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COVID-19

Berlin allows Christmas markets to exclude unvaccinated people

Berlin's Christmas Markets are returning this year after a Covid hiatus in 2020 - but unvaccinated people may find themselves shut out from many of the festivities.

Christmas Market in Berlin Charlottenburg
Visitors walk in the rain at the Christmas Market on Breitscheidplatz in Berlin Charlottenburg. Photo: picture alliance / Gregor Fischer/dpa | Gregor Fischer

According to reports in regional daily Tagesspiegel, the Berlin Senate agreed on Tuesday that Christmas market organisers will be able to introduce ‘2G’ entry policy when the festive markets return this year on November 22nd.

That means that anyone over-12 would be asked to show proof that they are vaccinated (geimpft) or recovered (genesen) in order to gain entry to some of the markets, while people with a negative test could be turned away.

Since the ‘2G’ model is optional, Christmas market organisers will also be at liberty to choose a more liberal ‘3G’ policy instead, which would allow people with a negative test (getestet) to enjoy the markets as well.

However, with a more relaxed 3G policy, masks and social distancing will be mandatory – while for the 2G Christmas Markets, neither masks nor distancing will be necessary. 

Popular markets opt for ‘2G’

A number of Berlin’s most popular Christmas Markets have already confirmed that they will opt for the more restricted entry policy. 

For the famous WeihnachtsZauber market at Gendarmenmarkt, for instance, the organisers have made it clear that only vaccinated or recovered people will be able to gain entry.

The only exception to the rule is under-12s, who are currently unable to get vaccinated due to the lack of an approved vaccine. This group can get away with showing a negative Covid test, and children under 6 won’t have to show any proof at all.

READ ALSO: Berlin makes exceptions to ‘vaccinated-only’ rule

Another festive favourite in Berlin Mitte – the Weinachtsmarkt am Roten Rathaus – will also operate a ‘2G’ policy, with the same exceptions for children under 12 and six.

The Christmas Market at Spandau Citadel and two local markets in Marienfelde will also be using ‘2G’.

For the unvaccinated, the Weihnachtsmarkt an der Gedächtnis-Kirche near Zoologischer Garten will be one of the few major Christmas markets to run a ‘3G’ entry policy. 

No market at Schloss Charlottenburg 

Though the majority of Berlin’s markets will be back up and running this year, the Christmas market in front of Schloss Charlottenburg has fallen victim to the state’s Covid regulations.

“Politics has – once again – failed to create clear and real conditions for organisers in time,” organiser Tommy Erbe said in a statement at the beginning of October.

READ ALSO: World-famous Nuremberg Christmas market cancelled over Covid-19 concerns

The primary reason for the cancellation are rules forbidding alcohol in green spaces, which would have meant that mulled wine was forbidden at the Charlottenburg market.

Organisers also cited restrictions on the number of visitors to 2,000 at a time, and the obligation to wear masks at the market as reasons for cancelling the event.

However, the decision was made around three weeks before the Senate announced it would be allowing option 2G and the dispensing of masks at organisers’ discretion.

Member comments

  1. Good Grief. So, no tests, masks, or social distancing and all the while the vaccinated people can still get the illness and pass it along. (I personally know 2 double vaccinated people who have gotten it and died.) If the government were serious about stopping Covid 19, they would require all people, regardless of vaccination status, to take a test before entering events. Period.

    1. Shelley,

      Very sorry about your loss, that’s really awful. But it’s important for everyone to understand that there is no “stopping” COVID-19. It’s here to stay, and constant lockdowns and testing just aren’t feasible as long term solutions. The 3G rules aren’t perfect, but they are a reasonable mitigation strategy. The best we can hope for is that it gets us sooner rather than later to the inevitable outcome of COVID-19 becoming a flu-like disease in the general population.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

With infection numbers shooting up once again in Germany, states are set to bring in a new set of Covid measures on October 1st.

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of 'difficult' winter

From Saturday, masks will no longer be required on commercial flights, though people will still be expected to wear an FFP2 mask on long-distance trains.

States will also be given the option to introduce mandatory masks in other public indoor spaces, including on local public transport and in schools. If they choose to bring in masks, they’ll also have the freedom to introduce exceptions to masks for people who are recently vaccinated or who have tested negative for Covid.

States will also be able to introduce compulsory testing in schools and nurseries.

READ ALSO: German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Speaking at a press conference alongside Robert Koch Institute (RKI) chair Lothar Wieler on Friday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach defended the decision to keep Covid rules in place when other countries in Europe have largely got rid of their pandemic measures. 

“It’s not for me to criticise what other countries are doing,” said Lauterbach. “We have a particularly difficult winter ahead of us due to the energy crisis, we don’t want to make it worse through the Covid crisis.”

The SPD politician also defended plans for mandatory masks for residents and staff in nursing and care homes. Having 40 or 50 vulnerable people together in an enclosed space is “extremely high-risk”, he said. 

Under the new rules set to be introduced on Saturday, residents of care homes will be expected to wear FPP2 masks in all common areas of the home, and will only be able to take them off in their bedrooms.

“For people in nursing homes, the FFP2 mask requirement means a considerable cut in their quality of life,” Regina Görner, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations (Bagso), told DPA:

“The nursing home is their home, in which they can then no longer move freely without a mask.”

Visitors to nursing homes, meanwhile, will have to supply a negative Covid test, while staff will be tested three times a week. 

Under the autumn and winter rules, people across Germany will also be required to wear an FFP2 mask at their doctor’s surgery and in medical outpatient facilities such as hospitals.

“We’re better prepared than last autumn,” Lauterbach told reporters on Friday. “We have the infection numbers under control, we have this wave under control.” 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

Steep rise in cases

As the weather turns colder, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has reported a steep rise in respiratory infections, including Covid-19.

Last week, the number of Covid patients jumped dramatically from 500,000 to 1.2 million per week, with cases rising significantly in every age group.

Meanwhile, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people shot up from 409 on Thursday to 466 on Friday. The previous week, the weekly incidence stood at 294 per 100,000 people. 

The numbers are believed to be partially inflated by the ongoing Oktoberfest beer festival, which is being held for the first time since the pandemic started. In Munich, the location of the festival, the weekly incidence is almost 800. 

Speaking at the press conference in Berlin on Friday, RKI chair Wieler warned people not to get complacent about the threat of infection.

“A mild course of illness simply means not ending up in hospital,” he said. “We should be conscious of how much risk we want take on, and how much risk we can avoid.”

RKI chief Lothar Wieler

Robert Koch Institute chair Lothar Wieler (l) and Heath Minister Karl Lauterbach (r) hold a press conference in Berlin on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Despite the looming energy crisis, the RKI boss advised the public to ensure that rooms were well ventilated, adding that spaces normally occupied by a large number of people should be aired out more regularly.

He also advised people with Covid symptoms to stay home until they felt better in order to avoid passing on any infections, and warned that people should be especially careful to avoid contact with vulnerable people.

“Just like before, these people need our solidarity,” he said. 

Self-isolation and quarantine rules vary from state to state, but people who test positive for Covid generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10.

In some cases, people can take an additional Covid test in order to end their isolation early.

The RKI has also recommended that people wear a mask in public enclosed spaces. 

READ ALSO: What will the Covid situation in Germany look like this autumn?

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