The change is a significant one for unvaccinated people who had been relying on their post-illness immunity to gain access to bars, restaurants and other indoors venues.
Previously, this group of people had been able to get access to so-called ‘2G’ or ‘2G-plus’ venues for up to six months after recovering from Covid.
However, with the highly transmissible Omicron variant now dominant in Germany, this period has had to be halved to three months, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health explained.
This means that unvaccinated people will now need a positive PCR test that was taken more than 28 days ago and no longer than three months ago to gain access to public indoor spaces like cinemas, non-essential shops and gyms.
In hospitality businesses like cafes, bars and restaurants, they will generally need a recent negative test as well – a system known as ‘2G plus’.
Alternatively, they can ‘convert’ their status from recovered to vaccinated by getting one Covid jab. A single Covid vaccination is counted enough to ensure basic immunity following a Covid illness.
The changes come as Germany is poised to reduce the validity of digital vaccine certificates from 12 months to nine.
As of February 1st, people will have to get an additional jab in order to prevent their digital vaccine pass expiring after 270 days. This is in line with new EU legislation that comes into force next month.
In recent weeks, numerous states have also passed legislation to shorten the amount of time people have to wait for a booster jab.
To combat declining immunity and reduce hurdles to getting an additional jab, people are able to get one after just three months. Previously, most people were told to wait six months before getting a top-up jab.
Due to its numerous mutations, Omicron is much more capable of infecting people who have existing immunity from vaccinations and illness, experts say.
The previous six month ‘recovery’ status was based on the Delta variant, the Health Ministry told German business publication Handelsblatt.
Immunity from vaccinations and a Covid illness is believed to decline over time.