Corona summit: Shorter quarantine rules and 2G+ in bars and restaurants
Germany’s federal and state governments have decided to introduce some new measures to combat the Omicron variant of coronavirus, including stricter rules to enter bars and restaurants. The required quarantine period will also be shortened, to help avoid mass worker shortages.
German government and states agree to new restrictions
After several hours of discussion, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Hendrik Wüst (state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia) and Franziska Giffey, the mayor of Berlin, emerged on Friday evening to announce the news everyone was expecting: stricter entry requirements will soon apply in restaurants, cafes and bars nationwide, quarantine and self-isolation periods will be shorter, and most other restrictions will remain in place.
"It's a strict rule," said Scholz, defending the decision. "But it's a necessary one that will help us better control infections than is currently the case."
What are Germany’s new coronavirus measures as of January 7, 2022?
Here’s an overview of the new rules that were announced at the press conference after the coronavirus summit on January 7, 2022.
Shorter quarantine / self-isolation periods for COVID infections and contact persons
As was widely anticipated, Germany has opted to follow in the footsteps of a number of other countries around the world and shorten quarantine and self-isolation periods for people who are infected with coronavirus or come into contact with a positive case. By shortening quarantine requirements, the idea is to minimise disruption caused by staff self-isolating in the healthcare system, emergency services and other key sectors.
The new rules are a little complicated, and make a distinction between “quarantine” - when someone is identified as a close contact of someone infected with coronavirus - and “isolation” - when someone has tested positive for the virus themselves.
In general, the quarantine / isolation period for both infected people and their contacts has been shortened to 10 days (down from 14 days). Then, the rules differ slightly for the general population versus key workers.
The following rules apply to the general population:
Both quarantine and isolation periods can be cut short with a negative “high-quality” rapid or PCR test on day 7.
Children can end their quarantine on day 5 with a negative test result; the isolation rules are the same as for adults.
The following rules apply for key workers (e.g. workers in hospitals and nursing homes):
Quarantine and isolation periods can be ended with a negative PCR test on day 7, provided the person has been symptom-free for 48 hours beforehand.
Some groups will be exempted from quarantining if they come into contact with a person infected with COVID. Contact persons who received a booster shot more than seven days ago, or “freshly” fully-vaccinated people who had their last jab between 14 days and two months ago, as well as recovered people who tested positive less than two months ago, will not have to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact - unless they test positive for the virus.
2G plus in restaurants, bars and cafes
Another new rule that was widely anticipated is the decision to impose 2G plus rules nationwide in restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes. This was already the case in several federal states, including Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, but now will apply across the board, regardless of the local incidence rate.
The change means that only individuals who are vaccinated or recovered - and can provide a negative rapid or PCR test result - will be admitted into hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and cafes.
People with a booster shot will be exempt from having to provide a negative test result.
Other rules to remain in place
A few other measures, which were decided upon at previous coronavirus summits, will remain in place for the time being. This includes:
- 2G rules in leisure and retail sectors
- FFP2 masks recommended in shops and on public transport
- Gatherings limited to 10 people (for vaccinated and recovered people) or own household plus two guests (if any unvaccinated people are present)
- Obligation to work from home wherever possible
- Nightclubs will remain closed “until further notice”
Next coronavirus summit
Scholz wrapped up the conference by thanking the German public for their ongoing support. The next coronavirus summit will be held in a few weeks’ time.