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COVID-19

What we know so far about Germany’s new 2G-plus rules for restaurants

Germany announced new rules that mean vaccinated people will only be able to enter restaurants, and bars with either a negative Covid test, or proof of a booster shot. What does it mean in practice across states? We looked into what we know so far - and what's still not clear.

A sign for a restaurant in Hesse shows from January 11th there are 2G-plus rules.
A sign for a restaurant in Hesse shows from January 11th there are 2G-plus rules. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

What’s happened?

Last Friday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 state leaders decided to toughen up restrictions for the hospitality industry. In their agreement, the government and states said: “In the hospitality sector (restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs, etc.), the 2G-plus rule will be introduced nationwide.”

The 2G-plus rule means that vaccinated people, and people who’ve recovered from Covid, can enter a restaurant, cafe or bar with a recent negative Covid-19 test (usually no more than 24 hours old). People who have been vaccinated and have received a booster jab can enter the facility without a test. 

“Only vaccinated and recovered persons with an up-to-date test, or with a booster vaccination (from the day of the booster vaccination) should have access,” said the government. 

The aim is to make public places safer and encourage people to get their booster jab. 

READ ALSO: 

What does it actually mean in practice?

When you go to visit a restaurant or other catering facility in Germany in the future, you will be asked to prove that you have been vaccinated and boosted, or have been vaccinated/recovered and have a recent negative Covid-19 test.

In reality that means staff will have to take a closer look at your documents, like a test certificate or the EU digital vaccination pass before you can get through the door. 

Unvaccinated people are excluded from entering at all, as was the case under the previous 2G rules. 

Where does 2G-plus not apply?

In general the 2G-plus rule isn’t in place for shopping or on public transport. The 2G rule (entry for vaccinated and recovered people only) is in place for non-essential shops, and the 3G rule (entry for vaccinated, recovered people, and for unvaccinated people with a recent negative test) applies to public transport. 

A person walks past a pub in Mainz with 2G-plus rules.

A person walks past a pub in Mainz with 2G-plus rules. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

What about leisure or cultural facilities and events?

The 2G-plus rule is being extended to events and some culture/leisure facilities depending on the individual business or the state.

For instance in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, 2G-plus also applies to many cultural events or sports. So check before you visit a museum or attend an event in case it’s 2G-plus.

It is also in force across Germany in clubs but they are currently closed. 

When will this happen, and will it be across the board?

As is often the case in Germany, it depends on the state. That’s because the 16 federal states are tasked with bringing in the legislation, so there may be some regional differences. 

German news site Focus Online reports that by January 25th, 2G-plus will have to apply to the hospitality industry nationwide. Most federal states seem to be bringing it in this week. North Rhine-Westphalia’s 2G-plus restrictions come into force on January 13th.

Others – like Bavaria – are unsure if they want to have 2G-plus in restaurants at all at the moment. 

Bavarian authorities say they already have tighter rules than other states (for instance bars are closed there), so they may not need 2G-plus in restaurants.

Saxony-Anhalt has rejected the 2G-plus rule for now and will stick with 2G. 

Keep an eye on updates from your local authority. 

What counts as being vaccinated and boosted?

Here’s where it all gets a bit tricky, but this is what we have gathered so far.

Vaccinated and recovered people are generally divided into two groups under the 2G-plus rule. There are the people who have received a “(simple) basic immunisation,” and those who have a “complete basic immunisation with booster.”

All vaccinated people who have a third jab or booster vaccine (shown as status 3/3 in the CovPass or CoronaWarn app) are exempt from the obligation to test for 2G-plus.

A pro-vaccine demonstrator holds a sign that says vaccination equals solidarity in Griefswald.

A pro-vaccine demonstrator holds a sign that says vaccination equals solidarity in Griefswald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

Germany recommends that people get a booster jab three months after basic immunisation to boost immune defence. When you visit a public place, you are usually asked for photo ID along with the vaccination certificate. 

TIP: Carry your paper vaccination proof as well as the digital one which might make it easier for venue operators to check. 

