To some, this might sound like a Fool’s Day prank, but it is serious: The city state of Berlin is dropping almost all Corona rules in spite of the extremely high infection numbers. ‘Basic protection’ is the term the federal government is using for the new approach the states have to follow.
Berlin, March 30th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Berliners will still need to wear masks in public transport. And they will have to do so at doctor’s offices, hospitals and care facilities. Corona tests be required for those who enter clinics, similar establishments, refugee hostels, jails and juvenile shelters. At nursing homes, both residents and employees need to be tested for Corona on a regular basis. The quarantine rules remain in place too. They apply to infected persons and unvaccinated contact persons.
Other than that, life will feel very different starting on Fool’s Day. From Friday, April 1st, 2022, masks will not be required anymore at restaurants, cafés, pubs, shops, including supermarkets, malls, marts or department stores, unless their owners put in place compulsory mask rules themselves. For the first time since mid-2020, unmasked consumers will be walking through the aisles at ‘Aldi’, ‘Lidl’, ‘Netto’, ‘Edeka’ and ‘Kaufland’. They might feel naked without their masks.
Of course, nobody can be kept from wearing masks in shops, in public or anywhere. Experts and politicians have even suggested people should continue to put on masks whenever they are in crowds. They did so because the risk of infection with Corona is the highest it has ever been since the virus hit Germany. At the same time, that of severe progressions of COVID-19 is the lowest it has been, at least for vaccinated individuals. The Omicron variant of Corona spreads rapidly, but hits people less hard than all of its predecessors. Unvaccinated persons are in danger though.
Even at Berlin’s 827 schools, the mandatory mask rule will be dumped the day after tomorrow. But Corona tests will still be required for pupils, teachers and all employees three times per week. From April 1st, this will apply to vaccinated persons too, and to those who recovered from COVID-19. Berlin’s Education Senator Astrid-Sabine Busse suggested masks should be worn voluntarily.
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Earlier this week, several of Germany’s federal states had tried to have the old Corona rules prolonged. They failed to reach their goal, but do have the option to declare cities, counties or their entire areas Corona hotspots. In this case, they can put in place mask rules and restrict access to certain places. As long as they are not hotspots, all states will have to follow an approach the federal government calls ‘basic protection’. It was put in place on March 20th, but the states had the option to keep the old rules during an interim period until April 2nd.
On Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute reported 268,477 new Coronavirus infections. Last Wednesday, there had been some 15,000 more new cases. Germany’s Seven Day Incidence just decreased to 1,663.0 from 1,703.3 on Tuesday. The number of Corona-related deaths is still very high. Since yesterday, 348 COVID-19 patients died.
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