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COVID-19 RULES

Germany’s expert council signals support for relaxing Covid rules

The German government's Covid advisory council has signalled support for measures to be eased when the Omicron wave breaks.

A sign showing the 2G-plus rules in a restaurant in Düsseldorf.
A sign showing the 2G-plus rules in a restaurant in Düsseldorf. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

The council said Germany was in a “new phase of the pandemic” but warned warned of “uncertainties due to a still far too large immunity gap in the population” in its latest recommendations released on Sunday. 

However, experts said that steps to reopen public life should be expected.

“The number of SARS-CoV-2 infections has steadily increased so far, but a plateauing and subsequent decline for the Omicron (BA.1) wave is to be expected in the coming weeks,” the council said.

“A rollback of government infection control measures appears sensible once a stable decline in hospitalisation and intensive care admissions and occupancy is seen.”

Germany’s government and state leaders are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss the Covid situation – and a plan for easing measures is expected. 

READ ALSO: Germany to ease Covid restrictions after Omicron wave peaks 

What else does the Council of Experts say?

The council, which was set up to help guide German leaders on the Covid strategy, urged for a cautious approach to relaxing restrictions, particularly because of concerns over the sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2.

They said reopening public life too quickly could result in a “renewed increase in the burden of disease”. 

Germany has several tough measures in place aimed at slowing the spread of Covid, including barring unvaccinated people from most parts of public life (the 2G rule), and requiring vaccinated and recovered people to show proof of a negative test or a booster shot to access many places (2G-plus). There are also some closures in place, such as for clubs. 

Experts said removing Covid restrictions in Germany would mean more unvaccinated and older people, would be at risk of picking up an infection. 

The council said “these groups carry the highest risk for a severe course of the disease and must be protected”.

They said that people in Germany should continue to act cautiously and responsibly “with regard to infection protection”.

Experts urged for mandatory face masks in some public places to continue, but added: “If the number of infections is low enough, it (mask measure) can be temporarily lifted, but this should be accompanied by a clear communication on the time limit”.

The council also urged the government to take into account the different dynamics depending on the season. In autumn and winter, experts say wearing masks and regular testing for vulnerable groups will be needed. 

In their recommendation, the experts said that the testing strategy should be adapted in the coming months due to the “high economic and ecological burden”.

“In particular, it should be examined whether testing should be limited to symptomatic cases,” the council advised. “Early detection of significant changes in infection dynamics, e.g. via random surveillance, is elementary, especially in view of the coming autumn/winter.”

READ ALSO: German hospitals ‘won’t get overwhelmed in Omicron wave’

Vocabulary

Relaxations – (die) Lockerungen

Council of Experts/expert board – (der) Expertenrat

To recommend (something) – (etwas) empfehlen

Subsequent – nachfolgend

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Experts said removing Covid restrictions in Germany would mean more unvaccinated and older people, would be at risk of picking up an infection.

    The council said “these groups carry the highest risk for a severe course of the disease and must be protected”.

    They chose not to be protected. It’s their problem. Stop making a handful of people’s poor choices EVERYONE’s problem. Stop CHILD ABUSE! Let the kids take off their masks in school. They are tested 2 and 3 times a week for crying out loud.

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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: Germany’s planned changes to Covid vaccination status

From October, there will be changes to who is considered fully vaccinated in Germany. Here's what we know so far.

EXPLAINED: Germany's planned changes to Covid vaccination status

People in Germany have to pay close attention to their current vaccination status because of an important change coming up. 

From October 1st 2022, those who have not received their Covid booster vaccination will be considered unvaccinated. 

A spokesman from the German Health Ministry told The Local: “People who have a double vaccination will generally no longer be considered fully vaccinated from October 1st 2022, according to the innovations in infection protection.

“Accordingly, the EU Covid digital vaccination certificate will be shown as invalid for domestic use when checked with the CovPassCheck app.”

However, there are slightly different rules for entry into Germany. 

The Health Ministry spokesman said: “In the context of entry, according to European law, an EU digital Covid vaccination certificate will continue to be valid after October 1st 2022 for a double vaccination if no more than 270 days have passed since the last vaccination dose, or indefinitely for persons under 18.”

READ ALSO: EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

Note that in Germany, the recovered status is believed to offer a similar level of immunity to a vaccination. So people who have recovered from a Covid infection will only need two jabs to be considered “fully immunised” from October.

What are the different combinations?

Here’s a look at what applies now, and what the rules will be from October. 

Since March 19th 2022, the Infection Protection Act has specified the conditions that have to be met to be considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Germany.

Up until September 30th 2022, these scenarios count as complete vaccination protection:

– Three vaccination shots (basic immunisation plus booster)

– Two single vaccinations (two weeks must have passed after the last dose)

– One vaccination PLUS

a positive antibody test before the first vaccination OR

a PCR-proven SARS-CoV-2 infection before first vaccination OR

a SARS-CoV-2 infection detected by PCR test after first vaccination; 28 days must have passed since testing.

After October 1st 2022 you are fully vaccinated in Germany in these scenarios:

– After three vaccination shots (the last jab must have taken place at least three months after the second single vaccination),

– Two single vaccinations PLUS

a positive antibody test before the first vaccination OR

a PCR-proven SARS-CoV-2 infection before the second vaccination OR

a PCR-tested SARS-CoV-2 infection after the second vaccination (28 days must have elapsed since testing).

Vaccinations must have been administered with vaccines licensed by the European Union or vaccines approved abroad that have the same formula as one of the EU-approved vaccines. 

Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends that everyone over the age of 12 who has had two jabs should get a booster vaccination. Children aged 5 to 11 with pre-existing diseases should also receive a booster vaccination after basic immunisation, according to STIKO.

It is recommended in Germany that some people receive a fourth jab – or a second booster shot. However, currently this is only a recommendation for risk groups, such as the elderly. 

Why is this important to know?

At the moment there are very few Covid restrictions in place in Germany. However, it could be the case that tougher rules are brought in after summer if the infection situation worsens. 

That could mean that people would once more have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test (the so-called 3G rule) to enter public facilities, such as restaurants, bars or museums. 

If the situation gets worse, the government could also bring in the 2G rule, which means unvaccinated people are not allowed to enter.

READ ALSO: Germany lays out autumn Covid plan

Up until now 76.2 percent of the German population has had two shots, and 61.6 percent have been boosted. 

Up-to-date information on Covid-19 vaccines and the regulations around it is available on the Germany Health Ministry site (in German). Talk to your GP if you have any questions about Covid vaccines in Germany. 

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