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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Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

People in Germany have to isolate at home for at least five days if they test positive for Covid. But four states want to see a change to this rule.

Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

In a joint letter, the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, and Schleswig-Holstein called on Health Minister Karl Lauterbach to drop the isolation requirement for people who get a Covid infection in Germany. 

Baden-Württemberg health minister Manne Lucha, of the Greens, said there should be a move towards people taking personal responsibility rather than the state ordering an isolation period, reported the Tagesschau. 

“We should gradually get into the mode of treating a corona infection like any other infectious disease where the rule is: if you are sick, stay at home,” said the Green politician.

The rules on isolation differ slightly from state to state in Germany, but the general requirement is that people who test positive for Covid have to go into isolation at home and avoid all contact with people outside the household. The isolation period lasts at least five days or a maximum of 10 days.

In some states, and for hospital and care workers, a negative test is required to end the isolation period early.

Several politicians – as well as Andreas Gassen, chairman of the board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, have previously spoken out in favour of ending all Covid isolation and quarantine obligations.

READ ALSO: Should Germany get rid of Covid mandatory isolation?

The four German states called on Lauterbach, of the Social Democrats, to change the rules by October 10th.

In their letter, they refer to Austria, where the isolation obligation has been replaced by so-called “traffic restrictions” since August 1st.

Under these rules, people who get Covid-19 have to wear an FFP2 mask for 10 days in most places, and they are not allowed to visit nursing homes and clinics. They can, however, go to their workplace.

“The end of mandatory isolation has not led to any relevant increase in reported cases in Austria,” the four German health ministers said in their letter.

They argued that much of the population in Germany is immunised, either through vaccination or infection.

However, Lauterbach has so far rejected calls to get rid of the isolation requirement. He said that due to Covid cases rising, he didn’t want to “add fuel to the fire” and increase the risk of infections occurring in companies or at gatherings.

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU), said he was worried about lots of people having to take time off work to isolate at the same time, which could put pressure on critical infrastructure. 

Schleswig-Holstein’s health minister Kerstin von der Decken (CDU), said the adjustment of the isolation rules would be “a step on the way back to normality.”