German states consider scrapping quarantine pay for those without booster shot

In the German states of Lower Saxony and Bavaria, ministers are considering ending quarantine pay for people who haven't yet received their Covid booster jab.

A woman looks out of the window while in quarantine
A woman looks out of the window while in quarantine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

According to reports in the Neue Osnabrück Zeitung (NOZ), Lower Saxony’s Health Minister Daniela Behrens believes employees who face quarantine should lose the right to reimbursed earnings during that time.

If the new rules are brought in, they would come into force in the state on March 1st, she said, and would only apply to people who had had contact with an infected person. 

Under the current quarantine rules, people who had their last dose of vaccine or last Covid infection more than three months ago face quarantine of up to 10 days after having contact with someone with Covid. 

The same applies to people who are completely unvaccinated, but people with a booster jab are exempt. 

Speaking to NOZ, Behrens pointed out that the quarantine could be avoided if people opted to have the recommend third dose of Covid vaccine. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I have to work while in quarantine in Germany?

She said that the new rules would therefore be fairer to vaccinated people and the general public.

“In every village you can get a vaccination appointment relatively quickly,” she explained. “Against this background, I think we can no longer expect the taxpayers, the general public, to shoulder payments for contacts in quarantine, although these could have been avoided with booster vaccination.” 

People who had a proven Covid infection will continue to be reimbursed regardless of their status.

In Bavaria, meanwhile, ministers are believed to be considering similar legislation. 

According to reports in the Passauer Neue Presse, the rules in Bavaria would see quarantine pay scrapped for people who had not taken all the recommended Covid vaccine doses. 

In line with the latest recommendations from the Standing Vaccines Commission (Stiko), this would mean that anyone over 12 without a booster jab would face a loss of earnings while in quarantine.

As The Local has reported, lawyers in the federal parliament recently put together a briefing on ending quarantine pay for certain groups of vaccinated people.

This would include people without booster jabs whose last dose of vaccine was taken more than three months ago. The move would be justified by the fact that quarantine could have been avoided in these cases, the lawyers wrote.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Germany’s new rules and exceptions for Covid quarantine

Last November, the government ended quarantine pay for all unvaccinated people. 

Behrens is now encouraging other state health ministers to join her in discussing a potential sharpening of the rules at the next state health ministers’ conference, according to NOZ. 

As of Friday, 73.8 percent of the German population was fully vaccinated and 52.2 percent had received a booster jab. 

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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?