15 km rule: Which areas in Germany are affected by new movement restrictions?

People living in badly-hit coronavirus areas in Germany are now subject to new movement rules. Here are the areas affected and how to calculate the 15 kilometre radius.

15 km rule: Which areas in Germany are affected by new movement restrictions?
Bautzen in Saxony is one of the coronavirus hotspots in Germany. Photo: DPA

What is the 15 km rule?

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders decided last week on new tighter rules to try and stem the spread of Covid-19 to bring numbers down and ease the burden on hospitals.

As part of the new measures people living in districts with very high Covid infection rates will have their freedom of movement drastically restricted.

For districts with a 7-day incidence of more than 200 new infections per 100,000 residents, the radius of movement is to be restricted to a 15 km radius around the area you live, unless there is a valid reason to travel further.

Exceptions can include trips for work or medical appointments.

“Shopping, travelling and day-trips explicitly do not constitute a valid reason,” the government and states say.

Chancellor Merkel had been pushing for this order to come into force in regions with an incidence rate of 100 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. If Merkel had got her way, this rule would have applied to most of the country, effectively bringing travel to a complete standstill.

The travel restriction can be lifted if the infection levels are below 200 for a period of time (usually at least seven consecutive days). Note that not every state is enforcing the rule, and there can be differences in the way it is rolled out.

READ ALSO: These are Germany's new tighter lockdown rules

These are the areas with an incidence over 200 as of Monday January 11th


District of Passau

Berchtesgadener Land district

Wunsiedel district

Kulmbach district



Deggendorf district

District of Coburg

District of Kronach

District of Rottal-Inn

District of Bayreuth

District of Regen

District of Roth


District of Donau-Ries

District of Cham


District of Tirschenreuth


Lichtenfels district

District of Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen


Weiden i.d.Opf

District of Freyung-Grafenau



District of Dingolfing-Landau

Haßberge district

The map below gives an idea of the worst affected areas in Germany as of January 11th. The deep red and purple coloured areas have over 200 cases per 100,000 residents in seven days and may be affected by new restrictions.


District of Dahme-Spreewald

District of Elbe-Elster

Frankfurt Oder

District of Oder-Spree

District of Oberspreewald-Lausitz

District of Ostprignitz-Ruppin

District of Potsdam-Mittelmark

District of Teltow-Fläming

District of Uckermark

Havelland district

Spree-Neisse district

Cottbus district



Limburg-Weilburg district


District of Fulda

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Mecklenburg Lake District

Lower Saxony

District of Gifhorn

Lower Saxony does not force affected districts to apply the 15 km rule, but leaves it up to the municipalities.


District of Saarbrücken


District of Meißen

District of Bautzen

District of North Saxony

District of Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge

District of Erzgebirgskreis

Görlitz district

Central Saxony district


Zwickau district


Vogtlandkreis district




District of Dessau-Roßlau


Wittenberg district

Saalekreis district



No district above 200 incidence yet



Ludwigshafen am Rhein

District of Bad Kreuznach


Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district

District of Hildburghausen


Eichsfeld district

District of Schmalkalden-Meiningen

District of Saale-Orla

Unstrut-Hainich district

District of Altenbuger Land

Wartburkreis district

Sonneberg district

Hildburghausen District

Saale-Holzland district

Gotha district

Saale-Holzland district

Greiz district

Eisenach district

Sömmerda district

Ilm district


Nordhausen district

District of Gera

Jena district

District of Weimarer Land

District of Erfurt

In Thuringia, the radius of movement will not be restricted by decree. The cabinet agreed on a recommendation, not an obligation.


The new rule kicks in on Saturday January 16th. Read more in our story here.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Since Tuesday January 12th, the 15 km rule has also been in force in NRW.

The state government issued a regional ordinance with specifications on how and in which districts people's radius of movement will be restricted. The ordinance initially lists four districts: Höxter, Minden-Lübbecke, Recklinghausen and the Oberbergischer Kreis.


No areas of over 200 incidence reported so far.

The 15-kilometre rule does not apply in these federal states at the moment:


However, the situation can change quickly so keep an eye on your local rules (and the incidence number in your district). You'll find information on the Robert Koch Institute website.


