Germany’s restaurants and hotels open to the unvaccinated

Nightclubs in Germany were finally allowed to reopen Friday - and restaurants could allow unvaccinated people to enter.

Germany's restaurants and hotels open to the unvaccinated
A restaurant/bar owner in Augsburg changes the sign from 2G to 3G on Friday. Now unvaccinated people can visit these venues with a negative Covid test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

Germany entered the second step of its Covid relaxation plan on Friday, reopening restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels to unvaccinated people. 

They have been barred from entering many public places since December in response to tightened restrictions to clamp down on the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The 2G rule was brought in which meant only vaccinated and recovered people were allowed to enter these venues. 

From Friday March 4th, unvaccinated people can visit a restaurant or similar venue with a negative Covid test under the 3G rule.

Nightclubs and discos are also allowed to reopen their doors with the 2G-plus rule as of Friday.

That means vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to go dancing if they can present a negative test result or are boosted.

In Berlin, however, even people who’ve had their booster shot have to show a negative Covid test. 

READ ALSO: The German Covid rules changing this week

Capacity rules are also being eased on March 4th. Indoors up to 60 percent of the maximum capacity – with a maximum of 6,000 people – is allowed.

Outdoors a capacity of up to 75 percent (with a maximum of 25,000 people) will be permitted. This will apply to the likes of football matches and concerts.

On Friday Germany reported 217,593 Covid cases within the latest 24 hour period, and 291 deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 1,196.4 infections per 100,000 people. 

The new rules will apply for just over two weeks. On March 19th, the Infection Protection Act, which is currently the basis for the Covid restrictions, expires.

On March 20th most Covid rules will fall away and only some basic protection measures will remain. There’s no detail on what exactly they’ll be yet, but it is expected to include mandatory face masks in indoor public areas. 

The Free Democrats – partner in the governing coalition alongside the Social Democrats and Greens – are insisting that as few Covid rules as possible remain in force after March 20th.

Party leader and Finance Minister Christian Lindner said: “Our constitutional order applies and that means that the state only intervenes where it is really necessary, where there is really a danger. And we will discuss this together in detail: what is still necessary, what is not necessary.”

If the infection situation worsens significantly after March 20th, a fallback option will apply. Accordingly, the federal government will initiate a new law that provides for further Covid protection measures.

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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?