Living in Germany: How many people am I allowed to meet under new Covid-19 rules?

As Germany deals with a resurgence in coronavirus cases, states have tightened contact restrictions. We break it down for you.

Living in Germany: How many people am I allowed to meet under new Covid-19 rules?
People walking in Chemnitz, Saxony. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state leaders agreed last week on new restrictions to try and keep the spread of coronavirus under control in Germany.

They include:

– If a district or city logs on average 35 infections per 100,000 people in seven days there should be: extended mask restrictions in busy places, possible curfews for bars and restaurants, restrictions on numbers at big events, a maximum 25 people allowed to meet for celebrations in public spaces and 15 in private rooms.

– If a district or city logs 50 infections per 100,000 residents in seven days there should be: an 11pm curfew on restaurants and bars, a maximum of 100 people at events (except if hygiene plans are given the go ahead), a max of 10 people or two households allowed at private celebrations, max of 10 people allowed to meet in public, possible accommodation bans, new mask restrictions, and people should avoid non essential travel.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's new coronavirus measures for autumn

But there can be differences in the way the rules are implemented across federal states. Here's a rundown of the latest rules in each state. As the situation can change quickly, please keep an eye on your local government website. We've listed the links below.

BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG: Since Monday, only a maximum of 10 people or the members of two households can meet privately or indoors. Public gatherings are also limited to 10 people. In general, a minimum distance of 1.5 metres must be maintained.

BAVARIA: Groups of up to 10 people can meet in public spaces. In private rooms and gardens there is no number restriction, but the number of people should be limited so that a minimum distance of 1.5 metres can be maintained.

Locally, this requirement may vary depending on the incidence of infection. If the incidence value rises steadily above 50, only people from a maximum of two households, close relatives or groups of up to five people can meet.

A lockdown is in place in the Alpine district of Berchtesgadener Land.

BERLIN: Outdoors, only five people or people from two households can meet from 11pm to 6am in public. A court overturned a curfew for pubs, shops and late night outlets between 11pm and 6am. However, alcohol is still not allowed to be served during this time.

During the day, groups of up to 50 people will still be permitted to meet outdoors. Private events and meetings indoors can have a maximum amount of 10 people. Previously the limit for indoor gatherings was 25.

BRANDENBURG: No contact restrictions apply at the moment. However, in future, if the state hits 50 new infections per 100 000 inhabitants in seven days, only up to 10 people will be able to meet in public.

There will also be a curfew for bars and restaurants from 11pm. Masks are already obligatory in public transport and in shops. In areas that clock up 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, masks will also be mandatory in offices and restaurants if you are not at your seat.

BREMEN: Because of the high infection rates in the city of Bremen, a maximum of five people may meet in public without a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between them.

HAMBURG: In a private setting, up to 25 people can come together for celebrations, regardless of the number of households. Meetings in public are limited to 10 people from any number of households. In addition, prostitution is permitted again – but under strict conditions and only in registered prostitution centres.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travelling within Germany right now

HESSE: Up to 10 people can meet in public without having to keep the minimum distance and regardless of the number of households they come from.

MECKLENBURG-WESTERN POMERANIA: There are no contact restrictions. However, everyone is required to keep the required distances as far as possible and to wear face masks if a 1.5m distance can't be maintained.

LOWER SAXONY: For groups of up to 10 people, the minimum distance of one and a half metres does not apply. In the case of relatives or members of two households, the group may be larger without having to keep the distance. For private meetings a maximum of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors can gather.

NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA: In principle groups of up to 10 people from different households can meet in public. From an infection value of 50 cases per 100,000 people in seven days, only meetings of five people are permitted in the affected district or town.

RHINELAND-PALATINATE: Up to 10 people are allowed to meet, regardless of the number of households they come from. The state capital of Mainz restricts the number of people or households meeting in public spaces to a maximum of five people or two households.

SAARLAND: Meetings of up to 10 people are allowed.

SAXONY: Two households can meet. Meetings of up to 10 people are also permitted, indoors and outdoors. In future, if 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants occur within seven days, there will be a curfew from 11pm in the catering trade. If there are 50 new infections per 100 000 inhabitants within one week, there will be a ban on the sale of alcohol from 10pm.

SAXONY-ANHALT: The state government recommends that people do not meet in groups of more than 10 and to keep the number of people you are in contact with in person to a minimum. There are no contact restrictions.

SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN: Meetings of up to 50 people are permitted in private rooms. Outside, up to 150 people are allowed to gather.

THURINGIA: There are no contact restrictions. However, the current regulation recommends meeting only with one other household or with a maximum of 10 people.

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.