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EXPLAINED: The Covid measures across German states

The German government has relaxed Covid protection laws, but several states have extended them. We break down what it all means.

Passers-by walk through Kaufingerstraße in Munich's city centre.
Passers-by walk through Kaufingerstraße in Munich's city centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

What applies from March 20th?

On Sunday, most of Germany’s Covid protection measures fell away, signalling the country’s own ‘freedom day’.

But states, who have been grumbling about the plan to relax Covid restrictions, have postponed the lifting of measures as part of a transitional phase in view of rising Covid infections. 

On Monday Germany reached a record high 7-day incidence of 1,714.1 Covid infections per 100,000 people.

What applies in your German state now?

Originally, all far-reaching Covid-19 measures were to be dropped from March 20th onwards. But states can still extend the extensive measures that apply under the old Infection Protection Act until April 2nd – and most have. 

Here’s a look at state plans for relaxing Covid measures:

Baden-Württemberg: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd. No relaxations of rules are planned until then.

Bavaria: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd. Fairs and public festivals will be permitted from March 20th. Capacity and person caps as well as the special rules for religious services will be dropped. From March 21st, the mask requirement at primary and special schools will no longer apply. As of March 28th, the mask requirement for 5th and 6th grades will also be dropped.

Berlin: Transitional phase applies until March 31st.

Brandenburg: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd.

Bremen: Protective measures continue to apply until April 2nd.

Hamburg: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd. 

Hesse: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd. 

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd.

North Rhine-Westphalia: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd.

Lower Saxony: Contact restrictions in the private sphere end from March 20th. Transitional phase applies until April 2nd.

Rhineland-Palatinate: Transitional phase applies until April 2nd.

Saarland: Transitional phase applies until March 31st. 

Saxony: Contact restrictions will be abolished as of March 20th. There are to be no limits on capacity for events. Further openings possible from April 2nd.

Saxony-Anhalt: Transitional phase to possibly apply until April 2nd.

Schleswig-Holstein: A transitional phase is to apply until April 2nd.

Thuringia: Transitional phase to apply until April 2nd.

What about riding public transport?

On local public transport you will still generally need to wear a mask and have proof of vaccination, testing or recovery until the transition period ends in the state in question. After April 2nd, masks will likely remain on local transport but not the 3G rule. 

On long distance transport you don’t need stick to the 3G rule anymore, unless you are in the catering carriage where rules are stricter until April 2nd. However, you will need to continue to wear an FFP2 mask for the time being.

What about workplace rules?

Technically, from March 20th the so-called ‘home office obligation’ fell away, as well as the need for employees to provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test to go into their workplace. However, regions may be able to extend some of these rules in the transition phase. Check with your employer and local government to be sure.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Germany’s new Covid workplace rules

What happens in April?

After April 2nd (or earlier in some cases), the transition period ends. From this date there is no legal basis for far-reaching Covid-19 measures. 

The new version of the Infection Protection Act will come into force, which will see most Covid restrictions dropped. 

That includes the ‘G-rule’ entry systems for public spaces (i.e. ‘2G’ and ‘3G’) that require people to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a test before entering a venue. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED – The streamlined Covid measures coming in force in Germany

It will also include things like maximum capacities and hygiene concepts for sports, leisure and cultural venues. 

Instead, only “basic protection” will remain in place, which means masks and testing regulations will apply only for particularly vulnerable groups and in facilities such as old people’s homes and hospitals. 

So we won’t see tough Covid measures again?

Not necessarily. There is a clause in the law that says an area classed as a Covid “hotspot” can get tougher measures, like 3G or 2G rules. 

However, state leaders say there are high hurdles for doing this, and believe it will be difficult to bring in more restrictions. 

The new Infection Protection Act is set to expire on September 23rd. The Federal Ministry of Health sees the possibility of adopting a new regulation after the parliamentary summer recess, if necessary.

What happens with free Covid tests?

Free tests are expected to remain in place until at least April 2nd in Germany. 

But it’s likely they will be lifted soon – although nothing concrete has been set out yet. 

Member comments

  1. So we basically have this simulated freedom within reach, in the form of a transition phase until April when we go back into a quasi, semi, unvaccinated lockdown again?

    Can we just call this what it is? Buying time to get to the vaccine mandate vote.

    If there’s no restrictions on the population the vote fails. But, keeps these restrictions and a mandate vote will free us from this.

    Long live lockdowns.

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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?