Germany plans ‘full freedom’ for vaccinated in Covid crunch talks

People who are vaccinated against - or recovered from - Covid could regain a number of freedoms in Germany this autumn, while the unvaccinated are likely to face charges for regular tests.

Germany plans 'full freedom' for vaccinated in Covid crunch talks
Visitors show their vaccination booklets to get into the Europa Park theme park in Baden-Württemburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

The proposals, which were laid out in a paper obtained by German daily Tagesspiegel, have been put forward by the Chancellery ahead of key talks between Angela Merkel and the 16 state leaders.

According to Tagesspiegel, Merkel’s office is pushing for those who have been fully jabbed to be given an almost complete return to normality in September – with the except of small rules like wearing a mask in public transport and shops.

In reality, that means that vaccinated and recovered people “will be exempt from federal and state regulations that impose testing requirements”, the paper states.

They would also be able to continue to avoid quarantine when returning from abroad – even after visiting virus variant or high-incidence areas. 

READ ALSO: How Germany’s new travel rules to fight the fourth Covid wave may affect your holiday plans

The requirement to show a negative test is likely to be introduced for practically all events and public venues before the end of August, meaning unvaccinated people will have to get tested regularly in order to eat in restaurants or attend sports events like football matches, for example. 

In addition, Merkel and the state leaders are set to discuss whether to end the current free rapid testing scheme, meaning unvaccinated people would regularly need to shell out between €20-30 if they wanted to visit a museum, or go to gym or bar, for instance. 


Those who have a certificate of vaccination or recovery to hand, however, would simply have to show their digital certificate of vaccination or recovery, or a paper copy of either. 

A new ‘health pass’ system? 

As reported by The Local on Friday, the move equates to a ‘health pass’ system of the sort introduced in countries like Italy and France, where people need to show evidence of vaccination, recovery or negative tests in order to participate in public life again.

Describing where tests or certificates might be needed, the paper reportedly mentions indoor catering (i.e. restaurants and bars), accommodation such as hotels, gyms and services that require close physical contact, like hairdressers and beauty sales.

In addition, people could soon need to show their ‘health pass’ to access hospitals, old people’s and nursing homes, or attend big sports or cultural events.

READ ALSO: Is Germany set to introduce a nationwide ‘health pass’ system?

While some states have a similar system in place for certain types of event or activity, the regulations are currently not uniform across the country. If Merkel’s proposals are taken up, the system could well come in nationwide.

Lolli tests, ‘3G’ and the state of emergency 

A number of other Covid-related topics are up for discussion at Tuesday’s roundtable.

Some of the other items believed to be on the agenda include: 

  • Lolli tests for schoolchildren 

Lolli tests – a more comfortable alternative to the current nasal swap – are purportedly set to be used in schools and nurseries as a precaution against Covid breakouts.

Schoolchildren take their Lolli tests at a school in Essen. The Lolli tests are reported to be on the agenda at Tuesday’s talks. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roland Weihrauch

According to Tagesspiegel, the Chancellery paper suggests that exceptions would be in place for very young children. 

  • Transitioning from ‘3G’ to ‘2G’ 

Currently, the ‘3G’ rule (geimpft, genesen, gestestet) allows vaccinated, recovered or recently tested people to cross the border into Germany and enjoy activities like shopping or going to a concert.

In light the faltering inoculation drive, however, state premiers will debate federal government proposals to introduce a ‘2G’ system instead, which would remove the option to provide a negative test rather than proof of vaccination or recovery.

This is allegedly an option being pushed by the Federal Health Ministry – but only if infections reach a critical level in the coming months. 

  • A nationwide ‘traffic light’ system 

Though the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is keen for the 7-day incidence of infections per 100,000 people to remain a crucial bellwether for decisions on Covid regulations, there is general agreement among politicians that other factors need to be taken into account.

This is because, with around 55 percent of the population fully vaccinated, hospital admissions could remain at a low level in spite of rising infection rates. 

READ ALSO: German virologist says UK’s falling Covid cases despite lifting restrictions gives ‘hope’

Deciding the basis on which key political decisions should be made will be a major discussion point at the upcoming talks. If politicians decide that the 7-day incidence is no longer enough by itself, plans could be put in place for a nationwide ‘traffic light’ system – similar to the one in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania – that grades the Covid situation based on numerous factors, such as infections, deaths and hospitalisations. 

  • Extending the ‘epidemic situation’ legislation

A piece of legislation declaring the country to be in an “epidemic situation of national significance” was last voted on in early June, and is due to expire on September 11th. The legislation provides a legal basis for the federal government to put emergency regulations in place during the pandemic and even overrule the states on some matters.

