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COVID-19

Covid ‘recovered’ status only valid for three months, says German Health Ministry

Germany is set to reduce the period of time in which someone counts as recovered from Covid-19 to three months, the Health Ministry revealed on Monday.

Covid testing centre in Hannover
A woman and child walk past a Covid testing centre in Hannover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

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’.  

READ ALSO: What documents do you need to carry for Germany’s 2G-plus restrictions?

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. 

Member comments

  1. Sounds like they are following the science here.
    Who exactly are the experts?
    Where is the evidence?

      1. I didn’t think they were. All I ever read is experts say. But never who these experts are or any evidence.

        Im no expert but it all seems a bit suspect to me. Almost like someone es profiting from it all. Pfizer expect to make 900 million in profit for the first quarter this year. Are Germany helping them make that every quarter now?

        And with the masks now having to be the FFP2 masks did the health minister fall out with the guy who makes the blue ones?

        1. And at the same time, I fully support wearing masks, testing, and mandating vaccines for risk groups and public workers. Pfizer’s profit has nothing to do with it. How much profit does the food industry make? You need food to survive, don’t you? Vaccines save lives. Just the specific rules don’t always make sense.

          1. I actually agree with you on nearly everything there. Only the mandating of things to go in or out of your body. Its really hard for healthcare workers. Since this vaccine can’t stop you spreading it. Im kinda ok with in not being needed.

            You’re bang on. vaccines save lives. We have data that show vaccines are great.

            The covid one. The data is still incomplete. I think, because of this. their profit margin does come into the equation at least a little.
            I pick on pfizers as they are the rolls Royce of the covid vaccination. They promised to sell the covid vaccination at cost during the pandemic. (Government funds. I.e. taxpayers money paid for the research) and before the second jab was fully rolled out they upped the price to become for profit.<- not illegal. But morally questionable.

            As for food. Most money is made from the unhealthy foods. If they've added sugar to it. Its adictive and profitable. I think everyone should try to get a garden and grow their own food. Be as self sufficient as possible. If you can travel to local farms many will sell fresh produce right from the farm including meat. (I love this topic. I always want to be more self reliant. I just have the habit of butchering my plants.)

            (On the stock market. The most profitable food and beverage industries involves alot of sugar. Healthy alternatives don't make as much profits.)

  2. Bremen has the highest cases yet is the most vaccinated State. Unvaccinated have been barred from public places for months now but still the figures rise. Hmmmmmmm

  3. It is becoming much easier to be more skeptical about or even to see right through this whole thing. The credibility of it all is at its lowest ever. I think it will only end when we, the people, end it!

    1. I saw that 30% of the population have lost complete trust in the government. Even people who were convinced the government would protect them are starting to question it. Its going to happen. Its just going to take some time.
      Its a shame we don’t have a Boris Johnson here. We need a good scandal. So they lower the restrictions to keep the masses happy. The numbers don’t go insane and the narrative falls away.

      Or when they start going after the triple jabbed people. (About March/April is my guess.. Then people will start asking questions.

      Or people will start noticing their neighbours are disappeared. In which case they should keep quiet.

  4. My doctor just told me today that in Switzerland they honor natural immunity for 1 year. In the US, they don’t honor it at all, really. This is not about science or medicine. If it were, the “experts” would draw the same or similar conclusions. This is about politics and money.

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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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