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CHRISTMAS

Switzerland: What Germany’s new Covid rules mean for cross-border shoppers

The escalating Covid situation in Switzerland’s northern neighbour has led to tighter measures in several states. What does this mean for people from Switzerland visiting Germany for shopping or leisure, i.e. Christmas markets?

A picture of German supermarket Rewe
Cross-border shopping and leisure in Germany from Switzerland is still possible, but the rules are tight. Picture: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Germany has been a popular shopping destination for people living in Switzerland’s border areas for decades, with German supermarkets and retail outlets offering much cheaper prices than those available in Switzerland.

Other than for petrol – which as The Local Switzerland reported recently is cheaper in Switzerland than in most neighbouring countries – most goods are cheaper in Germany. 

Fuel in Switzerland: Why are Germans crossing the border to fill up?

As of Wednesday, November 17th, the border state of Baden-Württemberg has put in place stricter measures as Germany struggles with a resurgence of the virus. 

This includes contact restrictions as well as replacing the 3G rule with a 2G rule, i.e. which requires that people are either vaccinated or recovered from the virus to take part in certain activities (i.e. negative tests are insufficient). 

3G refers to the German words for vaccinated, recovered and tested – geimpft/genesen/getestet – and has been used to describe the conditions required to take part in many activities in German-speaking countries. 

This will impact cross-border shoppers from Switzerland, as well as people visiting Germany for leisure – such as to attend Europa Park or visit the state’s Christmas markets. 

Keep in mind that you can use your Swiss Covid certificate in Germany, as Switzerland and the EU – of which Germany is a member – have agreed to recognise each other’s Covid passes. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What do I need to enter Germany? 

Although there is a 3G requirement to enter Germany, this is waived if you will be in the country for less than 24 hours. 

READ MORE: Is Switzerland likely to bring back Covid restrictions this Christmas?

Therefore, unless it’s an excessively long shopping trip, you can enter without evidence of vaccination, recovery or a negative test. 

You do not need to fill in Germany’s entry form if you stay for less than 24 hours. 

Can people from Switzerland go cross-border shopping in Germany? 

Cross-border shopping in Germany is allowed, however the type of evidence you need to provide will depend on what type of shopping you will do. 

If you are visiting essential shops – i.e. supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations or bakeries – you do not need to show your Covid certificate. 

However, if you are shopping retail – i.e. non-essential stores selling electronics, clothes or other items – you need to be 3G compliant. 

What about meeting friends? 

Meeting people in private is restricted in Baden-Württemberg, unless you can show 2G compliance (recovered or vaccinated against Covid). 

If you are unvaccinated and not recovered from the virus, only one household can meet with one person. 

Couples who do not live together are counted as one household. 

What about Christmas markets? 

Generally speaking, you do not need a certificate to visit outdoor Christmas markets which are not fenced off. 

There are different rules in different states, however. 

State by state: Germany’s Covid rules for Christmas markets

In Baden-Württemberg, the rules are relatively tight. 

You can buy many of the arts and crafts which are on offer without a certificate. 

However, things change where the markets are fenced off or where you are consuming something, i.e. food or drink. 

Here, either 3G or 2G rules apply, depending on the Covid situation. 

Where the region is in the ‘warning’ area, the 3G rule will apply. 

If the region is in the ‘alert’ area, a 2G rule will apply. 

Several Christmas markets in Baden-Württemberg have already indicated they will adopt 2G rules. 

In Bavaria, things are comparatively relaxed. Generally speaking, you will not need to comply with 3G rules as long as you are outdoors, although fenced off areas and indoor areas may have 3G or 2G rules. 

Measures will be put in place on a regional level, so check ahead of time to see what rules will apply. 

What about cafes and bars?

Bars and restaurants in Baden-Württemberg have a 2G-plus rule in place. This applies on both the indoor and outdoor areas of the restaurant or bar. 

This means you need to be vaccinated, recovered from the virus or negatively tested with a PCR test. 

Antigen tests are not sufficient. 

READ MORE: What are the Covid rules for Switzerland’s Christmas markets?

What about everything else? 

3G rules are in place in hairdressers, 2G plus is required in hotels, and 2G rules are required in theatre, cinemas, clubs, concerts and museums. 

What about Europa Park?

If you’re headed to Europa Park over the festive season, you will need to comply with the 2G rule. 

Everyone aged 17 and under does not need to comply with this rule, however they will need to show a negative test to enter the park. 

Children aged 7 and under will not need to show a negative test. 

What do I need to show? 

Fortunately, you can show your Swiss Covid certificate in Germany due to a reciprocal agreement. 

As Germany still loves paperwork, any paper evidence you can bring will help, but the Covid certificate app should be sufficient. 

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 transport ticket

Germany is set to bring in a heavily reduced public transport ticket for three months this summer. Here's what our readers think about it.

'Fantastic': Your verdict on Germany's €9 transport ticket

We released a survey asking how many of you would use the €9 monthly ticket, being brought in by the German government for the months of June, July and August. The ticket will be valid on all local and regional transport across Germany – but not on long-distance services.

Respondents came from all over the country in almost all of Germany’s 16 states. 

And nearly all of our readers – 95.4 percent – said they planned to get the ticket. 

Just 1.1 percent of respondents said they would not use the offer, while 3.4 percent answered ‘maybe’.

Source: The Local

We also asked how many of you already have a subscription ticket with your local transport provider. Just over half – 52.6 percent – said they don’t have an Abo, while 34.9 percent are already subscribers.  

People with a subscription receive the discount as part of the €9 ticket offer. 

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

Source: The Local

The ticket is part of the German government’s energy relief package aimed at easing the financial burden on people. Politicians also see it as a trial for the future as the country tries to move towards climate-friendly policies. 

READ ALSO: When will Germany’s fuel tax cut come into force?

When we asked whether you think reduced price public transport this summer is a good idea, the vast majority of respondents – 86.9 percent – said ‘yes’. Just over 7.4 percent said they weren’t sure if it was a good idea, and just 1.1 percent said it wasn’t a good policy. 

Source: The Local

A snap poll on our Twitter page earlier this week also found that most people – 86.5 percent – planned to use the ticket. 

‘Why would anyone not use it?’

We also asked readers to share their views on what they thought about the ticket.

On The Local Germany’s Facebook page, Scott Widenhouse said it was “absolutely” a good idea. “A day pass from Munich airport is €13 approx, (in) Berlin – one ride is €3.”

Kat Thomas said: “I am so excited to get one for me and each of my kids. We rely super heavily on public transportation. This will be fantastic!”

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

Sue Guinane said: “Why would anyone not use it? It is cheaper than two regular daily tickets in Munich, so great savings.”

Others were not completely on board.

Of the comments on our survey, one respondent suggested that the ticket should be pricier in order to make it more sustainable. Another reader said it was going to be a “disaster” because travel providers would likely hike up prices after three months. 

On Facebook, Annmarie Wagner Schultz said: “It doesn’t help my son who uses the train and his bike to get to work.”

Tina Wetzel said she didn’t want to take advantage of the offer because transport will be “overcrowded”, and in the summer months, passengers will also have to deal with no air conditioning on trains and buses. 

 

“My nose prefers not to smell any of that,” she said on Facebook.

Others said it might come in handy.

Jeffrey Carson, in Neukirchen in Hesse, said: “Sounds a good idea but I use my car for local journeys and the new ticket does not include long distance trains which are the only trains I use. I suppose if I visit Munich it will be good to get the €9 ticket for day trips from there.”

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

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