At the talks this Tuesday, the government and state leaders will discuss renewing this legislation for another three months. 

READ ALSO: What can we expect from Merkel’s Covid talks with state leaders?

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Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

Germany has unveiled a draft of new Covid laws to run until April next year, with mask mandates set to remain in force, but lockdowns and school closures ruled out. Here's what we know so far.

Masks and no lockdowns: Germany's new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

The German government has prepared a graduated plan to try and limit the spread of Covid-19 this autumn. Under the new draft Infection Protection Act, states will be allowed to put in place certain rules to protect the population against Covid, from October. 

It was unveiled by the Health Ministry and Justice Ministry on Wednesday. 

Among the plans are for masks to remain compulsory in long-distance transport and in hospitals. They could also be made compulsory in other indoor areas, such as restaurants, but usually with exceptions for those who are recently vaccinated, recovered or tested. 

“If the number of cases rises sharply – masks (can also be enforced) outdoors where distances are not sufficient, and upper limits indoors,” said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, of the Social Democrats, in a tweet where he showcased the plans. 

How long will the law be in place?

The current Infection Protection Act runs out on September 23rd. The new laws, which form the legal basis for Covid-19 measures in Germany, will apply from October 1st to April 7th 2023.

READ ALSO: Masks and tests: The Covid rules that tourists to Germany should know about

What are the draft plans?

As shown above in the diagram tweeted by the Health Minister in German, the rules have been divided into “”winter tyres” (Winterreifen)  and “snow chains” (Schneeketten), which is meant to represent possible different stages.

There are rules that will apply to the whole of Germany during the autumn/winter and early spring, certain measures that states can bring in, and the option for tougher restrictions if the situation worsens.

Nationwide protective measures from October 1st 2022 to April 7th 2023:

– Mandatory FFP2 masks on airplanes and on long-distance public transport.

– Mandatory masks and testing for access to hospitals and similar facilities, as well as for employees.

– Exceptions to the requirement to provide proof of testing are envisaged for recently vaccinated and recovered people, as well as for people who are being treated in the respective facilities or service providers.

– Exemptions from the mask requirement are provided for some people receiving treatment, for children under six, for people who can’t wear a mask for medical reasons, and for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wears an FFP2 mask at a conference in June.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wears an FFP2 mask at a conference in June. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Optional tougher measures for states:

Under the draft plan, states can take additional measures if the pandemic situation requires. These include:

– Mandatory masks on public and regional transport.

– Mandatory masks in indoor spaces such as restaurants and cultural facilities. However, the plans envisage exceptions for people who have tested negatively against Covid, or who have been vaccinated or recently recovered. This could mean that the so-called ‘3G rule’ returns.

– Compulsory testing and/or masks in certain communal facilities (such as shelters for asylum seekers and children’s homes). Compulsory masks in schools would only apply to pupils from the fifth school year onwards.

Extreme measures when situation is critical:

State parliaments can enact even stricter measures if there is a threat of the health system or critical infrastructure becoming overburdened. These include:

– Compulsory wearing of masks indoors – and even outdoors if the minimum distance of 1.5 metre cannot be maintained. An exemption for recently vaccinated, tested or recovered people wouldn’t apply. 

– Mandatory health and safety plans (such as disinfectants and ventilation) for businesses and events in the recreational, cultural and sports sectors.

– Ordering a minimum distance of 1.5 m in public spaces and at outdoor events.

– Upper limits for participants at events in indoor areas.

What else should I know?

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, of the Free Democrats, said it was important that Germany would not see further lockdowns, but that masks were a key part of the plan. 

“There should only be restrictions on freedom if they are necessary,” said Buschmann. “Our concept therefore rejects lockdowns and curfews.

“Instead, we rely on measures that are both effective and reasonable. Masks protect. And in certain situations, mandatory masks are also reasonable.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP)

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) gives an interview to DPA on February 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“That is why masks will be compulsory in hospitals and nursing homes as well as in long-distance transport. If the pandemic situation so requires, the states can also order compulsory masks for other areas of public life indoors. In culture, leisure, sport and gastronomy, however, there must be exceptions for tested, newly vaccinated and newly recovered persons.”

Buschmann said Germany was also relying on “individual responsibility of civil society – as most other European states do”.

He added that the government was paying “special attention” to schools.

“Children have a right to school education, and a school day that is as carefree as possible,” he said. “Therefore, there must be no school closures. A blanket obligation to wear masks in schools would also not be appropriate.”

What happens next?

The Cabinet will take a look at the proposals before the final draft goes to the Bundestag to be voted on.