What if I’ve had the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine and an mRNA jab? Am I boosted?

According to the German government’s advice on booster vaccines, people vaccinated with the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen) vaccine should get a “second vaccine dose (mRNA) from four weeks after the first vaccine dose to optimise the first vaccination.” That is then counted as an optimised basic immunisation, but not a booster. 

The government then recommends a “booster vaccination (mRNA) after a further three months.”

We’ve contacted the German Health Ministry for clarity on what exactly this means for 2G-plus, but it appears that people who’ve had J&J will not count as being boosted if they’ve had only two doses.

So they will have to show a negative test to access restaurants, cafes and bars in the future if they haven’t had the third shot. This hasn’t been widely publicised so may catch a few people out. There are an estimated 3.5 million people vaccinated with J&J in Germany. 

What if I’ve had a Covid infection after a vaccination?

There is more confusion over what happens if someone has had a jab, and then got Covid after. 

Germany’s Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) has not issued a specific recommendation on this, according to Focus Online.

In Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Hesse, Saarland and Thuringia, those affected must provide proof of a test for 2G-plus according to the current regulations. However, it is possible that this will change after STIKO issues a recommendation. 

In general, Germany recommends that people who contract Covid after the first or second vaccine dose, get a booster jab three months after the infection.

TIP: Check with your GP if you have any questions about vaccines after getting a Covid infection, or if you have any underlying conditions that may affect your immune system. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When should I get my booster in Germany if I’ve just had Covid?

Here’s an overview of some different combinations:

First vaccination + second vaccination + booster vaccination = fully immunised/boosted, with 2G-plus you don’t need a test.

First vaccination with J&J + second vaccination + booster = fully immunised/boosted, no test needed for 2G-plus

Covid recovery + vaccination + booster vaccination = fully immunised/boosted, no test needed with 2G-plus.

First vaccination + second vaccination + recovery = this is still a bit unclear. Test may be needed under 2G-plus rules, check with the local authority rules.

First vaccination + recovery + vaccination = test may be needed under 2G-plus rules, check with the local authority.

First vaccination with J&J + second vaccination = it appears this is classed as basic immunisation so a test will be mandatory with 2G-plus.

TIP: People who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons are usually exempt from having to show vaccination and recovery certificates. However, for them, at least with 2G-plus, testing is compulsory and the corresponding medical certificate showing their exemption must be presented.

What happens if I’ve had the second vaccination recently?

People who’ve just been double vaccinated will likely need an additional test. The second vaccination is considered basic immunisation.

There is an exception in Bremen. The state has introduced a special 3-month rule. If the second vaccination or vaccination after recovery from Covid was given less than three months ago, those affected are exempt from the test obligation under 2G-plus.

What about children?

This is up to the states to decide and the rules vary. 

In general 2G-plus will not apply to younger people, because STIKO does not have a general recommendation for a booster vaccine for children and young people.

As young people are tested regularly at school, it is usually sufficient to present the school ID card (sometimes with proof of vaccination) at 2G-plus/2G facilities. 

For children under five in Germany there is no currently Covid vaccine recommendation.

READ ALSO: German state vaccination centres roll out booster jabs for teenagers 

Will there be any pushback on this?

Yes, in general a small minority of the German population protests regularly against all Covid restrictions. 

On Monday about 188,000 anti Covid measures demonstrators marched through several German cities, with some clashing with police. 

In total there were more than 1,000 demonstrations throughout the country, including in Lübeck, Cottbus, Rostock and Magdeburg. 

Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance. The situation can change quickly so check any official restrictions in your area. 

Member comments

  1. Prediction.

    In a few months. 2 jabs and recovered will be banned like the unvaxxed. Jabbed and one booster will enter with a test. Jabbed and 2 boosters may enter without test. And each quarter the groups will move along. So we can all be. You know. Safe.

    This 2G plus just seems so stupid. I’m still waiting to see a headline asking how to solve the unvaxxed question.

