Mask mandates in German schools ‘to end in April’

German states agreed on Friday to bring normality back to the country’s schools by ending both mask wearing and mass testing.

Mask mandates in German schools 'to end in April'
A young child in school in Baden-Württemberg, Photo: dpa | Uwe Anspach

The decision to end mask wearing in April and stop mass testing the following month was made at a meeting of state education ministers in Lübeck on Friday.

According to Bild Zeitung, the requirement for children to wear masks in classrooms will be lifted on April 2nd.

Regular testing of children, regardless of whether they have Covid symptoms, has also been part of school life for much of the past two years. That will be phased out in May though, according to the agreement.

Alexander Lorz (CDU), education minister in Hesse, said that it was time that children were given a normal teaching environment once again.  

But he warned that “none of us can say what will happen in the autumn”.

The state of Lower Saxony has already pushed ahead with plans to relax mask wearing rules at schools announced in February.

The announcement of abolishing restrictions in schools comes on the same day that federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned that Germany remained in a “critical” situation.

Lauterbach said that the pandemic would not be over in the summer time due to the number of Germans who still have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Some three quarters of the population have received two vaccine doses against the disease, while 57 percent have received three doses.

SEE ALSO: Germany in ‘critical’ Covid situation, warns Health Minister

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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?