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.
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.
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.