Several German states plan ‘to extend Covid measures’ until early April

Germany is set to significantly relax Covid-19 measures from March 20th. However, a proposed transitional period means that states will be able to keep restrictions in place after that date.

A sign shows the '3G rule' at a restaurant in Augsburg, Bavaria.
A sign shows the '3G rule' at a restaurant in Augsburg, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

The current Infection Protection Act, which forms the legal basis for Covid measures in Germany expires at the end of March 19th.

The German government and states are this week thrashing out new legislation to allow for almost all restrictions to be lifted from March 20th – bar some basic measures – and a clause for ‘hotspots’. 

However, it is emerging that several federal states plan to keep the current restrictions in place as part of a transitional phase. 

This two-week grace period is in the federal government’s draft amendment to the new Infection Protection Act, reported broadcaster Tagesschau on Wednesday.

It comes as Covid-19 infections reach record highs in Germany. 

READ ALSO: How worried should we about Germany’s rising Covid infections?

In Bavaria, the cabinet said that existing 2G or 3G access rules (Germany’s version of the Covid-19 health pass for entry into restaurants and bars) and a mask requirement, including in schools and shops, will remain in place until April 2nd.

Baden-Württemberg also wants to make use of the transitional period, deputy head of government Thomas Strobl (CDU) said.

Meanwhile, Berlin announced that it will maintain the current Covid-19 measures until April 1st. 

In Lower Saxony, the state government plans to present a transitional regulation this week – and this will apply until April 2nd.

North Rhine-Westphalia also plans to use the transitional regulation up to the same date, reported DPA.

However, a final decision by the CDU/FDP state government is not expected until after the Bundestag has voted on the future Infection Protection Act. This is set to happen on Friday. 

Other states that say they want to extend restrictions as part of the transitional phase are Thuringia, Saarland, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Will Germany lift its Covid restrictions amid rising infections?

We should have more information on the plans among German states in the coming days. 

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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?