Düsseldorf · In the midst of an intensified wave of infections, essential Coronavirus protection measures are being dropped. NRW is taking a more cautious approach. Some rules will be relaxed from 19 March, others not. An overview.
From today, Coronavirus contact restrictions, including for the unvaccinated, as well as spectator caps for events, will be dropped in NRW. However, the obligation to wear masks indoors - for example when shopping and in schools - will be extended until 2 April. In view of the rising number of infections, the state government is taking advantage of the transitional regulation in the amended Infection Protection Act, announced Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) on Friday.
This means that the indoor mask mandate will remain in force for the time being, but it will not apply outdoors. The 3G rule (vaccinated, recently recovered or tested) will also be maintained for the time being in recreational areas such as theatres, museums, cinemas, zoos, hotels and restaurants.
On Friday, the Bundestag passed the controversial new Infection Protection Act, which provides for a far-reaching abolition of most Coronavirus protection measures as early as this Sunday. However, the Act allows the federal states to keep most protective measures in place for a transitional period of two weeks until 2 April.
Contact restrictions and full capacity at events
As "basic protection", the obligation to wear masks in facilities for vulnerable people such as clinics and nursing homes, as well as on buses and trains, will remain in place beyond 2 April, according to federal law.
Contact restrictions, which had already been completely lifted for immunised persons, have now also been removed for persons who have not been vaccinated. In addition, all restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend facilities or events have been removed. This also applies to the Bundesliga.
For youth work, outdoor sports, meetings, weddings and celebrations in private rooms, access restrictions such as the 3G rule will no longer apply. For large events and public festivals, however, 3G still applies during the transition period. In clubs and discos, 2G plus will continue to apply, which means only vaccinated persons with an additional negative Coronavirus test will be admitted.
The obligation to wear masks outdoors will be lifted. However, the state government recommends wearing mouth-nose protection in situations with many people in a confined space.
NRW takes advantage of transitional regulation to extend protective measures
Unfortunately, many people are currently experiencing at first hand that the pandemic is not over, for example in their places of work, in their circle of friends and acquaintances or because they themselves are infected, said Minister Laumann. This is why NRW is taking advantage of the transitional regulation to extend protective measures. Earlier, the CDU politician had criticised the Bundestag's decision to abolish the nationwide Coronavirus requirements as wrong. "It makes no sense whatsoever."
The federal states will be able to impose more far-reaching restrictions on regional hotspots, even after 2 April, but this will only be possible if there is a resolution in the Landtag. Minister President Hendrik Wüst (CDU) had described the law as "practically unworkable" and criticised the hotspot regulation in particular.
Deputy State Premier Joachim Stamp (FDP), on the other hand, defended the elimination of most of the Coronavirus restrictions. He does not share the criticism of the Federal Disinfection Protection Act, the Family Minister said on Friday on the radio station WDR2. The measures had had the goal of protecting hospitals from becoming overburdened. This danger does not currently exist with the Omicron variant. If the hotspot regulation was needed at all, it could be implemented very quickly, Stamp said. Moreover, in an emergency, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat could reactivate the complete set of measures within five days.
Translation: Jean Lennox