German Health Ministry lays out COVID strategy for autumn and winter

German Health Ministry lays out COVID strategy for autumn and winter

Germany’s Ministry of Health has drawn up a series of proposals detailing how it will handle the coronavirus pandemic through the autumn and winter. Although another strict lockdown seems unlikely, some measures will undoubtedly prove controversial. 

Germany’s new coronavirus plan

The Federal Ministry of Health has set out its vision for the coming months in a report, sent to the federal states and the Bundestag, and obtained by the DPA and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Under the title “Safe through the autumn and winter - start preparing now,” the report recommends that a number of strict rules remain in place to keep the Delta variant of COVID-19 in check from September onwards. 

Looking ahead to the colder autumn and winter months, the health ministers suggest that restrictions will continue to be necessary “to protect the health system from excessive strain and to shield the groups of people who cannot yet be vaccinated from a potentially serious illness.” 

However, the success of Germany’s vaccination campaign means that strict lockdowns like those imposed in the spring and winter of 2020 “will in all probability no longer be necessary.” At the same time, the paper does suggest that unvaccinated people should be excluded from many areas of public life if the number of infections increases. Here’s a brief overview of the paper’s proposals: 

Masks remain compulsory until spring

The ministry firstly recommends that, until spring 2022, medical masks should continue to be worn wherever people with an “unclear vaccination status” meet in indoor spaces. Masks should also continue to be required on public transport and in shops, for vaccinated, recovered and unvaccinated people. 

No more free COVID tests

Since vaccinations are now offered, for free, to all adults, the ministry is looking to cut costs by doing away with the offer of free tests. The paper proposes to end free testing by mid-October for most people. Free rapid tests would still be offered to people who cannot be vaccinated or are not recommended to do so, for instance, women who are pregnant or children under the age of 18. 

Quarantine rules

The ministry believes that it is still necessary to order infected people and their contacts to self-isolate, but that those who have been vaccinated or have recovered should remain exempt from these rules. 

Shops, restaurants, sports and events

With coronavirus incidence rates remaining low in many areas of the country, public life has once again been opening up, to a greater or lesser extent. However, the ministry suggests that should soon change, so that only those who have been vaccinated or recovered, or those who can demonstrate a negative test result, will be able to access areas like indoor dining areas at restaurants, hotel accommodation, close-contact services (such as hairdressers and beauty salons), indoor sports, indoor events, and large outdoor events. 

This is being referred to as the “3G rule” (geimpft, genesen, getestet / vaccinated, recovered, tested). 

Restrictions for unvaccinated

The ministry is also still considering the idea of imposing restrictions on unvaccinated people, should infections and hospitalisations continue to rise. This is being referred to as implementing the “2G rule” - as in, only vaccinated (geimpft) or recovered (genesen) people would be permitted from attending certain areas like hotels, restaurants, hairdressers or large public events, with unvaccinated people excluded. 

Schools and daycare centres

It is expected that, once the school holidays end and children return to regular lessons, outbreaks in daycare and primary and secondary schools are almost inevitable. Test, ventilation and hygiene concepts will need to be implemented nationwide, the ministry states, with responsibility given to the federal states. 

When will we know more?

The proposals will be discussed and either adopted or amended at the next coronavirus summit between Angela Merkel and the state premiers, which is scheduled for August 10. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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