Last night, the interim period for federal states that wanted to keep the old Corona rules ended. They now have two options: Get rid of most Corona rules or declare yourselves Corona hotspots.
Burgas, Bulgaria, April 3rd, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — This is the last day. Whether they want to or not, Germany’s federal states need to take the new Corona approach. The new rule is that there hardly are any rules. Since March 20th, 2022, a new version of the German Infection Protection Act is in place. Until last night at midnight, the state governments were allowed to follow the old, stricter Corona rules.
This means that most ‘2G’ and ‘3G’ rules just disappeared. It means that nobody can be banned from entering restaurants or most other places just because they do not have Corona vaccination certificates, proof that they recently recovered from COVID-19 or negative Corona test certificates. It also means that the mandatory mask rule in public buildings is gone in most states. Masks in supermarkets or other shops are not required anymore.
‘Basic protection’ is what the government calls it. Many European neighbors took similar approaches. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government is relying on people’s personal responsibility. Wearing masks is not forbidden, meaning everyone may wear them at ‘Aldi’ or ‘Lidl’, at the Pergamon Museum or even in the bathtub. But nobody may complain about others who do not wear them at the cheese counter.
In public transport, including in long-distance trains and aircraft, masks still have to be worn. When the conductor on any Deutsche Bahn train catches a passenger without mask, he or she will have to pay a fine. Those who create a scene might even be removed from the train by the police. At hospitals and care facilities, the mask rule still applies as well.
Of course, there are exceptions from the new rules. State parliaments have the right to declare their areas Corona hotspots. Once they do, restrictions may be put in place, including compulsory mask rules in public places, ‘2G’ and ‘3G’ rules. Two federal states, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, have chosen this approach. The world will feel less ‘normal’ there than in the rest of the Federal Republic of Germany.
There are more exceptions. All cultural venues and businesses has the right to determine who shall be allowed or denied access. This means a movie theater could require visitors to wear bunny costumes if they wanted to, or masks. The same applies to the organizers of events. For instance, masks are compulsory at today’s Berlin Half Marathon.
Berlin, the state with the lowest Seven Day Incidence in Germany, applied the new rules on Friday. Others, including Brandenburg, followed today. Of course there is criticism. The mask rule at shops was something everyone had gotten used to. It was a simple measure that actually helped prevent Corona infections. It remains to be seen how long the new, partial normality will last.
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