Among the topics being discussed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and state leaders on Friday is a requirement for the ‘2G-plus’ rule in the hospitality industry.
The draft document put together ahead of the meeting proposes that from January 15th at the latest, access to catering businesses (restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes and similar) across Germany will only be possible for people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19, along with a negative Covid-19 test.
If people can show proof of having a booster jab, they don’t need to show a Covid test.
Before the meeting, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said he believes more contact restrictions are needed in bars and restaurants because of the more transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Lauterbach told the German news programme RTL Direkt on Thursday that leaders were considering the 2G-plus rule that would mean people could only enter indoor hospitality areas if they “have been vaccinated twice and tested”.
“Only those who have been boosted will be able to enter (without a test),” he said.
“Hospitality is a problem area,” added Lauterbach. “People often sit there for hours without a mask. And if people there then infect each other, as we see a lot with Omicron, then we need better protection. Hence – 2G-plus – so vaccinated and additionally tested.”
Some businesses have already voluntarily moved to the 2G-plus rule, but this would create a uniform regulation nationwide.
But it’s been met with some opposition.
The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) slammed the planned introduction of the 2G-plus rule.
The association’s chief executive, Ingrid Hartges, told German daily Bild: “Nationwide 2G-Plus would be a disaster for pubs and restaurants.”
Hartges warned that bar and restaurant owners should not be the ones to suffer if the government “apparently wants to create incentives for the third vaccination (booster)”.
Hartges called on the federal and state governments to instead expand vaccination and testing capacities “so that this gruelling situation is brought to an end as quickly as possible”.
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The Bavarian Hotel and Restaurant Association also rejects 2G-plus in restaurants.
“The planned decision would be tantamount to a quasi-lockdown in January, which is already extremely weak in terms of turnover, and for many establishments it would no longer be profitable to continue opening,” association president Angela Inselkammer said.
Can we expect more contact rules?
Lauterbach also did not rule out an extension of – or tougher – contact restrictions.
Currently a maximum of 10 vaccinated and recovered people can meet in private across Germany.
Unvaccinated people are allowed to meet with their own household and a max of two people from another household.
In both cases, under-14s are not included.
Germany on Friday reported 56,334 Covid cases within the latest 24 hour period, and 264 deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 303.4 infections per 100,000 people.