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EXPLAINED: What are the Covid rules for tourism around Germany?

With the summer holidays underway in many places, we looked at what the latest rules are in some of Germany's most popular states for tourism so you can get an idea of what's going on across the country.

EXPLAINED: What are the Covid rules for tourism around Germany?
People enjoying the beach in Binz, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

From dancing outdoors to staying at hotels or attending events, people in Germany have been making the most of life after the Covid shutdown. 

German states have been easing a lot of Covid restrictions, although they are keeping en eye on the infection incidence rate and other factors. Here’s a look at some of the eased rules across popular German states you may live in or visit soon for a vacation. 

We’ve given an overview, but to find all the latest details make sure to visit the local government site of the area you’re heading to. There may also be some differences among districts within states. 

Note that contact restrictions across Germany do not apply to vaccinated people or people who’ve recovered from Covid-19. 

READ ALSO: Five lesser known summer destinations to visit this year

Baden-Württemberg: The southern state is following a reopening plan similar to most of the country that depends on the incidence rates in districts. 

The focus – like what’s happening across Germany’s states – is very much on the ‘3G rule’ – that is geimpft, genesen oder getested. So that means to unlock lots of activities, people need to show proof of full vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or that they have tested negatively. 

When it comes to tourism – guesthouses, hotels, holiday homes and campsites in the southwest are receiving guests. On arrival, proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative rapid test is required. This is waived when there’s a 7-day incidence of less than 35 cases per 100,000 people.

Hotels are allowed to open saunas, baths and wellness areas for their overnight guests. Restaurants and cafés are also open. For incidences above 35, the number of people is limited, and proof of vaccination or equivalent is required.

Events such as theatre performances or concerts are also allowed. If the incidence is below 10, up to 1,500 people are allowed to gather outdoors, and up to 500 indoors. If the incidence is higher, stricter rules apply. The mask requirement remains in place.

Clubs will soon be able to open when there’s an incidence under 10 and with limited capacity, contact tracing and the 3G rule. However, BaWü says it is waiting for the results of pilot projects to see how this can work in practice.  

Bavaria: Hotels, guesthouses, holiday homes, campsites, mountain huts and youth hostels are allowed to open in districts and towns with a stable incidence of less than 100 over five days.

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Guests must bring a negative coronavirus rapid test no older than 24 hours, proof of vaccination or recovery when visiting a hotel. From an incidence of 50 cases per 100,000 people or above, further Covid tests are required every 48 hours, although fully vaccinated and recovered people are exempt from the obligation to test.

The bridge over the beautiful Sylvensteinstausee in Lenggries, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

If there’s a 7-day incidence of 50 or above, visitors to restaurants, swimming pools, amusement parks, theaters, cinemas, etc. also need an up-to-date negative coronavirus test – if they have not recovered or are fully vaccinated.

Cable cars and boats, restaurants, saunas, swimming pools and amusement parks are open. City and mountain tours are also possible. The general rule is: if the incidence remains below 50, guests do not have to take the test.

When it comes to contact restrictions – if the incidence is below 50, up to 10 people from any number of households can meet. If this number goes up, gatherings of a maximum of 10 people from three households are allowed (excluding children under 14).

Berlin: In the capital, overnight stays in hotels, guesthouses or holiday flats have been possible again since mid-June. Guests do not have to present a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination.

But people who want to be served indoors in pubs and restaurants must present a negative test result or proof of vaccination/recovery. Exceptions apply to hotel guests who dine or drink in the hotel restaurant. Outdoor restaurants have been open for a longer period of time, and there is not a testing requirement here.

READ ALSO: Why and where Germans are choosing to go on holiday by car this year

Berlin lifted its contact restrictions on Saturday July 10th. It means private meetings indoors are now unrestricted but people are still encouraged to get tested regularly, particularly before meeting up in large groups. Contact rules outdoors were already lifted. 

When it comes to masks, FFP2 coverings must still be worn on public transport but the cheaper medical masks are also now acceptable in shops, restaurants, education facilities, during church services, and in libraries and museums. 

Cinemas, theatres, opera houses and concert halls are also allowed to open with compulsory testing (or proof of vaccination/recovery) and a hygiene concept. Museums and memorials are also open; there are city tours and boat trips again. 

From July 10th, indoor events with up to 1,000 people are allowed. If there is adequate ventilation in the event space, the limit is 2,000.

For indoor events with 50 or more participants, you will still need to present a negative test result in order to gain entry. For outdoor events, the upper limit on attendees is 2,000 people, and a test is compulsory for events with more than 750 participants.

READ ALSO: Berlin to relax more Covid-19 rules

Brandenburg: Hotels and holiday flats are open again for tourist overnight stays – a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination or recovery is required. However, the obligation to test is waived if the 7-day incidence is stable at less than 20 – this currently applies to all districts and independent cities.

Visiting restaurants indoors is also possible without testing. In discos and clubs, testing is still compulsory. No more than one guest per ten square metres can be admitted. 

Tour groups in Schlepzig, Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

Hamburg: Since June, tourists have been able to stay overnight in the Hanseatic city again. Like other places, there are strict hygiene regulations and you have to show a negative Covid test, vaccination proof or recovery to hotels and the like. At the moment there is no occupancy limit. 

Outdoor catering is allowed but indoor guests are only allowed if they have a negative test. Under the usual hygiene conditions, harbour and city tours are also permitted – in open vehicles even without a mask. Museums and libraries are open, as are zoos and botanical gardens, theatres, operas and cinemas. Only clubs remain closed at the minute like in many places across Germany. 

