BERLIN – The German government introduced a legal framework for pandemic regulations and rules Wednesday. Most of the country’s current coronavirus restrictions are set to end by March 20.
The country's health and justice ministers said if German lawmakers pass the framework, the country's 16 state legislatures could adopt the new “hot spot” measures if virus cases rise again in certain regions, if hospitals are at risk of becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, or if new virus variants start spreading.
The regulations cover matters such as mask requirements, social distancing, and requiring proof of vaccination, recovery of the illness or negative tests to be able to participate in certain parts of public life.
The framework also allows state governments to impose basic protective measures without a special parliamentary resolution, such as making masks mandatory in nursing homes, hospitals or on public transportation.
Nationwide, masks would remain mandatory on long-distance trains and flights.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the country’s state governors last month endorsed a three-step plan to end many remaining virus restrictions by March 20.
Shoppers are again allowed to enter nonessential stores without proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19. The rules for visiting restaurants and bars also were relaxed, and limits on private gatherings of vaccinated people have been lifted.
The number of new virus cases reported in Germany has gone up in recent days. Health offices reported 215,854 new cases Wednesday, up from 186,406 a week ago, according to the country's disease control agency.