  2. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same results. How many times and how often are you going to inject this vaccine into your body? To stay safe? Are you sure you’re safe? At some point, people have to stop being mindless sheep.

    1. I dont think many people will be bothered until boister 5 or 6. I would love to know how many jabs governments have promised to buy from these for profit organisations.

      1. You may be right. I think the breaking point will be when the all-knowing has decided it has to be mandatory 3 times per year for kids to go to school, and you see young kids having side effects and mothers starting to raise hell. Then and maybe then, people wake up. But hey, to each their own.

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COVID-19 RULES

Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder (CSU) has announced plans for a "prompt" end to mandatory masks on buses and trains.

Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

If infection levels and hospitalisations remain low, the end of the mask-wearing rule could come as soon as December or January.

“We are convinced that the mask requirement in public transport could also be phased out either in mid-December or early next year, if the numbers remain reasonably stable and there are no new mutations,” Söder explained on Monday, following a meeting with the CSU executive committee. 

A decision on when to end the measure would be made “promptly”, he added.

The CSU politician had said last week that the sinking infection rates meant that compulsory masks were no longer appropriate and that the mandate could be changed to a recommendation. 

No set date for change

The latest version of Bavaria’s Infection Protection Act – which lays out an obligation to wear masks on public transport as one of the few remaining Covid rules – is currently due to expire on December 9th.

State ministers could decide whether to let obligatory masks on buses and trains lapse on this date as early as next week, or they could decide to initially extend the legislation and set an alternative date for ending the rule.

Regardless of their decision, FFP2 masks will continue to be mandatory on long-distance public transport until at least April next year, when the nationwide Infection Protection Act is due to expire.

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

Speaking to Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Florian Herrmann (CSU), head of the State Chancellery, confirmed that Covid-19 had been discussed in passing.

However, no decisions or discussions were made on how to proceed after the expiry of the regulation, he said.

According to Herrmann, the fact that Covid was no longer the “dominant topic” in the cabinet under “enormous tension” shows “that we are returning to normality” in a gradual transition from pandemic to endemic. 

As of Wednesday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 108 in Bavaria, down from 111 the previous day. However, experts have cast doubt on how meaningful the incidence is in light of the fact that fewer people are taking tests.

Nevertheless, the 133 hospital beds occupied by Covid patients in the Free State falls well below the 600 threshold for a ‘red alert’. With Omicron causing less severe courses of illness than previous variants, politicians have increasingly focussed on hospitalisation statistics to gauge the severity of the situation.

‘A risk-benefit trade-off’

Bavaria is the second federal state to announce plans to relax its mask-wearing rules in recent weeks.

On November 14th, the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein announced that it would be ending obligatory FFP2 masks on public transport and urged other states to do the same. From January 2023, masks on public transport will only be recommended rather than mandated for passengers on local buses and trains. 

However, the Federal Ministry of Health has urged states not to loosen their rules too quickly.

Given that infection rates are likely to spike again in winter, “there’s no basis for loosening restrictions”, said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

Physicians are also split on whether an end to masks on public transport is appropriate.

READ ALSO: Will Germany get rid of masks on public transport?

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at the German Hospital Day in Düsseldorf on November 14th. Lauterbach is against the lifting of the mask-wearing rule. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

Christoph Spinner, a virologist at the University Hospital in Munich, told Süddeutsche Zeitung he believed it was time to put the decision on mask-wearing back into the hands of individuals.

“Why not? The incidences are low, the danger of Covid-19 has dropped significantly and mortality has also decreased,” he said. 

But the Bavarian General Practitioners’ Association spoke out against the move, arguing that – unlike a trip to a restaurant or cinema – people often have no choice but to travel on public transport.

“If the obligation to wear a mask in public transport is maintained, this will help to protect against a Covid infection on the way to work by bus or train – especially in view of the discontinuation of the obligation to isolate in the event of a Covid infection,” they explained.

Bavaria is one of four states to have recently ended mandatory isolation for people who test positive for Covid. Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein both scrapped their isolation mandate last week, while Hesse removed its obligation on Tuesday. 

READ ALSO: Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

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