights earlier this month is only a guideline – and the ultimate decision lies with the country. 

A German Health Ministry spokesman told The Local: “The decision on mandatory masks is made by national authorities. The mandatory mask requirement in aircraft therefore continues to apply on all domestic German routes as well as on flights that take off or land in Germany.

“An FFP2 or medical mask must therefore be worn when boarding and disembarking as well as during the entire flight. This may only be removed when eating and drinking. Exceptions to the mask requirement exist for children under six years of age and, for example, for people who are not allowed to wear a mask for medical reasons.”

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear masks on planes?

Has there been any confusion on this?

Apparently so. There have been reports of some airlines not pointing out the rules for mask wearing in Germany. 

On at least two of Swiss Airline’s flights from Hamburg and Berlin to Zurich recently, Swiss cabin staff did not let passengers know about the mask requirement, reported German news site Spiegel. That is despite the rule that all travellers have to wear a medical face mask on all flights to and from Germany.

On the flight from Hamburg to Zurich, an estimated 40 percent of the approximately 200 passengers were travelling without face coverings, Spiegel said. When asked about this, the news site reported that a flight attendant said: “We don’t have a mask requirement at Swiss anymore.”

The Swiss airline, which belongs to the Lufthansa Group, lifted the requirement for masks on board at the beginning of April. However, it has to comply with the Covid regulations of the countries it flies to.

A sign telling people to wear a mask at Hamburg airport in February.

A sign telling people to wear a mask at Hamburg airport in February. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

One of the problems with the latest round of rules is that the legal situation in Europe varies – while countries such as France, Poland and Switzerland have abolished the obligation to wear masks in the cabin, it remains in force in Germany, and some other places including Spain.

Italy also requires FFP2 masks to be worn until June 15th at the earliest. In total, 14 EU countries still require people on flights to wear masks. 

A spokesperson for Swiss Airlines told Spiegel: “The obligation to wear a mask applies on flights to destinations where it is mandatory. Thus, for example, our guests have to wear the mask on flights to Germany, but not on flights to Switzerland. Our aircrafts are registered in Switzerland, so Swiss legislation also applies on board.”

READ ALSO: Do flights to and from Switzerland require face masks?

So will masks remain mandatory on flights – and on other transport in Germany?

Politicians have been speaking out recently about the possibility of lifting the mandatory mask rule in Germany. 

Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing, for instance, said that he supported getting rid of the mandatory requirement to wear a face mask on public transport in Germany, as well on planes.

But the Health Ministry told The Local that the mask wearing obligation will remain in place as part of the Infection Protection Act until at least September 23rd 2022 – unless the rules are “adapted to the situation”. 

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

SHOW COMMENTS