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COVID-19 RULES

Germany’s expert council signals support for relaxing Covid rules

The German government's Covid advisory council has signalled support for measures to be eased when the Omicron wave breaks.

A sign showing the 2G-plus rules in a restaurant in Düsseldorf.
A sign showing the 2G-plus rules in a restaurant in Düsseldorf. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

The council said Germany was in a “new phase of the pandemic” but warned warned of “uncertainties due to a still far too large immunity gap in the population” in its latest recommendations released on Sunday. 

However, experts said that steps to reopen public life should be expected.

“The number of SARS-CoV-2 infections has steadily increased so far, but a plateauing and subsequent decline for the Omicron (BA.1) wave is to be expected in the coming weeks,” the council said.

“A rollback of government infection control measures appears sensible once a stable decline in hospitalisation and intensive care admissions and occupancy is seen.”

Germany’s government and state leaders are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss the Covid situation – and a plan for easing measures is expected. 

READ ALSO: Germany to ease Covid restrictions after Omicron wave peaks 

What else does the Council of Experts say?

The council, which was set up to help guide German leaders on the Covid strategy, urged for a cautious approach to relaxing restrictions, particularly because of concerns over the sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2.

They said reopening public life too quickly could result in a “renewed increase in the burden of disease”. 

Germany has several tough measures in place aimed at slowing the spread of Covid, including barring unvaccinated people from most parts of public life (the 2G rule), and requiring vaccinated and recovered people to show proof of a negative test or a booster shot to access many places (2G-plus). There are also some closures in place, such as for clubs. 

Experts said removing Covid restrictions in Germany would mean more unvaccinated and older people, would be at risk of picking up an infection. 

The council said “these groups carry the highest risk for a severe course of the disease and must be protected”.

They said that people in Germany should continue to act cautiously and responsibly “with regard to infection protection”.

Experts urged for mandatory face masks in some public places to continue, but added: “If the number of infections is low enough, it (mask measure) can be temporarily lifted, but this should be accompanied by a clear communication on the time limit”.

The council also urged the government to take into account the different dynamics depending on the season. In autumn and winter, experts say wearing masks and regular testing for vulnerable groups will be needed. 

In their recommendation, the experts said that the testing strategy should be adapted in the coming months due to the “high economic and ecological burden”.

“In particular, it should be examined whether testing should be limited to symptomatic cases,” the council advised. “Early detection of significant changes in infection dynamics, e.g. via random surveillance, is elementary, especially in view of the coming autumn/winter.”

READ ALSO: German hospitals ‘won’t get overwhelmed in Omicron wave’

Vocabulary

Relaxations – (die) Lockerungen

Council of Experts/expert board – (der) Expertenrat

To recommend (something) – (etwas) empfehlen

Subsequent – nachfolgend

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Experts said removing Covid restrictions in Germany would mean more unvaccinated and older people, would be at risk of picking up an infection.

    The council said “these groups carry the highest risk for a severe course of the disease and must be protected”.

    They chose not to be protected. It’s their problem. Stop making a handful of people’s poor choices EVERYONE’s problem. Stop CHILD ABUSE! Let the kids take off their masks in school. They are tested 2 and 3 times a week for crying out loud.

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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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