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COVID-19

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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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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