What is it and why do I need to know?
It may sound like we’re talking about technology, but Germany’s 3G system has nothing to do with the Internet. The 3G rule means that anyone entering most indoor spaces now has to be geimpft – vaccinated, genesen – recovered, and getestet – tested against Covid-19. It came into place across the 16 states on Monday August 23rd, although a few regions implemented it slightly earlier.
The federal and state governments agreed on the measure at the beginning of August. The aim of the nationwide 3G rule is to try and avoid future tough restrictions like lockdowns, and encourage more people to get vaccinated.
Those who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid within the last six months need to show proof before unlocking most indoor activities, such as eating inside, going to the gym or to an event.
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People who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to will need a negative test result. The federal government will cover the cost of the rapid tests for the time being but from October 11th, unvaccinated people will have to pay up to €20 (or more) per rapid test.
A patchwork version of this system was in place before this point, but it varied from state to state. It has now been formalised and widened out.
You can read our explainer for more detail.
Does it depend on the level of Covid infections?
The federal government and states agreed that the 3G rule would come into place when states reach 35 Covid cases per 100,000 people within seven days.
But in Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, the rule applies regardless of incidence.
In Brandenburg, the health pass system comes into place at 20 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, and in the rest of the country from an incidence of 35 new infections per 100,000 people.
Will I face a fine if I don’t have any proof with me?
You probably won’t get in. On the whole, businesses are responsible for implementing the obligation to provide evidence and testing.
Restaurateurs, hairdressers and the operators of fitness studios, hospitals or nursing homes must check proof. If they fail to do so, they face a fine.
The amount is determined by the federal states. Baden-Württemberg, for example, charges restaurateurs up to €10,000 for “failing to comply with an obligation to check proof of testing, vaccination or recovery when operating a facility.” The “standard rate” is €650.
But guests can also be asked to pay. The municipalities and law enforcement officers can issue expulsions and warnings, but in the worst case scenario, charges can be brought. Anyone who violates infection protection laws and Covid regulations can expect fines of between €50 and €25,000.
Where do I need to show proof?
The proof and test requirement applies when visiting someone in hospital, a nursing home or similar facility regardless of the incidence rate.
People also need it to go to the gym, hairdresser, beauty salon, museum, amusement park, zoo and inside bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes. The 3G rule is also implemented at events.
People won’t need to show proof to get takeaway coffee or food. But if you want to sit in and drink coffee, you’ll need it.
There may be slight differences from state to state so check local rules.
For instance, a court in Berlin ruled on Friday that the indoor area and dance ban in clubs should be overturned – but only for people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid – effectively making it 2G instead of 3G.
We could see more facilities or private providers moving to exclude unvaccinated people in future.
Where do I not need proof?
At private meetings, family gatherings, at work, when shopping and in libraries no proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test is needed.
It also won’t apply to public or long-distance transport.
Are there exceptions?
Young children under the age of six and schoolchildren who are regularly tested are generally exempt from the 3G rule – but once again, familiarise yourself with the local rules in your area.
If there’s a reason you can’t get the vaccine – or are not eligible for it – then you won’t be charged for tests after October 11th. You can get a letter from your doctor to that effect.
What does it mean for tourists?
Tourists will also have to stick to the rules. Germany accepts vaccination certificates from other countries. But the vaccine must have been approved by the EU – currently Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen.
You are counted as being fully vaccinated in Germany on the 15th day after your last dose. If you’ve had one jab after recovery that is also accepted as being fully vaccinated. Mix-match-vaccines – or Kreuzimpfung – is also accepted in Germany as long as the vaccines are approved by the EMA.