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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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Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

Health ministers across Germany's 16 states are debating the government's new Covid plan - and politicians in Bavaria say they want more clarity.

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

On Tuesday, federal and state health ministers planned to discuss the Covid protection proposals for autumn and winter presented last week by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

However, some states and politicians are not satisfied with the plans. 

Under the proposals, masks will remain mandatory in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to introduce further measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport.

States will also have the power to take tougher Covid measures if the situation calls for it, such as mandatory masks indoors, but lockdowns and school closures have been ruled out. 

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

The draft law states that there can be exceptions from wearing masks in indoor spaces, such as restaurants, for recently Covid-vaccinated or recovered people. 

But Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) told DPA that these planned exemptions were not justified because vaccinated and recovered people can still transmit infections. “There are clear gaps in the current draft law,” said the CSU politician.

Dominik Spitzer, health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bavarian state parliament, also questioned this exception, saying the rules “simply made no sense”.

“With the current virus variant, that would be impossible to convey, since even vaccinated people can continue to carry the virus,” the FDP politician told Bavarian broadcaster BR24. 

The coalition government’s graduated plan under the new Infection Protection Act, is set to be in force from October 1st until April 7th next year. 

The powers for the states are a first step, “but they do not go far enough for us”, Holetschek added, while calling for some points to be tightened up. “We need strong guidelines for autumn and winter.”

Holetschek said the government needed to tighten up the criteria with which states can adopt and enforce more effective measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Could Germany see a ‘patchwork’ of Covid rules?

Meanwhile, CDU health politician Erwin Rüddel said Germany was on the “wrong track” and the country should find “a completely different approach” to Covid policy than it has so far.

He accused the coalition government of being in “panic mode” and said he doubted the Bundestag would pass the proposals.

“I believe, there will be significant changes (to the draft)”, he said.

But the chairperson of the doctors’ association Marburger Bund, Susanne Johna, backed the plans.

“The proposal for the new Infection Protection Act gives the states sufficient possibilities to react adequately to the infection situation,” Johna told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

“The states can take regionally adapted measures to protect people if the need arises. I can’t understand why this concept is being called into question right away.”