The coronavirus incidence rate in Germany reached a record high on Tuesday, November 23, for the 16th day in a row. Several federal states have started to tighten their rules, which, among other things, is forcing many famous Christmas markets to be canceled.
Which COVID restrictions apply in Germany’s federal states?
Germany is firmly in the grip of a spiraling fourth coronavirus wave. On Tuesday, the nationwide seven-day incidence rate rose to another new high of 399.8, up from 386.5 on Monday and 312.4 last week. New highs have been recorded every day since November 8, when the incidence was 197.6. Currently the rate is doubling every two weeks.
At the coronavirus summit on November 18, the federal and state governments agreed to gradually tighten the restrictions on the hospitalization rate per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.
From a tariff of 3, 2G rules should apply nationwide. From a tariff of 6, 2G plus rules apply, i.e. access to certain public places is only permitted to vaccinated or recovered people who can also show a negative test result. On Monday, the Robert Koch Institute gave this nationwide hospital admission rate to 5.28.
However, the statistics do not completely show a quite mixed picture across Germany: Several federal states report a number of cases well above the national average – especially in the south and east of the country – while others report below-average infection rates.
Some prime ministers are reacting with tougher measures that are likely to affect the unvaccinated in particular, while others are more relaxed. This slowly creates a patchwork of different rules. Here is a brief overview of what is happening where.
In Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg, 2G rules have been in effect since last week, which effectively exclude unvaccinated people from indoor areas of restaurants, non-essential shops, cinemas, theaters, galleries, swimming pools and nightclubs. Exceptions apply to children and people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, for example.
Contact restrictions also apply to unvaccinated people who are not allowed to meet more than five people at the same time. Children under the age of 17, people who have been vaccinated and who have recovered, and people who cannot be vaccinated are not included in this number.
The state government is now planning a new “warning level” based on the number of intensive care patients and the hospitalization rate. If this value is exceeded, 2G plus rules apply in various areas – including hairdressers, bars, clubs and Christmas markets – which are only accessible to vaccinated or convalescent people with a negative test. In light of these new restrictions, some of the country’s famous Christmas markets, including those in Stuttgart, Esslingen and Ludwigsburg, were canceled at the last minute.
Bavaria announced last week that it would cancel all Christmas markets in the state as part of tightening coronavirus restrictions. Unvaccinated people are only allowed to meet a maximum of five people from two different households.
With the exception of retail, 2G rules now apply everywhere. Theaters, concert halls, sports stadiums and trade fairs are limited to an occupancy rate of 25 percent and must use 2G Plus entry guidelines, while clubs, discos, bars, pubs and brothels are closed for three weeks. Restaurants can stay open until 10 p.m.
A lockdown has been ordered in counties with a seven-day incidence rate above 1,000 per 100,000 population.
2G rules have been in effect in Berlin since last week – that is, only vaccinated and recovered people have access to restaurants, cinemas, theaters, museums, galleries, concert halls, sports facilities, arcades, hairdressing and beauty salons and fitness studios. This does not apply to children under the age of six, while adolescents between the ages of six and 18 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons may present a negative test result.
From Saturday, the 2G rules will also apply in shops, hotels and driving schools, with exceptions for important retailers such as supermarkets, drug stores and pharmacies.
Ministers are also considering tightening the rules to bring 2G plus into effect – even requiring vaccinated and recovered individuals to test negative. If passed, this could come into effect next weekend.
The Berlin area of â€‹â€‹Brandenburg is also tightening its dealings with unvaccinated people by allowing the 2G rules to apply nationwide in restaurants, theaters, concert halls, cinemas, casinos, hotels, city tours and boat trips. Children under the age of 18 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons may present a negative test result.
The state government extends the 2G rules from Wednesday to the retail trade – without essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies. All Christmas markets in the state have been canceled. The 2G plus rule applies to clubs and festivals.
In certain COVID hotspots, unvaccinated people are subject to a night curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Night clubs are not allowed to open in these regions.
