2G in shops and contact restrictions: Germany adopts tougher COVID rules
State and federal leaders have agreed to a new batch of measures designed to tackle coronavirus in Germany, including 2G rules in non-essential shops, and extra contact restrictions for unvaccinated people.
What was announced at the COVID press conference on December 2?
A week earlier than planned, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on Thursday to thrash out a new plan to curb the country’s fourth wave of coronavirus.
As expected, rather than forcing the whole country back into lockdown, the leaders mostly opted for additional restrictions for unvaccinated people only. As well as certain professions facing a vaccination mandate, people who have not yet received the jab or recovered from the virus will encounter a whole raft of new restrictions. Here’s an overview of what was announced at the press conference on Thursday, December 2.
Compulsory COVID vaccinations
The ministers reconfirmed their commitment to making vaccines compulsory for employees working in hospitals and nursing homes, to help protect elderly and vulnerable people. This regulation should come into force relatively quickly.
The proposal of a general vaccination mandate - which would require everyone in the country to get the jab - will be put to the Bundestag. It’s not likely to apply before February 2022.
Angela Merkel also said that having two vaccinations would not "permanently" be recognised as a full vaccination. The EU is currently discussing the possibility of the vaccine losing its validity after nine months.
2G rules in shops, restaurants, museums and cinemas
The 2G rule, which is already in force in some federal states, is being expanded nationwide and will apply regardless of the incidence rate. It will now not only apply to cultural and leisure facilities, but shops also.
Shops will not be forced to close in the run-up to the Christmas holidays, but non-essential stores will now be required to operate 2G entry policies for all customers, meaning they will be off-limits to anyone who is not vaccinated against coronavirus or hasn’t recovered from the disease. This does not include essential shops like supermarkets, pharmacies and drugstores.
The same 2G rules apply to cinemas, theatres and restaurants. Christmas markets will also have to take place under 2G conditions, with an option to upgrade to 2G plus. 2G plus should also generally apply to carnival events.
Contact restrictions for unvaccinated people
Private gatherings of people who have not been vaccinated or recovered will now be limited to the members of a single household and a maximum of two people from another household. Children under the age of 14 and vaccinated or recovered people do not count towards this maximum limit. There is no limit on the number of vaccinated and recovered people who can gather together in private.
New restrictions for events
Organisers of events in Germany will now also have to contend with additional restrictions. In future, a maximum capacity limit of 30 to 50 percent will apply to indoor events, or a maximum of 5.000 spectators. The capacity rule will also apply to outdoor events, such as football games, with up to 15.000 spectators allowed. 2G rules must be in place, with the option of organisers also requiring a negative test result.
A few additional measures were also agreed upon:
- Masks will once again be mandatory in primary and secondary schools.
- In hotspot regions with an incidence rate above 350 per 100.000, bars and nightclubs will be forced to close.
- A new crisis team will coordinate vaccinations and vaccine distribution, to try to get 30 million jabs in arms by Christmas.
- As well as doctors, pharmacists and dentists will in future be allowed to administer coronavirus vaccines.
- The sale of firecrackers and fireworkers on New Year's Eve will be banned, to support the emergency services and prevent large crowds from gathering.