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COVID-19 RULES

Germany plans to end most Covid restrictions in March

Germany will end most government restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic in March, according to a draft official plan, as new infections rates ease.

People walk past a Covid testing station sign in Braunschweig.
People walk past a Covid testing station sign in Braunschweig. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Moritz Frankenberg

Two years after the start of the outbreak in Germany, curbs to prevent contagion will begin falling away.

As a first step, contact restrictions will ease allowing more to meet privately, while access to shops will be open to all without checks on whether the individuals are vaccinated or tested.

From March 4th access to restaurants will be open to unvaccinated people too if they show a negative test.

In a final step, “broad restrictions of social, cultural and economic life should be gradually lifted by the start of spring on March 20th, 2022,” said the draft document to be approved by federal and state leaders on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Germany’s expert council signals support for relaxing Covid rules

 After that date, Europe’s top economy would rely on “basic protection measures” including “in particular the wearing of medical masks” in public.

Rules requiring employers to allow staff to work from home if possible would also be lifted at that time.

For several weeks, Germany has restricted access to bars and restaurants to people who have received a booster jab of the coronavirus vaccine or who are tested on top of being fully vaccinated or recovered.

Contact restrictions are also in place keeping private gatherings to 10 people, or two households if an unvaccinated person is present.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is due to meet with leaders of Germany’s 16 states on Wednesday to agree the next steps on dealing with the pandemic.

On Monday, Germany reported 76,465 new Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours and 42 deaths in the second week in a row to show falling rates.

Germany’s states, which have significant autonomy in implementing restrictions from mask-wearing in public transport to home-schooling, have already begun to gradually ease curbs.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence falls for second day in a row

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TRAVEL NEWS

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?

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