SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

Millions of Germans no longer considered ‘fully vaccinated’ on public transport

People who've had the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine could find themselves on the wrong side of '3G' rules this week as public transport operators say they will no longer be counted as fully vaccinated.

ICE train at Berlin Hauptbahnhof
Passengers enter an ICE train at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test is needed to travel on trains in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Carsten Koall

The change comes on the back of changes to the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ under German law.

Guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute and Ministry of Health now states that people who’ve had a shot of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) now require a second shot of either J&J an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer/BioNTech in order to be considered fully vaccinated. 

Previously, J&J had been the only Covid vaccine to require just one dose – rather than two – for full vaccination protection. 

READ ALSO: Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Speaking to The Local on Tuesday, a spokesperson for German rail operator Deutsche Bahn confirmed that people who’ve had just one shot of J&J would need a negative test in order to travel on their trains in future.

“Unless passengers have been vaccinated or have recovered, they must carry proof of a negative Covid test,” the spokesperson said.

The definition of ‘vaccinated’ is based on guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which currently states that two shots are needed for full inoculation with J&J, the spokesperson confirmed.

“We are still in constant contact with the federal and state ministries and authorities regarding Covid,” they said. “The authorities are constantly adapting the pandemic response to the current situation – also in the area of mobility. We follow and implement these regulations.”

Since November 24th, the so-called ‘3G’ rule has applied on public transport, meaning customers should carry proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test in order to travel. 

If customers don’t have at least one of these documents with them, they are generally asked to leave the train at the next station and can also be hit with fines. 

READ ALSO: Germany brings in nationwide ‘3G’ rules on public transport

‘A scandal’ 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has faced harsh criticism for the sudden rule-change, which was described by German newspaper Welt as a “scandal”. 

“By shifting the information online, hundreds of thousands of people were downgraded overnight to unvaccinated without their knowledge and de facto excluded from public life until they received their (second) vaccination,” wrote Welt commentator Benjamin Stibi. 

Question marks remain about how quickly the new rules will be implemented by the states in other areas of public life where access is restricted to people who are fully vaccinated or recovered.

This includes the majority of indoor public spaces, such as non-essential shops, cinemas and gyms. 

Meanwhile, in hospitality businesses like bars, cafes and restaurants, fully vaccinated people require a negative test or a booster jab for entry. 

This means that those who have had a second jab after Johnson & Johnson – a dose that was previously considered a booster – could now require a negative test to eat out or meet friends for drinks.

READ ALSO: How Germany’s 2G-plus Covid rules have left millions of people confused

The rule change is also likely to have an impact on people who work on-site, as a ‘3G’ rule (vaccination, recovery or test) applies in the workplace.

It could also impact people travelling into Germany with one dose of J&J who may no longer be seen as fully vaccinated. The Local has contacted the Health Ministry for clarification on this point and we’ll updated you when we receive an answer.

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany since the start of the pandemic.

The country is expecting a delivery of a further 18 million doses this year. 

Member comments

  1. I am confused about this: I received J&J in April then a booster in December and am not eligible for another booster until March. Also, I got COVID in January and have a recovery certificate. Does anyone know if I will be considered ok for 2g+ until March (aka I won’t need a negative test)? Thanks!

    1. You still may have a hard time explaining it to the inspector in a restaurant.
      But you are technically and legally boosted after your second vaccination. This is as per the latest change that is just coming in.

      Your booster status will go away again in February (90 days after the second shot), and you will have to get a third vaccination in order to retain it.

  2. I see some good news coming in for people vaccinated with J&J.

    I got J&J in June last year and the second vaccination on 2nd Jan. Up until yesterday, the second vaccination was just the `second vaccination` and was not considered a booster. So it only made you fully vaccinated and not boosted.
    So until yesterday I wouldn’t be considered 2G plus and would require a negative test for entry in a restaurant or bar.

    But today, the rules have changed. If you had your `second vaccination more than 14days ago and less than 90 days ago`, you will be on equal footing with a classical 3/3 series.

    But this privilege will go away after 90 days of the second vaccination, forcing to get a third jab to be considered boosted again.

    Still very complicated, but comes as a relief I would say.

    So yeah- Long story short . Even for J&J , if you got your second vaccination 14 days back, you will be considered boosted.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAVEL NEWS

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

With the EU changing its Covid recommendations for flights, there is some confusion around whether people boarding a plane in Germany will still need to wear a mask. Here's what we know so far.

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

As of Monday, the aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC no longer recommend mandatory Covid masks in airports and on planes.

However, if masks are compulsory at the point of departure or destination, this should continue to apply in aircraft as well, they say.

So, what does this mean for passengers boarding flights in Germany? At the moment, not very much at all. 

In Germany, the Infection Protection Act still stipulates that masks have to be worn on long-distance trains and planes. Masks are also compulsory on local public transport.

The previous weeks have seen Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) come out in favour of scrapping compulsory masks – especially on flights.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done to change the Infection Protection Act, which is due to expire on September 23rd. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

What are the current rules on flights? 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, masks are compulsory on all flights taking off or landing in Germany.

FFP2 or medical masks must be worn when boarding and disembarking and throughout the flight, though they can be removed when eating and drinking.

Children under the age of six are exempt from the mask-wearing requirement. 

The ministry has argued that the obligation to wear masks also complies with the new EU recommendations. 

What are the rules acros the EU? 

In general, the relaxed EU recommendation does not mean that masks are no longer compulsory on all flights. However, many countries have kept this measure in place as a simple way to reduce infection. 

Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, published a list of 14 EU countries in which national laws continue to require the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid.

Besides Germany, popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France are included on the list. 

In other EU countries, the airline said it would be dropping mandatory masks on flights, adding that it “welcomed” the relaxed recommendations from the EU health authorities.  

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

SHOW COMMENTS