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COVID-19 RULES

Masks and tests: The Covid rules that tourists in Germany should know

Thanks to culture, history and stunning nature, Germany is a dream destination for many. But with Covid-19 infections increasing, visitors to Germany should be aware of the current situation and rules.

Masks and tests: The Covid rules that tourists in Germany should know
Tourists outside the German Historical Museum in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

What’s the Covid situation in Germany right now?

Germany is seeing a steep rise in Covid infections at the moment due to the spread of two highly infectious Omicron subtypes: BA.4 and BA.5. As of Wednesday July 13th, the 7-day incidence of infections stood at 691.8 per 100,000 people.

Can I travel to Germany?

Yes. Germany has lifted most of its Covid entry restrictions which means that people can enter from almost all countries in the world for any reason, including tourism. 

READ ALSO:

Travellers over the age of 12 also no longer have to show evidence of vaccination, recovery from Covid or a negative test (known as the 3G rule). This requirement has been dropped until at least the end of August. 

There is also no need to fill in any online forms.

However, if a country is in future classed as a ‘virus variant’ region then stricter rules come into force. In these cases, non-essential travel is banned except for some exceptions such as for German citizens and residents. 

Those who can enter the country have to go into a 14-day quarantine on arrival, even if they have been vaccinated or have recovered. 

No country is a virus variant area currently. 

Travel rules could be reinstated after summer or if the Covid situation gets worse so keep an eye on any developments. 

Are there any Covid restrictions in Germany?

Although much of the rules have been relaxed in recent months, some restrictions remain in place. These include having to wear surgical face masks on public transport, like buses, trains and trams, as well as planes to and from Germany. Masks also have to be worn in places like doctor office waiting rooms. 

FFP2 masks have become the standard in Germany, but in some cases, other medical masks are sufficient. In Bavaria, for instance, people can wear a cheaper medical mask rather than an FFP2 mask on public transport. Cloth masks are generally not sufficient in Germany. 

Masks don’t have to be worn in places like shops and restaurants, however, some businesses might have their own rules requiring this.  People can also choose to wear masks voluntarily.

People bathe in the Isar river in Munich. Germany is a popular tourist destination.

People bathe in the Isar river in Munich. Germany is a popular tourist destination. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

Can I get tested?

Germany recently changed its testing restrictions. Taxpayer-funded rapid Covid-19 tests are no longer free of charge to everyone, however they are free to certain groups of people, including those who can’t get vaccinated against Covid for medical reasons as well as carers and people with disabilities. 

People have to show proof of their exception at test centres, which are dotted around German cities and towns. They usually have a sign outside them that reads: Covid tests, Bürgertests (citizen tests) or Schnelltests (rapid tests). Furthermore, people in Germany can pay a reduced fee of €3 for a test for private use, including for visits to family celebrations, concerts or another “indoor event”, such as the theatre. 

A €3 test can also be purchased by anyone who gets a red Covid warning on their Covid warning app, or who plans to meet someone over the age of 60 or people with a pre-existing illness or disability. You have to sign a declaration form if you’re getting a test for one of these reasons. 

READ ALSO: The new rules on getting a Covid test in Germany

You can also pay to get tested at a centre or test station. The cost of tests differ depending on the centre. You can also buy self-administered tests from a drugstore or supermarket. 

What do I do if I have Covid?

If you receive a positive Covid test result through a self-test, you should contact the non-emergency medical on-call service on 116 117 or the local health authorities where you are. They can advise on whether you should get another Covid test. 

If you have Covid symptoms you should also isolate and contact the health authorities or use the on-call number. They can arrange for a Covid-19 test. 

If at any point you are struggling to breathe or need emergency medical assistance, call 112 for an ambulance. 

Do I have to isolate if I get Covid?

Yes, Germany still has mandatory isolation rules in place. The rules on this differ from state to state, but there is one general requirement: those 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.

Some states may require you to take a test in order to end your quarantine or self-isolation early. In this case, you’re entitled to a free rapid test anytime after the fifth day. If the result is negative, you can end the self-isolation period. 

READ ALSO: The Covid rules across German states

Where can I self-isolate?

That will depend. You might be able to stay in your existing accommodation or have to transfer to a state hospital or other government-provided accommodation. Check with the local authorities.

You may need to fund accommodation, even if it just to extend your hotel stay.

What if I need treatment?

If you are an EU citizen, your country’s healthcare can cover state treatments. It’s similar if you are a UK citizen and hold an EHIC or GHIC. The e-card, European health card, EHIC or GHIC will not cover private treatments, though.

If you are a third-country citizen, you must check exactly what your travel insurance covers. In general, people travelling to Europe from abroad are recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical treatments, and you might also be insured through a credit or debit card. It’s worth checking and planning before you travel. 

Sites like Doctolib are handy for arranging doctor appointments in Germany. Your hotel will also be able to advise you of a nearby Hausarzt (GP), or you can search online. 

The German government has set up this page in English with information for travellers. It includes links to the 16 federal states so you can find information on the state you are in or travelling to.

Member comments

  1. The articles on this site have really been informative, well-researched, and often quite unique. This really helps me avoid hours of research on policies, rules, events, or worse missing something I would not have otherwise not stumbled across. Keep up the great work, thank you.

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COVID-19 RULES

Could Germany see a ‘patchwork’ of rules with new Covid plan?

Germany has put together a plan to tackle the spread of Covid from October until spring next year. But while some proposals have been welcomed, there are fears it could result in a patchwork of rules around the country.

Could Germany see a 'patchwork' of rules with new Covid plan?

Masks will remain mandatory in some places, but states will have the power to take tougher Covid measures, under proposals from the German Health and Justice Ministries for getting through the autumn and winter.

On Wednesday, the coalition pledged a graduated plan under the new Infection Protection Act, which will be in force from October 1st until April 7th next year. 

It envisages mandatory masks in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to introduce further measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport, like buses and trams. 

Under the plans, there is also the option of making restrictions even tougher if the situation becomes critical. But lockdowns and school closures have been ruled out. 

READ ALSO Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

The proposals have been met with a divided response so far, with experts calling for more clarity. 

The German Medical Association called for uniform measures throughout the country if hospitals or critical services get overloaded, rather than different regulations in states. 

“It’s important that in future, uniform measures are taken throughout Germany if certain clearly defined criteria are met,” Klaus Reinhardt, President of the Medical Association, told the Funke Mediengruppe on Thursday.

He said the plans for autumn and winter “unfortunately still remain vague”.

The German Hospital Association said it wasn’t clear when the health system would be classed as being overburdened.

“It’s not apparent how the data situation will be seriously improved,” said the chairman of the board, Gerald Gaß.

However, Reinhardt said he was pleased that the plans had “finally been formulated with consideration for our children”.

The German Teachers’ Association said it was important that states would be able to impose mandatory masks on older pupils if they need to, but questioned why masks couldn’t also be introduced in younger children.

Under the proposals, only pupils from the fifth school year onwards can be asked to wear a mask if the Covid situation worsens.

Teachers’ representatives also raised concerns about Germany turning into a “patchwork quilt” due to regions being able to take different measures.

Meanwhile, the German Association of Cities said there were still a lot of unanswered questions, including whether free Covid tests would return. The government recently restricted free Covid testing because they said it was too expensive. 

“Will the free Bürgertests for all be introduced again in autumn? What will happen with the facility-based compulsory vaccination? We expect answers from the federal government on this very soon,” said chief executive Helmut Dedy.

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