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What you need to know about Germany’s new ‘3G’ Covid health pass rules

German states are tightening the Covid health pass system to try and increase vaccinations, amid rising infections across the country. Here's what it means.

What you need to know about Germany's new '3G' Covid health pass rules
A sign for the 3G rule at a cafe in Stuttgart on August 16th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

What’s happening?

The 16 federal states are bringing in new laws that will see Germany’s Covid health pass become stricter. By August 23rd at the latest, uniform nationwide rules agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders at the recent summit will come into place across the country. 

It is known as the ‘3G rule’ in Germany. The Gs stands for the German geimpft (vaccinated), genesen (recovered) and getestet (tested). It means that people will have to show proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test to enter many places, such as cinemas or to visit people in nursing homes or hospitals.

This system formalises the patchwork regional approach that Germany has had in place since the end of the last Covid shutdown. The new approach is similar to other countries pushing the use of a health pass, including France and Italy. 

“Those who are not vaccinated will have to be tested regularly if they meet other people indoors, in order to prevent the spread of the virus,” said the government and states. 


But there’s one more thing: from October 11th, free-for-all Covid tests will come to an end in Germany, meaning that people who are eligible for vaccination but choose not to get it will have to pay for their tests. This will have massive implications – and could become pricey – for those who don’t want to get the Covid vaccine. 

It also means that people – including tourists – who use the free testing system before travel will have to pay in future. 

Why is this happening?

The aim is to convince people to get vaccinated as it’s much easier to flash your EU digital vaccination certificate (or a recent PCR test if you’re in recovery from Covid-19) than go and get a lateral flow test – or indeed pay money for a test in future. 

But it’s also in response to rising Covid cases. Germany is desperately trying to avoid a serious fourth Covid wave fuelled by the more transmissible Delta variant.

READ ALSO: Germany sees number of new Covid cases double in 24 hours

Where will the 3G rule apply?

People in Germany will have to get used to showing proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test much more often. 

There could be slight differences across states, but in general you will need this for entry to a cinema, theatre, amusement park, museum or gallery. You’ll also need it to sit indoors in a restaurant, go to the gym or to the hairdresser. It will be needed for  events and to visit tattoo parlours or beauty salons. 

The 3G requirement will generally not apply to shops, petrol stations, pharmacies, doctors as well as local and long-distance public transport.

There will also be rules for entry to hotels and other overnight accommodation.

As part of Berlin’s new rules which came into force on Friday August 20th, unvaccinated people will have to show a negative test when staying in hotels and repeat this every three days. 

There will also be special rules for clubs in most regions. Under North Rhine-Westphalia’s new restrictions anyone who wants to go to clubs or discos will need a negative PCR test if they are not vaccinated or in recovery from Covid. The same applies to sexual services, according to the state. The new rules come into place from Friday August 20th.

The state of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg are also only allowing unvaccinated people to enter clubs with a PCR test. Baden-Württemberg’s rules are already in place. 

All states will have their system up and running by Monday, August 23rd. As we mentioned previously, 3G proof has been required in lots of regions up to this point, but it is being expanded and moving to a nationwide regulation.

Do the new rules depend on the Covid incidence rate?

The federal and state governments agreed that the 3G rule has to apply in areas where the 7-day incidence of Covid cases rise above 35 cases per 100,000 people.

If the number is below that, states are free to decide whether or not to implement the rule anyway. 

However, the rule applies in general to all visits to hospitals and nursing home settings regardless of the incidence. 

As always, check with the state where you live in case there are any slight variations to the regulations. 

How do you show proof?

If you’re fully vaccinated you can show your yellow vaccination booklet. You can also show your EU digital vaccination certificate that you can get  from most pharmacies, vaccination centres or GPs.

The QR code can be uploaded to the Robert Koch Institute’s (RKI) Corona-Warn-app or the Cov-Pass app. If you can’t get access to that, you can keep the paper version of the QR code to use as proof. 

If you’ve recovered from Covid, you can show evidence of a positive PCR test that should have been taken at least 28 days ago and be no older than six months. 

If you’re eligible for vaccination but choose not to get one, you can use a PCR test (usually no older than 48 hours depending on the state) or a rapid antigen test no older than 24 hours. 

