Restrictions ranging from crowd sizes at sporting events to rules regulating proof of vaccination for dining out are set to be lifted in Germany in the coming months as leaders signaled optimism about the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
German state and federal leaders agreed on a plan to lift most COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday, with the final steps to be taken from 20th March, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.
"We can look into the future with more optimism than we could in the last few weeks," he said.
After ramping up restrictions during an unprecedented wave of infections caused by the Delta and then the Omicron variant, Germany is set to follow several other European countries in making a gradual return to normality.
The three-point plan agreed on Wednesday envisages a stage-by-stage lifting of restrictions for private gatherings, retail outlets and restaurants and hotels.
From 20th March, all of the more far-reaching protective measures are to be dropped.
However, health experts will still call on people to protect themselves - and society at large - with face masks and social-distancing. The question about a vaccine mandate also lingers.
Such a mandate remains the policy of the German government, said Scholz.
The vaccine mandate is necessary for the next autumn and winter, he said after announcing the plans, arguing that easing of restrictions only works hand in hand with an expanded vaccination programme.
He also said that the lifting of the most onerous restrictions does not mean that the government won't be pushing for certain health standards. He said legislation would soon be forthcoming regarding masks, social-distancing and other measures.
News Source: Emirates News Agency