Calls grow for Germany to ease Covid measures

Germany is seeing a spike in Covid infections due to the Omicron wave. But several high profile figures are calling for a plan for easing the strict rules.

A restaurant with the 2G-plus rule sign in Potsdam.
A restaurant with the 2G-plus rule sign in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Germany has a range of measures in place that aim to slow the spread of Covid-19, including banning the unvaccinated from most parts of public life, and testing for people who haven’t received their booster vaccination. 

But there are growing calls for the government and states to look towards easing the rules. 

Andreas Gassen, head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), urged politicians to come up with a concrete plan.

“Regardless of the fact that at the moment there are still very high infection figures, it is necessary to show citizens perspectives on how we can get out of the phase of permanent state of emergency after the Omicron wave,” Gassen told RND.

Gassen said: “People must be able to rely on these perspectives. It should not be the case that – as has happened several times in the recent past – either no strategy is available or openings are reversed after a few weeks.”

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Are Germany’s Covid rule changes backed up by science?

He also said there should be a uniform approach from the states when easing measures. 

“Furthermore, a federal patchwork should be avoided – as far as the infectious process allows,” Gassen said.

Some states – including Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria – have already started to relax Covid measures.

Bremen’s mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) also said proposals to relax restrictions should be put forward “especially if the situation in the intensive care units remains stable”.

Meanwhile, Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder (CSU) also called for planning “for the time after the Omicron wave”. 

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) agreed that a debate on easing measures should be on the cards, but argued that Omicron still posed a challenge.

READ ALSO: ‘Hard to keep up’: Your verdict on Germany’s ever-changing Covid rules

Germany extended a range of measures, including the 2G-plus rules (meaning vaccinated and recovered people need to show proof of a booster shot or a negative test to get into many public places) in January. The next round of Covid talks is scheduled for February 16th.

On Tuesday Germany reported 162,613 Covid infections and 188 deaths in the latest 24 hour period. The 7-day incidence stood at 1,206.2 infections per 100,000 people.

It comes as some other countries have been lifting measures. 

Denmark on Tuesday became the first EU country to lift all of its Covid restrictions despite record numbers of Covid cases. 

READ ALSO: How worried should we be about Germany’s rocketing Covid rates?

‘Gradual opening steps’

Health policy spokesman Tino Sorge (CDU) agreed that the German government needed to look ahead to the period after the Omicron peak, expected in mid-February.

He suggested “gradual opening steps” depending on the situation in hospitals as well as other factors. 

Sorge also said communication needed to be improved.

“Restaurant owners, event organisers, associations and many other players want to prepare for the spring,” said Sorge.

He called on the government’s Council of Experts to put together step-by-step guidelines for the reopening of public life. 

However, the German government insists it has things under control. 

“The moment we feel we can relax responsibly, this federal government, all state governments will take exactly that step,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said on Monday.

READ ALSO: Germany ‘undermining confidence’ in pandemic with bad communication skills

Member comments

  1. It will be an awkward conversation with politicians trying to explain, why the country to our north is living a normal life, while we keep hiding under our mattresses because apparently this virus knows where the border is and stops there…

    1. It will also be difficult to explain how forced vaccination is necessary in Germany and Austria and nowhere else and how that is ‘supported by the science ‘ – science which begins and ends at the Austro/German border apparently. We’ve been there before.

  2. End all restrictions. Its worked in other countries. We have enough evidence that restrictions are actually detrimental. Get back to normal.
    Not a new normal. Or any other way to describe it. But the old normal.

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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?