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COVID-19 RULES

Germany to enforce new Covid-19 rules from October 1st

A new set of coronavirus rules - to be implemented by Germany's parliament on Thursday - is to come into force between October 1st and April 7th, 2023. Here's what we know so far.

Face mask on ground
A face mask lies on the street in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

In the spring, the rules in Germany’s nationwide Infection Protection Act were significantly scaled back, mainly at the insistence of the business-friendly Free Liberals (FDP) who were worried about their economic consequences. 

Yet in light of an expected rise in cases in the autumn and winter, Germany’s parliament is expected to tighten its rules both at the national level – and leave Germany’s 16 states to their own authority to decide further measures.

The new package of rules was slated to be decided on Thursday afternoon. Currently, Germany has a seven-day incidence of 217.2 cases per 100,000 people – a significant dip from a month ago when figures stood at 389.3 a month ago.

Rules to apply nationwide

Throughout Germany FFP2 mask requirements are to be enforced in hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices. They will also be put into place in long-distance trains for everyone 14 and older.

For children between 6 and 13, a surgical mask will also be allowed. In airplanes, the mask requirement is set to be scraped all together.

READ ALSO: Will Germany ditch mandatory masks on planes?

Furthermore, a negative test will need to be presented before accessing nursing homes and hospitals.

Care homes will also be required to appoint special representatives to administer vaccines, hygiene and therapies for patients, for example with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid.

States to determine own rules

Starting from October 1st, each of Germany’s 16 states will also be able to impose their own rules, including the requirement to don a face mask on local bus and train services. 

They will also decide whether masks are to be made compulsory again public indoor areas such as stores and restaurants, with an exception to be made for those who present a negative Covid-19 test.

States could also decide if tests would be mandatory in schools and Kitas (daycare centers).

Primary and secondary schools could furthermore introduce masks again – but only from the fifth grade onwards and only to the extent that this is “necessary to maintain a regular classroom presence,” according to the draft legislation from Germany’s grand coalition.

READ ALSO: German doctors slam plans for Covid masks in schools

Should Covid-19 figures rise to a more critical level, states will be able to impose the obligation to wear masks at outdoor events, if distances of 1.5 meters are not possible. They can also set upper visitor limits for indoor events.

The new rules were met with mixed options. Bavaria’s prime minister Markus Söder spoke out in favor of abolishing the mandatory mask requirement for long-distance travel. 

The CSU leader said he finds it absurd that Germans do not have to wear a mask in the airplane any longer, but for the long-distance traffic the mask obligation still applies, he said on the ARD broadcast Maischberger on Wednesday. 

The bus operators’ association BDO called for for mandatory masks to also be scraped in long-distance buses.

She also justified this in light of the current economic crisis in the industry and ever-increasing energy prices.

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COVID-19 RULES

German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Health ministers in Germany's 16 states say that the requirement to wear face masks on local public transport should remain in place throughout autumn and winter.

German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

As part of Germany’s planned Covid regulations from October onwards, people will have to wear FFP2 masks on long-distance transport, such as trains.

However, states are able to decide themselves on any mask requirements for local buses, trains, and trams. 

On Monday, state health ministers agreed that they were in favour of keeping the mask mandate on public transport across Germany.

According to the health ministry in Saxony-Anhalt, which currently holds the presidency of the Conference of Health Ministers, the aim is to have uniform rules in all states when it comes to masks on transit. 

It comes after some people raised concerns that Germany would see a patchwork of different rules across the states.

As The Local has been reporting, the Bundestag last week passed a set of Covid regulations that will be in place from October 1st until April 7th 2023.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

The plan includes some measures that will apply nationwide, while the states can decide on regional requirements depending on the pandemic situation.

Across Germany, FFP2 masks will be mandatory on long-distance trains and buses as well as in health and care settings, such as GP offices. There will no longer be a requirement to wear masks on planes in Germany.

Approval of the legal framework is still needed from the Bundesrat, which represents the states. That is expected to take place on Friday. 

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