BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Wednesday presented its plans for new coronavirus measures for the coming fall and winter as it expects virus cases to go up again during the colder season.
Wearing masks on planes and during long-distance travel by train and bus will be mandatory from October to early April all over Germany. Mandatory mask-wearing and the presentation of a negative coronavirus test will apply to hospitals, nursing homes and similar institutions with vulnerable people.
Many other rules will be implemented individually by the country's 16 states depending on how severely the virus spreads in their regions. This could include the wearing of masks on local public transportation, in schools for students in grade five and up, and at public indoor events.
Some community facilities such as schools, prisons or asylum-seeker shelters may also implement regular testing again if virus numbers rise, the German health and justice ministers said in a joint statement.
“Germany should be better prepared for the next coronavirus winter than in previous years,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said, adding that a vaccination campaign would start in the fall as well, with new vaccines.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann added that special efforts will be made to keep schools open.
“Children have a right to school education and a school day that is as carefree as possible. School closures must therefore not be allowed,” Buschmann said, adding that states will “only be able to impose a mask requirement at schools if this is necessary in order to be able to continue to provide in-person teaching.”
The new regulations still need to go to Cabinet and parliament but are expected to pass.