“Protective measures for those tested positive will take the place of mandatory isolation,” said Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) on Tuesday.
A mask-wearing obligation and entry bans, for example in medical and nursing facilities, will still be required for anyone infected who tests positive for Covid-19 from Wednesday.
In neighboring Baden-Württemberg, infected people will also be required to wear masks outside their own homes for five days, the Ministry of Health in Stuttgart announced on Tuesday.
“Basically, if you are sick and have symptoms, you should also stay at home and take sick leave, just as before,” said Baden-Württemberg Health Minister Manne Lucha of the Greens.
Holetschek defended the decision to lift the isolation requirement, saying that the new protective measures were made in consultation with experts.
“What is clear is that we are not giving the pandemic free rein,” he said, adding that the new regulations are a balance between personal responsibility and the protection of vulnerable groups of people.
The German Patient Protection Foundation, however, criticised the regulations as “contradictory” and “chaotic,” questioning how they would be effectively enforced.
Representatives of the Bavarian teachers’ associations called for clear and enforceable rules, as well as a clear definition of what “sick” or “contagious” meant.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in Munich had previously announced that, “anyone who is sick does not go to school.”
The Bavarian Economic Advisory Council, on the other hand, called the end of the isolation requirement “the right step at the right time.”
The two southern states, as well as Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, had announced that they would be repealing the isolation requirement last week.
Hesse left the exact date of the rule change open. In Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, which has also announced it will end a mask wearing requirement on public transportation as of January, the isolation requirement is expected to be lifted on Thursday.
As of Wednesday, Bavaria had a 7-day-incidence of 140 cases per 100,000 people, while Baden-Württemberg had a 7-day-incidence of 157, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Germany-wide, the weekly incidence stands at 204.