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.
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.
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.
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.