Berlin and Baden-Württemberg begin vaccinating priority group 3

Since Monday morning, people from Berlin and Baden-Württemberg’s priority group three have been able to make appointments for a coronavirus vaccine.

Berlin and Baden-Württemberg begin vaccinating priority group 3
People wait for a vaccine in Messe Berlin on April 26th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Priority group 3 includes anyone over the age of 60, as well as anyone working in “particularly relevant positions.”

Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein will also open up vaccination appointments for this group starting on Thursday May 6th. Most other states are still vaccinating priority group 2, but will begin giving out appointments for the third group in the coming weeks. 

Priority group 2 includes people aged 70-79, people with serious pre-existing conditions, as well as primary school teachers, riot police and two designated contacts of pregnant women.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do I prove that I belong to one of Germany’s vaccine priority groups?

Vaccinations in Baden-Württemberg

As of Monday morning, anyone over the age of 60, those with pre-existing conditions and up to two contact people of those in need of care can be vaccinated in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg.

Anyone with the following pre-existing conditions qualifies for the vaccine: treatment-free cancer, HIV, rheumatic and autoimmune diseases, heart disease, asthma and obesity.

READ ALSO: When will I be in line for a Covid-19 vaccination in Germany?

But, unlike in Berlin, “people in relevant occupational groups still have to be patient. The opening of this group is expected, depending on the vaccine deliveries, around mid-May,” said social minister Manne Lucha of the Greens in a press release

This further opening step makes around 1.5 million more people eligible for a jab, according to Lucha.

A certificate from the attending physician serves as proof of vaccination eligibility.

For the contact persons of people in need of care, a template for self-certification was put online on the homepage of the social affairs ministry on Monday morning.

Vaccinations in Berlin

Vaccinations opened up at 7am on Monday, and the capital’s telephone hotline (030 90 2822 00) was partly overloaded due to the high volume of calls. Many people were asked to try again later. 

Via the city website or Doctolib, appointments for a vaccine with US manufacturer Moderna could be booked in some of Berlin’s six vaccination centers starting in mid-May. 

In other vaccination centres, such as the Arena in Treptow or the Messehalle in Charlottenburg, where only Biontech/Pfizer is offered, there were longer waiting times for appointments.

Berlin is one of four German states who have dropped the priority list and opened up vaccines with AstraZeneca to all adults who have a consultation with a doctor. It is, however, officially only recommended to those over the age of 60.

READ ALSO: These are Berlin’s GPs vaccinating non-registered patients with AstraZeneca

“The vaccination campaign in Berlin will be further advanced with the opening of prioritisation group three,” said state senator Dilek Kalayci on Friday. 

“It’s good that we can now also invite the over-60s and, above all, make an offer of vaccination to those who work in crucial positions for our community.”

Here’s a breakdown of who qualifies for the vaccine in Berlin: 

– Anyone in Berlin 60 years or older. They can now be vaccinated by their family doctor, book an appointment online, or set up an appointment for one of the six Berlin vaccination centres.

– Anyone at risk of a severe or fatal course of infection from the virus.

– Up to two contacts of anyone in need of care.

– Election workers who have a special certificate from their employer.

– People in “particularly relevant positions” in critical infrastructure facilities and companies should be vaccinated in a few weeks by company doctors. Journalists with a press card or certificate are also able to be vaccinated. 

– Persons working in medical facilities for children and young people, and in the food trade.

– Teachers and other service personnel at secondary and vocational schools. The approximately 50,000 employees can book a vaccination appointment immediately. They will be informed about the details through a letter from the Senate Education Administration.

– Employees of the Berlin administrations are only eligible for vaccination if they hold a particularly relevant position, which is estimated to be currently limited to 12 percent of employees. This is determined by the respective department head, who will issue a certificate workers can bring to their appointment.

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.