However, since Friday, July 2nd up to 250 people can dance outdoors, provided they have been tested, vaccinated or have recovered.

There are also new deadlines for the validity of coronavirus tests in Hamburg: PCR test results can now be up to 72 hours old, and rapid antigen tests up to 48 hours.

Up to 10 people from any number of households can now meet both indoors and outdoors. Private celebrations are also possible again. If there are more than 10 people, a distance and mask are required – as well as a the 3G requirement indoors.


Hotels, holiday homes, youth hostels, campsites and the like are open under certain conditions. Guests must present a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination/recovery upon arrival.

Establishments with communal facilities are required to ask unvaccinated guests to test themselves once a week for longer stays. For indoor catering, a daily negative test must be presented, and guests and waiters must wear a medical mask. In outdoor dinging, masks are no longer compulsory.

Dancing in the outdoor area of clubs and discos is allowed again. Swimming pools can reopen, as can zoos, museums and amusement parks.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

Lower Saxony

A new regulation came into force on Monday, June 21st which essentially follows a step-by-step plan.

In districts and cities with an incidence below 35, 10 people from up to 10 households are allowed to meet. Children under 14, and carers for people are not included in that rule. When there’s a 7-day incidence of less than 10, up to 25 people can meet indoors and up to 50 outdoors. 

Overnight stays are generally possible up to an incidence of 100 throughout the country. The only requirement is a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination/recovery. Restaurants and other similar facilities are also open. When the incidence is under 35 Covid cases per 100,000 people there is no requirement to provide a test for indoor or outdoor dining. 

Most tourism activities are open. You have to wear a mask at your seat on bus, boat or cable car journeys. 

Revellers of clubs and discos have to present a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery. The mask requirement no longer applies to weekly markets or shop car parks (but it is still needed inside shops). 

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: The holiday state in the north-east reopened its hotels, guesthouses and campsites to guests from other federal states since the beginning of June. However, they must present a negative Covid test on arrival, or show proof of being fully vaccinated or recovered. The long deserted Baltic Sea beaches are visibly filling up at the beginning of the holiday season. Restaurants have been open since the end of May.

Zoos and museums can be visited, while theatres and the classical music festival have already kicked off the summer season – with audience limits and mandatory masks. The presentation of negative Covid tests is no longer required when visiting restaurants or events.

North Rhine-Westphalia: From July 9th, people in most regions of North Rhine-Westphalia no longer face any contact restrictions and can enjoy major events like street festivals and sports tournaments with up to 25,000 attendees. But anyone going to these events has to show a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery or vaccination. 

This phase – termed ‘Opening Stage Zero’ – applies to all regions of the state that have had a 7-day incidence of less than 10 new infections per 100,000 people.

Crowds dance at a music festival in Dortmund back in 2016. Dortmund is one of the North Rhine-Westphalian cities where social restrictions will be relaxed. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | André Hainke

The means that cities like Duisburg, Essen, Bonn, Paderborn, Münster, Dortmund and Bielefeld have relaxed rules. But other spots like Cologne and Dusseldorf – where the 7-day incidence remains above 10 but below 35 – remain in ‘Opening Stage 1’, where tighter restrictions are required. 

In areas with the lowest Covid rates contact details are no longer required in places such as restaurants, hotels and bars.

At big private events, masks and social distancing are now no longer required, but “recommended” – though attendees will have to show a negative test or proof of vaccination/recovery. 

However, masks will still have to be worn on public transport and in shops and taxis.

Tourism is generally open across NRW. Guests must show proof of vaccination or recovery or present a test upon arrival.

Rhineland-Palatinate: In Rhineland-Palatinate there have been further relaxations since July 2nd. For instance, employees in hotels and restaurants no longer have to wear masks if they have been tested on a daily basis.

Guests in restaurants or cafés no longer have to make reservations in advance indoors, and don’t have to show a negative test. Hotel guests only have to show this on arrival, but no longer every 48 hours.

Concerts, sporting events and public festivals are also possible again under certain conditions.

Clubs and discos are allowed to open again with hygiene plans; they will need appropriate ventilation systems, for example, and a maximum of 350 people will be allowed at the same time. Zoos, museums and outdoor swimming pools have already been open again for several weeks.

Schleswig-Holstein: Further relaxations have been in effect since June 28th. Concerts, theatre and cinema performances are allowed indoors with up to 1,250 people, and outdoors with up to 2,500.

Overnight guests must bring a negative Covid test that is no more than 48 hours old. 72 hours after arrival, one additional test is required. Outdoor catering has been allowed in the north for a long time, and now indoor catering is too. But guests must present a negative test (or proof of vaccination/recovery) except for overnight guests in the respective hotel.

Clubs and discos are also allowed to reopen: for a maximum of 125 people and with a hygiene concept, contact data collection, mask and test obligation.

Up to 10 people can meet privately indoors again with no restriction on number of households. Celebrations without fixed seats are allowed with up to 250 people inside, outside with 500 – with appropriate conditions. At private events, vaccinated and recovered people do not count.

Thuringia: The eastern state is also open to tourists. Tour buses and the like have been possible when there’s an incidence below 50 cases per 100,000 people. When the incidence is below 35 the testing obligation is dropped, but people still have to wear masks. Hotels and guesthouses are allowed to accommodate guests with an incidence below 35 – i.e. almost everywhere. The obligation to test and the occupancy limit of 60 percent have been dropped.

To find out the latest incidence in a district, city or federal state, check out the Robert Koch Institute dashboard here which shows the number of cases per 100,000 people over seven days on the left hand side.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.