The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said late on Tuesday that sweeping changes would be coming into force from Thursday.
“With the widespread occurrence of the Omicron variant, the probability of this variant to have a severe course is shown to be less compared to the previous prevalent variants,” said the RKI.
“Therefore, as of Thursday, March 3rd, 2022 at 0:00am, no states/regions will be considered as high-risk areas with the Third Amendment to the Coronavirus Entry Regulation coming into force.”
The RKI said the designation of a high-risk area will only be made for those regions “where there is a high incidence in terms of the spread of variants with higher virulence, compared to the Omicron variant”.
They said that means no countries will be classified as high risk as of March 3rd.
It will see around 60 countries wiped from the high risk list, including Austria, France, Greece, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The full list is available in English on the RKI’s website.
The move was originally planned for Friday.
What does this mean?
The move significantly relaxes rules for travelling.
When coming from a high risk region, unvaccinated travellers arriving in Germany have to quarantine for up to 10 days. They can take a Covid test five days into the quarantine at the earliest. If it is negative they can end the quarantine.
Now unvaccinated people will not have to quarantine.
The obligation for everyone to register online before entering Germany also no longer applies.
However, the German Health Ministry pointed out that the 3G rule, which means that people entering the country must either be fully vaccinated, recovered or tested against Covid-19, still applies. That means unvaccinated people have to carry evidence of a negative Covid test before arrival.
Under the new rules, the obligation to provide proof of Covid status will apply to people from the age of 12 instead of six.
According to the new regulation, families with children will also be granted relief in future, too.
Children aged 6-12 will be able to test immediately after returning from any future high-risk area to allow them to avoid having to quarantine.
Previously, all unvaccinated people over the age of six had to quarantine for up to 10 days, with the option to test for an early release on the fifth day of quarantine.
Children under the age of six will be exempted from the testing requirement, and will be automatically released from quarantine after five days.
Tougher rules will still apply if a country is classed as a ‘virus variant’ area in future.
“The designation of countries as virus variant areas will continue to be reserved for those areas where a new variant with very particular threatening characteristics emerges (e.g. if vaccination is not effective),” a Health Ministry spokesman told The Local.
It comes after Germany removed almost 40 countries from the high risk list on Sunday, including Italy, Poland and Sweden.
Since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in spring 2020, Germany has classified regions with different risk statuses.
Depending on the classification, different rules have applied.
There are also other travel restrictions in place for travellers. For instance, only vaccinated people are generally allowed to travel to Germany from non-EU countries unless that country is on the ‘safe list’, or they are a German resident.