In Germany’s smallest federal state, Bremen – which also has the highest vaccination rate in the state – the situation is much less tense. In fact, the coronavirus warning level has dropped to the lowest level of 0, so even indoor 3G rules no longer apply. Restaurants, theaters, clubs and sports facilities may apply the 3G and 2G rules at their own discretion.
In Bremerhaven, 3G rules apply indoors.
Hamburg has extended its 2G regulation for Saturday so that only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter certain public spaces such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, beauty salons and indoor sports facilities. From next Monday, the rule will also apply to theaters, cinemas, leisure facilities and hotels.
“Important” close-contact services such as hairdressers, podiatrists and medical treatments are still available under 3G conditions, which means that unvaccinated people can present a negative coronavirus test.
In Hesse, the rules are to be tightened from the middle of next week so that access to indoor areas of restaurants, sports facilities or cultural and leisure facilities is only possible for people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from the coronavirus.
The mask requirement is also expected to be tightened, so that it will be mandatory in schools, universities, hotels, cinemas and theaters. In night clubs, night owls need a certificate of vaccination or recovery and a negative test result.
Lower Saxony is also transitioning across the board to 2G rules for events, leisure, cultural, gastronomic and sports facilities. This also includes outdoor Christmas markets. Even with existing 2G rules, masks must be warned as an additional protective measure.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has been using a so-called 2G option model for some time, which enables restaurants, bars and events to opt for 2G rules, in return for the waiver of protective measures such as masks or distance regulations.
In some cities and districts with a higher coronavirus warning level, however, 2G rules have become mandatory. Exceptions apply to children under 12 years of age.
3G rules currently apply nationwide in North Rhine-Westphalia, but from next Wednesday 2G rules will be introduced across the board for the leisure and cultural sector. In areas with a particularly high risk of infection – such as night clubs or carnival celebrations – a 2G plus obligation applies, with the exception of minors and those without a vaccination recommendation.
With a few exceptions, Rhineland-Palatinate is preparing to apply the 2G rules nationwide from this Wednesday. 3G rules apply to young people between the ages of 12 and 17. According to the guidelines of the federal government, 2G rules should apply from a hospitalization rate of 3, while 2G plus starts from a rate of 6.
From Saturday, the 2G rules will generally apply indoors in Saarland, including in restaurants. The 2G plus rule applies in night clubs. Masks are again required in schools.
Saxony, one of the Corona hotspots in Germany, recently issued a whole series of stricter regulations. Apart from the libraries, all cultural and leisure facilities, including bars and nightclubs, will close. The same goes for Christmas markets. Restaurants are only allowed to stay open until 8 p.m. and with 2G rules. Large events, festivals and trade fairs are prohibited, as are tourist train and bus journeys.
In hotspot regions where the incidence rate is over 1,000 new infections per 100,000 people, there is a curfew for unvaccinated people from 10 p.m. Schools and daycare centers will remain open, but will be forced into restricted regular operations up to and including the Christmas holidays.
There are no restrictions on vital businesses like supermarkets, pharmacies, and drug stores, but other retail businesses must apply a 2G entry policy. Hairdressers have to do the same while all other contact-related services remain closed.
Saxony-Anhalt is also switching from 3G to 2G. As of Wednesday, all indoor areas are only open to vaccinated and recovered people, with a few exceptions for sporting and cultural activities. Children up to the age of 18 and people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons are exempt from this obligation. The 2G plus rule applies in night clubs, while Christmas markets remain open according to the 3G rules.
As of Monday, only vaccinated and recovered people will have access to indoor areas in restaurants and leisure facilities in Schleswig-Holstein. Christmas markets and other major events remain possible for the time being.
Thuringia – another COVID hotspot – is looking for an example in its neighbor Saxony. The cabinet had decided to close bars, nightclubs, swimming pools, saunas and spas, to close Christmas markets and to apply a curfew at 10 p.m. to restaurants.
There is now a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for unvaccinated people. You will also be excluded from many areas of public life, as the 2G rules will largely come into effect from Wednesday, even for non-essential business. From now on, the 2G plus applies in fitness studios.
Check the latest rules
Although we try to keep this page up to date, it moves quickly in view of the dynamic infection situation. Find out about the latest rules and requirements in your area.