2G-plus: Germany tightens Covid rules for restaurants, bars and cafes

Access to Germany's restaurants, bars and cafes will soon only be possible for fully vaccinated and recovered people with a Covid-19 test - or for those who've had their booster under new rules.

Guests eat at a restaurant in Berlin.
Guests eat at a restaurant in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

That’s according to an agreement by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the state government leaders.  

Currently only fully vaccinated and those who’ve recovered from Covid-19 recently can enter most public areas, such as restaurants, bars, museums and non-essential shops (known as the 2G rule). People who choose not to get vaccinated are not allowed into these places. 

But under the new restrictions, the catering sector will have to introduce the 2G-plus rule nationwide. It means that fully vaccinated and recovered will have to show a recent Covid-19 negative test to enter bars, restaurants and cafes. 

People who’ve had their booster shot on top of being fully vaccinated do not need to take a Covid-19 test. They will instead have to show proof of their top-up Covid shot.

Scholz said the rules were “strict” but necessary “to help us progress more quickly” in the fight against Omicron, which he said “will be with us for a long time”.

KEY POINTS: Germany’s plans to soften the impact of Omicron

Previously, only some states and individual businesses have opted for the 2G-plus rule.

But it will soon apply nationwide and regardless of the incidence, according to the agreement from the government and states. 

For the time being, however, the state of Saxony-Anhalt will stick to the 2G rules, it emerged after the meeting.

State premier Reiner Haseloff (CDU) said the Delta variant is still the most dominant strain of Covid in the state so the new measures are not needed for the time being. 

The aim is to “pay special attention to bars and pubs,” when enforcing the new 2G-plus rule, the resolution paper states. 

On Thursday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said hospitality was a “problem area”.

READ ALSO: Germany considers tighter restrictions for restaurants 

It is unclear when the new nationwide rules will come into force. An earlier draft had earmarked January 15th.

Meanwhile, quarantine rules will also be relaxed to protect vital services and infrastructure from shutting down due to expected staff shortages, Scholz said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after Friday's meeting.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after Friday’s meeting. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AFP Pool | John Macdougall

Anyone infected with Covid as well as their close contacts will be able to end their quarantine after 10 days if they have no symptoms.

They can be released after seven days if they provide a negative test.

Those who have received a booster will no longer have to quarantine if they have come into close contact with an infected person.

READ ALSO: German government changes Covid quarantine rules

Omicron ‘will cause increase’

Germany has so far reported modest case numbers since the start of the year compared to many of its European neighbours, which have been engulfed by record surges.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) health agency recorded 56,335 new infections in the past 24 hours on Friday, with an incidence rate of 303.4 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

But Scholz said he expected that “the Omicron variant will cause infections to increase, and we will see larger numbers in the coming days and weeks than we are already seeing today”.

Germany’s new government under Scholz, who took over from Angela Merkel as chancellor in December, has so far ruled out imposing a lockdown.

However, it has limited private gatherings to 10 people, or two households if an unvaccinated person is present, as well as banning spectators from
football games.

Unvaccinated people have also been barred from large parts of public life, including cultural events, gyms and leisure facilities.

Scholz urged as many people as possible to get their booster, describing the jab as “the best protection against Omicron”.

Almost 42 percent of Germans have already received a booster, while 71.6 percent have received a first and second dose.

Scholz said last year he was in favour of compulsory vaccination in Germany, with parliament due to start debating the issue at the end of January.

Member comments

  1. So the vaccinated are now “unvaccinated” . By summer, the triple jabbed will be considered unvaccinated as well. Let’s make it a vaccine every 2 days and be done with it? I never expected Germany to become a crazy country but here we are

    1. No, full vaccination now requires 3 doses – that’s all. And yes, 4th dose will likely be required once vaccines will be updated to protect against Omicron better. That’s how anti-virus vaccines work – just like flu vaccines, etc. Nothing new or unexpected here.

      1. “now” is the keyword, and thank you for using it. Tomorrow it will be “48 doses”, next year who knows, what with the OMEGA, PI, and RHO, Delta36, Alpha1256, running rampant! We can never be safe enough, jab up, wear 4 masks, no, not the cloth kind, the EXPENSIVE one you can’t buy anywhere. And no, you can’t go to the movies.

        1. 100% George. There is no basis for this. What’s most disturbing is how little scepticism is coming from the media on this. The WHO, despite their own shortcomings, have been unequivocal – politicians can’t boost their way out of this mess. Give these doses to developing countries and/or force the vile big pharma’s to drop their patents if they feel headlines are needed.

        2. George, best way to limit further variants is to minimize the hosts that lead to mutants. If your fellow countrymen would just get vaccinated we wouldn’t be going through this cycle year after year and that has been proven with many virus’ in the past. For some reason people are now being purposely stupid, but thats for them to figure out.

          1. You do know/realize that the vaccines do NOT prevent re-infection or transmission right? Also you do know that the O variant came from outside Europe so even if you have 150% vaccination rate you will still see a huge number of cases and the media will pounce on those like it’s the end of the world? So either we focus on a sensible vaccination program with goals or standards that are NOT changing every week, or this will never end, as there is NO world where we have zero cases or deaths. My original comment was a cheeky take on the fact that the goalposts are being moved every day and makes people like me (who stood in line for hours waiting for my vaccine during the early days) to become skeptics.

          2. George, i’ve been in the business long enough to know nothing is 100% or guaranteed. But you do understand the premise of how a vaccine works right? At no point has any credible source EVER indicated a vaccine or being vaccinated was 100%, so lets get past that. But with half the population doing their civic duty and the other half being a$$holes, you can’t make any predictions on when or how this will be a background concern. The regular flu circulates with various strains and mutations and is controlled quite well with vaccination. Things change every week, so why wouldn’t ones response to it change? If you’ve read any, wars. virus’ etc roll in waves so your response needs to minimize the downsides, not eliminate infections. For those that have not been vaccinated, i have no tolerance for you or the whining you do when denied access to things the vaccinated have access to. We did our civic duty for the freedoms we have, when are you going to step up.

  2. The most annoying thing here is that both my wife and I are double vaccinated. Shortly before Christmas we both contracted the virus and had to quarantine for 14 days. We already had appointments for the booster, but these were cancelled by the doctor as the recommendation is to wait at least 3 months after recovering according to STIKO and RKI. So, this wonderful regulation now means before we can go to a restaurant we still have to get tested. According to a virologist, we have built up our immune system by having had the virus, more than the booster jab gives. Absolutely illogical.

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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.