These are usually issued digitally or you can ask for a paper certificate. 

How much will a rapid antigen Covid test cost?

Right now they are free to everyone in Germany, and there’s a network of test centres across the country. But from October 11th, people will have to pay for them.

The ministries expect costs to range between €10 and €15. Pharmacies, however, believe the upper limit will be €20. But it really depends on the market and what the private providers decide. 

PCR tests will be more expensive. At the moment they cost somewhere between €50 and €100 but it varies depending on the provider.

What about if I can’t get the Covid vaccine?

As The Local previously reported, you will be required to show proof that you can’t get the vaccine, such as a letter from your GP, and then you won’t be charged for tests. 

“For individuals who cannot be vaccinated and for whom no general vaccination recommendation is available (especially pregnant women, children and adolescents under 18 years of age), there will continue to be an opportunity for free antigen rapid test,” said the government and states in its agreement paper. 

However, now the STIKO vaccine commission has issued a general vaccine recommendation for everyone over 12, this may change. We’ll keep you posted. 

Testing provided in schools and workplaces will continue to be free of charge to pupils and employees.

What about if I have Covid symptoms?

Free-of-charge PCR tests for people in Germany with symptoms will continue to apply. The cost is covered by health insurance organisations. If you have Covid symptoms, such as a loss of taste or sense of smell and a cough, contact your GP or the local health authority who will decide if a PCR test is needed. 

How long is the 3G rule in place?

According to the federal government and states, the rule will be reviewed every four weeks. 

Will it ever move to 2G?

It could. The government had discussed excluding unvaccinated people altogether (moving to 2G instead of 3G rules) if the infection rate rises but there were no firm decisions on this in the most recent round of talks. 

It should be noted, however, that private organisations may decide to bar the unvaccinated.

For instance, FC Köln have decided to only allow people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

READ ALSO: The Covid rules for attending football matches

Member comments

    1. Hi David, I think most things have been covered so far – but it has depended on the state and district so far. The government is trying to formalise the rules to make it stricter and make sure there are basically the same rules across Germany.

  1. So the bottom line is get vaccinated. My wife and I just returned from Germany via France. Spent July 14 – Aug 15 in France and Germany and trained from Paris to Frankfurt. Rented a car in Frankfurt and for the next two weeks stayed in Wurzburg. Day tripped to some of our favorite villages. Come on folks this is just getting crazy.

  2. Some people are making a lot of money out of all this. There are eminent medical specialists who are questioning all of this but they are silenced and threatened with job loss and research grants being pulled. Now booster shots because the effectiveness of this so called vaccine is diminishing with different variants popping up to keep the narrative going. No mention of taking D3 C and Zinc which some enlightened medical people were advising in February 2020.
    There are non mrna vaccines that are coming out they took longer to develop and are based on real vaccines.

    1. Agree. The whole situation is actually about money and has nothing to do with health. I wish people actually did some research on what they put into their bodies, rather believing in media.

  3. Has anyone read the latest PHE stuff that more vaccinated people are getting the Delta variant than unvaccinated. The trouble is the MSM all sing from the same hymn sheet and nobody is allowed to question anything. There are hundreds and hundreds of medical experts in every field of medicine including vaccine developers who are not allowed on MSM. Some have lost their jobs some threatened with being removed from medical registers some have had their research grants stopped.

    My sister works in a hospital in Kent (for operations treatments and consultations no A&E) and she told me that almost all the Surgeons doctors and nurses there don’t want the jab and those with families don’t want their children jabbed either. They won’t speak out publicly because they don’t want to loose their jobs.
    One must surely ask WHY.

    Does anyone remembers swine flu. When that vaccine killed 50 people in the USA it was withdrawn immediately. How times have changed. I remember the excellent documentary presented by Jon Snow about it. Now its a test for accessing almost everything. if you haven’t been jabbed but even if you have its still masks and social distancing. Some of us can’t have the “vaccine” for health reasons so we’re discriminated against as well.

    Who I wonder is going to pay compensation to the people injured by the “vaccine or to the families of people who have died from it. Where are the real statistics for adverse reactions and deaths. I look at Denmarks announcement and think good on them.
    Some people are making huge sums of money out of this especially the pharmaceutical companies the private covid test providers and the medical supply companies.

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.