Berlin lifts almost all Covid rules: What you need to know

For the first time in nearly two years, people in Berlin will not have to wear face masks in many shops, and other restrictions have been lifted. Here's a look at what's changed in the capital.

A face mask lies on the ground at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.
A face mask lies on the ground at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

For some people it’s ‘freedom day’, and for others it’s reckless. 

But regardless of what you think, the powers that be have spoken: several Covid-19 measures have been relaxed in Germany’s Hauptstadt Berlin as of Friday April 1st. 

What’s changed?

From this date, masks are no longer compulsory in shops, museums, restaurants or schools – unless the business or facilities issues their own mask rules.

Furthermore, the Covid entry pass system – known as 3G in Germany – is no longer in place. That means people don’t have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test to visit most public places. 

“Cinemas, concert halls, theatres, opera houses and other cultural venues may open without any restrictions,” said the Berlin Senate. “The same applies to museums, clubs and recreational facilities.”

Religious events, gyms, hairdressers and similar services also don’t need to have Covid restrictions in place (although some may choose to).

According to a decision by the Senate, however, Berliners must stick to some basic protective measures. These include, the compulsory wearing of FFP2 masks in buses, trains and trams as well as in doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, day clinics and nursing homes.

Children aged between 6 and 13 can wear a medical mask instead of an FFP2 mask in these places.

READ ALSO: What are Germany’s new Covid mask rules?

Meanwhile, people in Berlin will still need to buy a ticket ahead of time for a certain time slot to go swimming but the 3G Covid entry rule is no longer in place. 

Are masks really gone in most places?

Officially they are not mandatory, unless it’s an exception like public transport. But a number of Berlin cultural institutions, among others, have already said they will stick to the mask requirement. These include the city’s three opera houses, the Deutsches Theater, the Schaubühne, the Berliner Ensemble and the Humboldt Forum.

Within the framework of so-called ‘house rights’, it is possible that businesses and cultural facilities continue to enforce the compulsory wearing of masks.

What about quarantine?

Berlin says that the previous rules for isolating after a positive Covid test also still apply. This also applies to those who have been classified as close contacts by the health department and have not been vaccinated or have recovered recently.

“However, relaxations are also in sight for the quarantine regulations,” said the Senate.

READ ALSO: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Germany?

Why is this happening?

Berlin is adopting the requirements of the federal Infection Protection Act, which was voted in a couple of weeks ago.

Germany was set to relax measures on March 20th, but states used a transition period to extend the rules by around two weeks. Berlin is dropping its restrictions on April 1st, while other states follow in the coming days. 

At least two states – Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg – have declared themselves a Covid hotspot and the tougher rules will continue. 

Covid tests in schools 

Covid tests are still mandatory three times a week in Berlin’s schools for now. The rule has been extended to include vaccinated and recovered people at the suggestion of the education administration – whether pupils, teachers or other employees.

In neighbouring Brandenburg, most Covid rules will be dropped as of Sunday, April 3rd. In addition to the mask requirement in schools, the mask requirement in retail outlets and 3G in restaurants, theatres and cinemas and 2G in clubs will be dropped.

Member comments

  1. So you don’t need 3G to go work but kids have to be tested. This just makes soo much sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they are finally letting it go. No where near fast enough though and still too many restrictions remain.

    And none of it makes sense. Now companies are allowed to discriminate?
    Masks only.
    Whites only.

    I can feel the inclusiveness already.

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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?