What's changing with Germany's COVID rules from April 2?
Almost all COVID-related restrictions were due to be scrapped in Germany on March 20. Now, after a two-week transitional phase, they are finally being ditched, but in their wake, they are leaving a whole lot of confusion. For anyone wondering what the rules are now in their local area, here’s an overview of what’s happening.
What applies nationwide in Germany from April 2?
It’s going to get confusing once again. From April 2, all nationwide coronavirus regulations, - including 3G, 2G and 2G plus rules, contact restrictions and some mask requirements - are set to be abolished and be replaced by some “basic protective measures” like testing and mask rules in hospitals and retirement homes, and mask requirements on planes, buses and trains, at airports and at stations.
However, the federal government has left the state governments with the option of implementing the so-called “hotspot regulation” - in areas where cases of coronavirus remain high - to keep certain measures in place, including mask requirements, social distancing and 2G and 3G rules.
With some federal states implementing these hotspot measures across the board, others arguing over the details, and others eschewing them entirely, it’s starting to look pretty complicated. Here’s a breakdown of what each state is planning in regard to COVID rules.
This week, the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg determined that it was not possible to implement the hotspot rule statewide. Instead, it will use the government’s basic protective measures from April 2, including mask requirements on public transport, in doctors’ offices and hospitals, and testing in schools and childcare facilities. All other measures will be dropped.
In Bavaria, the most far-reaching coronavirus measures are also being scrapped, with only the government’s basic protective measures being enforced. FFP2 masks will still be required on public transport and in medical settings (but not in shops), and testing will continue in schools and childcare until the Easter school holidays.
As of April 1, Berlin has already relaxed most coronavirus restrictions. The only exception is that a mask is still required when shopping, on public transport, at the doctors, and in hospitals and care facilities. Schools and daycare facilities will continue testing.
Brandenburg is moving to the basic protective rules only from April 3.
From April 2, only basic protective measures will be in place in Bremen.
The city-state of Hamburg has designated itself a hotspot area and so will keep some stricter coronavirus measures in place for the time being. This includes masks in public places and 2G plus rules in nightclubs.
Hesse is taking a more relaxed approach and will only enforce basic protective measures from April 2.
Restrictions are on their way out in Lower Saxony, where 3G rules in restaurants, hotels and cultural institutions will no longer apply from April 3. The obligation to wear a mask and get tested will only apply in some places, like medical settings and schools.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was the first German state to declare itself a hotspot region in its entirety. Basic protection measures like masks and testing will continue to apply for the time being, as will the previous 2G and 3G rules.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, the state government was unable to push through a motion to extend the coronavirus measures for an extra four weeks, and so, most protective measures will be scrapped this weekend. Only basic protective measures will apply from April 2.
Rhineland-Palatine will also scrap the most far-reaching coronavirus measures on April 3, with only basic protective measures remaining in place. Masks are, however, encouraged to help curb the spread of coronavirus and other diseases.
Saarland is also ending all but basic measures in the state from April 2.
In Saxony, most restrictions will be lifted on April 3, with the exception of some mask-wearing rules.
The same is true in Saxony-Anhalt: apart from basic protective measures, all restrictions will be lifted on April 3.
Schleswig-Holstein is also taking the route of abandoning all but basic protective measures from April 3.
A move to extend protective measures in Thuringia failed in the state parliament, and so only basic protective measures will apply in the eastern state from April 2.
How long will the new rules apply?
The current legislation has the basic protective measures remaining in force until September 23. If the coronavirus situation worsens, the law could be changed. It’s also possible that individual states will begin to implement their own hotspot regulations - and individual shops and restaurants are free to, for example, require customers to wear a mask - so it’s a good idea to always check the rules ahead of time, to make sure you’re not caught out.