Bavaria cuts Covid quarantine time to five days

The state government in Bavaria has relaxed its quarantine rules for both those who have a Covid infection and their contacts. Here’s what you need to know.

Bavaria cuts Covid quarantine time to five days
A woman looks out of the window of her apartment. Photo: dpa | Fabian Sommer

Bavaria has become the first state in Germany to cut down mandatory quarantine to just five days. State Health Minister Klaus Holetschek claimed that the move was made to bring Bavaria into line with the length of quarantine in other countries.

Who does it affect?

As of midnight on Tuesday, residents of Bavaria who have tested positive for an infection with Covid now only need to quarantine for five days as long as they have not displayed acute symptoms within the last 48 hours of this time period.

Once the five-day period is up and they are showing no symptoms, they don’t need to wait for a negative test to leave quarantine. 

If someone still has ‘acute’ symptoms then they need to stay at home until they have gone away for at least 48 hours, or for a maximum of ten days.

Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek stressed that people should take precautions once their period of quarantine ends.

“We appeal to people to behave responsibly,” he said. “We recommend wearing a mask for a while after the end of isolation and keeping contacts to a minimum.”

Previously, the quarantine rules stipulated that convalescents had to stay at home for a period of ten days, which could be shortened to seven days on the basis of a negative test.

The move has been backed up by the Bavarian Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL). Its boss, Christian Weidner, said that “if acute symptoms such as fever or a cough are still present after five days, it can be assumed that the person is still contagious. If the symptoms subside, it is advisable from a scientific point of view to wait another 48 hours until the quarantine can finally be terminated.”

What about close contacts?

Under the new rules close contacts are no longer required to quarantine at all. 

Up until now, contact people had to go directly into a ten-day quarantine. This did not apply to people who had had a third dose of the Covid vaccine, or to people who had recently recovered from an infection.

“We continue to ask those who have been infected to inform their close contacts,” Holetschek said. “To the close contacts, we also recommend reducing contacts and working in home office if possible, and voluntarily self-testing for five days.”

Staff in health and care sectors

At the same time, people employed in sectors where they care for people vulnerable to the virus still face stricter rules.

Once their period of quarantine is over, they’re only allowed to return to work once they have tested negative with either an antigen test or a PCR test.

Voluntary quarantine on the way?

Holetschek also made clear that a further relaxation of the rules could be on the way.

“If the rate of infection keeps dropping then a voluntary quarantine could follow,” he said.

State health ministers are to meet on April 25th to discuss next steps and Holetschek suggested that he would push for “developing a timeline to move forward on when isolation will no longer be mandatory.”

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach originally planned to make quarantine voluntary starting in May. But after facing sustained criticism in the German press he announced a U-turn on an evening chat show.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister makes U-turn on voluntary Covid isolation

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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?