How do you calculate a 15 km radius?

The aim is to stop people from going on day trips. The German government and states already say that in general everyone should refrain from non-essential travel, whether it's within the country or abroad.

So it's safe to say wherever you live, authorities would prefer if you didn't travel far.

If you need to calculate a 15 km radius there are a few sites where you can do that.

Note that the place of residence is usually the city/town where you live, not your own address. But in some states the rules may differ on what is classed as your place of residence.

To work out the radius, you could try the CalcMaps calculator here.

You could also try this interactive calculator.

Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.


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Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder (CSU) has announced plans for a "prompt" end to mandatory masks on buses and trains.

Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

If infection levels and hospitalisations remain low, the end of the mask-wearing rule could come as soon as December or January.

“We are convinced that the mask requirement in public transport could also be phased out either in mid-December or early next year, if the numbers remain reasonably stable and there are no new mutations,” Söder explained on Monday, following a meeting with the CSU executive committee. 

A decision on when to end the measure would be made “promptly”, he added.

The CSU politician had said last week that the sinking infection rates meant that compulsory masks were no longer appropriate and that the mandate could be changed to a recommendation. 

No set date for change

The latest version of Bavaria’s Infection Protection Act – which lays out an obligation to wear masks on public transport as one of the few remaining Covid rules – is currently due to expire on December 9th.

State ministers could decide whether to let obligatory masks on buses and trains lapse on this date as early as next week, or they could decide to initially extend the legislation and set an alternative date for ending the rule.

Regardless of their decision, FFP2 masks will continue to be mandatory on long-distance public transport until at least April next year, when the nationwide Infection Protection Act is due to expire.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

Speaking to Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Florian Herrmann (CSU), head of the State Chancellery, confirmed that Covid-19 had been discussed in passing.

However, no decisions or discussions were made on how to proceed after the expiry of the regulation, he said.

According to Herrmann, the fact that Covid was no longer the “dominant topic” in the cabinet under “enormous tension” shows “that we are returning to normality” in a gradual transition from pandemic to endemic. 

As of Wednesday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 108 in Bavaria, down from 111 the previous day. However, experts have cast doubt on how meaningful the incidence is in light of the fact that fewer people are taking tests.

Nevertheless, the 133 hospital beds occupied by Covid patients in the Free State falls well below the 600 threshold for a ‘red alert’. With Omicron causing less severe courses of illness than previous variants, politicians have increasingly focussed on hospitalisation statistics to gauge the severity of the situation.

‘A risk-benefit trade-off’

Bavaria is the second federal state to announce plans to relax its mask-wearing rules in recent weeks.

On November 14th, the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein announced that it would be ending obligatory FFP2 masks on public transport and urged other states to do the same. From January 2023, masks on public transport will only be recommended rather than mandated for passengers on local buses and trains. 

However, the Federal Ministry of Health has urged states not to loosen their rules too quickly.

Given that infection rates are likely to spike again in winter, “there’s no basis for loosening restrictions”, said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

Physicians are also split on whether an end to masks on public transport is appropriate.

READ ALSO: Will Germany get rid of masks on public transport?

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at the German Hospital Day in Düsseldorf on November 14th. Lauterbach is against the lifting of the mask-wearing rule. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

Christoph Spinner, a virologist at the University Hospital in Munich, told Süddeutsche Zeitung he believed it was time to put the decision on mask-wearing back into the hands of individuals.

“Why not? The incidences are low, the danger of Covid-19 has dropped significantly and mortality has also decreased,” he said. 

But the Bavarian General Practitioners’ Association spoke out against the move, arguing that – unlike a trip to a restaurant or cinema – people often have no choice but to travel on public transport.

“If the obligation to wear a mask in public transport is maintained, this will help to protect against a Covid infection on the way to work by bus or train – especially in view of the discontinuation of the obligation to isolate in the event of a Covid infection,” they explained.

Bavaria is one of four states to have recently ended mandatory isolation for people who test positive for Covid. Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein both scrapped their isolation mandate last week, while Hesse removed its obligation on Tuesday. 

READ ALSO: Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation