German leaders thrash out plan to phase out Covid rules

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and state leaders were due to meet Wednesday to discuss the next steps in Germany's reopening plan.

A shop in Frankfurt with a sign saying people must wear FFP2 masks.
A shop in Frankfurt with a sign saying people must wear FFP2 masks. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

A new draft proposal emerged on Tuesday evening ahead of Wednesday’s Covid summit with Scholz and the 16 state premiers.

The updated proposal details extensive relaxations for private meetings, and a new testing strategy.

As The Local has been reporting, the federal and state governments plan to debate the phasing out of almost all Covid restrictions in Germany. 

A draft released on Monday outlined that contact restrictions will be eased for vaccinated and recovered people, while access to shops will be open to everyone without checks on whether customers are vaccinated or tested.

In a second step from March 4th, access to restaurants, bars and cafes will be open to unvaccinated people too if they show a negative test (the 3G rule). Currently, they are only open to people who are vaccinated/recovered with a booster shot or a negative Covid test (the 2G-plus rule). 

Meanwhile, also from March 4th, clubs and discos will be allowed to open with the 2G-plus rule in place under the plans, which means vaccinated and recovered people would have to show proof of a booster or negative Covid test.

READ MORE: What we know so far about Germany’s ‘freedom day’ plans

Contact restrictions dropped for vaccinated/recovered

According to the latest draft, the federal and state governments want to get rid of all limits on the number of vaccinated/recovered people who can meet in private. Currently the maximum number of people who can meet is 10.

However, For the unvaccinated, the current rules would continue to apply. Unvaccinated people can meet with their own household and two people from another household.

Major events

Also in the new proposed resolution is a plan to allow a 75 percent occupancy rate for large outdoor events (maximum 25,000 spectators). Indoors, a 60 percent occupancy rate could be allowed (maximum of 6,000 spectators). These regulations could also come into force from March 4th.

All other more far-reaching protective measures are to be dropped from March 20th, under the proposals.

However, the “obligation to wear masks in the enclosed spaces of public facilities and on buses and trains” will be kept in place, under the plans.

Testing to continue

In the new draft there is also a request that the federal government develop a testing strategy beyond March 31st 2022, and extend the testing regulation. However, there are no further details at this stage.

Compulsory vaccination

According to the proposed resolution, a vaccine mandate in the health sector will happen.

However, the new paper now lacks a reference to the current deadline of March 15th 2022 for the implementation of mandatory vaccination for health and care workers.

“The health authorities have discretion in implementing the measures,” says the paper.

This appears to give some German states some flexibility on how they implement the mandate, which they have been calling for. 

READ ALSO: Bavaria to postpone vaccine mandate for health and care workers

Covid recovery status under the spotlight

As well as the proposed resolution, there’s a second version with separate demands from states led by the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the CSU. 

In this version, the Union states say they want to see the status of when someone is considered vaccinated or recovered be determined directly by the government – and no longer by the Paul Ehrlich Institute and Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

The recovery status of people who’ve had Covid in Germany was recently changed from six months to three months. But it has resulted in a backlash, and massive confusion. 

The conservative states said they want to see the ‘recovered status’ be extended again to six months. In the case of a double-vaccinated person, the status should last nine months, they propose. 

According to the draft proposals, plans to remove the authority over vaccination and recovery status from the RKI are already underway. German daily Welt also reported on Wednesday that the decision to shorten recovery status could potentially be reversed. 

READ ALSO: How German pharmacies are extending the ‘recovery’ status of vaccinated people

What happens now?

Chancellor Scholz and state leaders will discuss all the proposals on Wednesday and final decisions will be announced after that. Keep an eye on The Local’s homepage for the latest updates. 

Member comments

  1. Exactly. I just want fresh air, unfogged glasses, and not have to pull out “my papers” and passports to do practically anything. It’s just criminal what these “leaders” are doing to millions to protect a handful that refuse to be vaccinated. COVID kills like the flu now. We don’t shut down for the flu. Ridiculous.

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


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?