2G option: Hamburg businesses can let in only vaccinated or recovered people
Hamburg has become the first federal state in Germany to introduce a so-called “2G option model” which allows individual businesses to let in only people who are vaccinated against or have recovered from COVID-19.
Hamburg restaurants, theatres and cinemas can opt for 2G rules
As of Saturday, August 28, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and events in the Hanseatic city will have the opportunity to permit entry to vaccinated and recovered people only - making it the first and so far only German state to introduce a 2G option, on top of the 3G rules in place nationwide.
The city’s senate decided on Tuesday that business operators should be given the choice to make their services exclusively available for vaccinated and recovered people, and in return be exempted from certain coronavirus protection requirements. For instance, establishments that choose to implement the 2G rule will be allowed to let in more guests, or offer a free choice of seats without mandatory distance requirements. However, masks will still be required indoors.
The option is aimed at theatres, cinemas, nightclubs, trade fair operators, restaurants, hotels, swimming pools and gyms, among others. Organisers of sporting events, festivals and educational courses should also be able to take advantage of the offer - but no one is obliged to use it.
Children will be exempt from new rules
Establishments in Hamburg will be required to make sure that guests have either recovered or been vaccinated, and will face high fines if they do not carry out the necessary checks. They will also have to ensure that all of their public-facing workers are either vaccinated or recovered.
The new rules do not apply to children and young people under the age of 18, who can take part in “2G events” even if they are not vaccinated or recovered. For 12 to 18-year-olds, who according to the recently-changed recommendation should also get themselves immunised, this special exemption will expire in six weeks.
Hamburg’s mayor, Peter Tschentscher, justified the introduction of the 2G option by pointing to the differences in the infection dynamics between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. He said that vaccinated and recovered people played “no significant part” in the infection process, and that legal restrictions should therefore not be maintained for them.
Mixed reaction from businesses in Hamburg
The reaction from businesses in Hamburg was mixed. Constanze Lay, from a local association of landlords, told NDR that many businesses would have no other choice but to switch: “It is economically compulsory to choose 2G,” she said, adding that only then could they start making enough money again.
The head of the Block Restaurant Group, Stephan von Bülow, took a different perspective. He said that at the moment only around 60 percent of his guests are vaccinated, meaning that 40 percent would be shut out with the 2G rule.
Other restaurateurs are pointing out that the vaccination requirement for staff would exacerbate the acute shortage of workers they are already experiencing. “We have a big problem with attracting employees,” said Jens Stacklies, vice president of the industry association Dehoga. “Now we have to find employees who are vaccinated.”
The 2G model will be officially launched on Saturday, August 28, when a corresponding change in the law will come into force. Businesses can then register to take part in the scheme. Those that do join will have to clearly state at the entrance that they are operating under the 2G rule.