New regulations from the Health Ministry, due to come into force on Wednesday, provide for the increased usage of rapid antigen coronavirus tests in Germany – for example in the care sector and in schools
For travellers coming from risk areas abroad, however, coronavirus tests will soon no longer be free of charge.
Here's what's changing this month in Germany under the new rules.
Reduced quarantine period
Due to the increased availability of more rapid antigen tests across Germany, the government and states have agreed to allow a “test-based reduction of the quarantine period”.
On December 1st the quarantine period for those who've come into contact with coronavirus-infected people was reduced from 14 to 10 days. This shortened period can only take place if a negative test result is presented.
“A shorter quarantine period relieves the burden on the citizens concerned and the health authorities and mitigates the economic consequences of quarantine orders for the individual and for the national economy,” said the government and states.
The cost of the test is covered by health insurance. A doctor or the public health department will determine whether you are a contact person.
A first-degree contact person is someone who has had contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes, with a distance of less than 1.5 metres.
If you test positive for Covid-19, you should continue the quarantine and your doctor or health provider will instruct you on the next steps.
No more free tests for people returning from risk zones
At the moment when people come from a high risk area abroad they have the option of being tested for coronavirus free of charge at the earliest five days into the required 10-day mandatory quarantine.
However, this offer will expire soon: from December 16th onward tests will no longer be free of charge for those arriving in Germany from risk zones, DPA learned from Health Ministry circles.
Additionally, people who make an “avoidable trip” to risk areas will no longer receive compensation for loss of earnings during the quarantine period.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as deaths or family emergencies.
The Robert Koch Institute publishes a list of countries considered risk areas.
Rapid tests for risk groups
Nursing homes, hospitals and doctors' surgeries should be able to use more rapid antigen tests – on patients, residents, staff or visitors.
Up to 30 tests per month per resident or patient in homes and hospitals will be possible instead of the 20 tests currently used.
Facilities must create test plans for this strategy. The health authority then determines how many tests can be purchased and financed by health insurance companies.
In outpatient care, 15 instead of 10 quick tests per month and patient should be possible. Rapid tests will now also be possible in emergency services and day clinics.
Tests in schools
The Health Ministry explained that rapid tests – after a case of infection – should also be used in schools.
According to the government and states, the respective group, i.e. usually the class, is to be quarantined for five days after a case has occurred in a class. Rapid tests can be performed on day five. Children who have tested negative can then return to school.