Germany shortens COVID isolation to 5 days: What you need to know

Germany shortens COVID isolation to 5 days: What you need to know

In future, anybody who tests positive for COVID-19 in Germany will only be asked to self-isolate for five days, according to new advice published this week by the Health Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute. Here’s what you need to know. 

What are the new COVID isolation rules in Germany?

According to the RKI and Health Ministry’s new isolation and quarantine recommendations, which were updated on Monday, people who test positive for coronavirus in the future will be required to quarantine for five days. On the fifth day, it is recommended that you take a self-test and continue to isolate until you get a negative result, but this will not be legally required. 

Many federal states will also likely require people to be symptom-free for at least 48 hours before leaving isolation. It’s a good idea to check the rules in your local area to make sure you comply. 

The rules are slightly different for people who work in jobs that put them into contact with potentially vulnerable people - for example in hospitals, care homes, outpatient facilities and similar settings. People belonging to this group will need to be symptom-free 48 hours before leaving self-isolation, and need to get a negative test on day five at the earliest. This needs to be carried out by a testing centre or a doctor; a self-test is not sufficient. 

What are the rules for close contacts?

Up until now, only unvaccinated people have been required to self-isolate if they come into close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus. Now, however, that is set to change, as all contacts have been released from mandatory quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. 

However, the RKI and the Ministry of Health have recommended that all close contacts - for instance if someone in your family or household, at work or at school tests positive for the virus - “reduce contacts independently” and administer daily self-tests. People who work in the above-mentioned professions will need to test daily before being allowed to return to work. 

When do the new rules come into effect?

As the government’s recent U-turn on quarantine policy made clear, self-isolation rules are up to the individual federal states to enforce. Some, including Bavaria and Saxony, have already moved ahead and implemented new guidelines. Others will likely follow in the coming days and weeks. Keep an eye out for updates in your local area. 

Governments dismisses calls for quarantine to be scrapped

“[The new rules] are an expression of our scientific assessment that coronavirus remains dangerous, but that after an infection with the Omicron variant, the incubation period and the course of the disease is shorter,” Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said at a press conference in Berlin

He added that people were being asked to carry on isolating in the case of infection because coronavirus can still in certain cases be a life-threatening illness and therefore cannot be compared to a cold or the flu. 



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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