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What's changing with Germany's COVID rules as of November 18?

What's changing with Germany's COVID rules as of November 18?

What's changing with Germany's COVID rules as of November 18?

Thursday was a busy day in the federal republic, as the Bundestag, the 16 federal states, and the incoming and outgoing chancellors came together to debate various new measures to combat coronavirus in Germany. Here’s a summary of the day’s events, and an overview of the new rules coming into effect. 

Bundestag passes new COVID measures: 3G in workplaces and on public transport

The first major decision of the day came at lunchtime on Thursday, when the Bundestag voted through a set of measures put together by the traffic light coalition, the parties likely to form Germany’s next government.

Alongside voting not to extend the so-called “epidemic situation of national concern", which gives the government special emergency powers and is due to expire on November 25, members of parliament gave the green light to a new set of measures, including:

  • 3G rules (vaccinated, recovered or tested) for workplaces, coupled with a direction for employees to work from home wherever possible
  • 3G rules on public transport, including buses, trams, trains, and aeroplanes, subject to random checks
  • Mandatory daily testing for employees and visitors of care homes, regardless of vaccination status
  • Harsher penalties for falsifying proof of vaccination and using false evidence
  • Special regulations on child sickness benefit to be extended to 2022

Coronavirus summit: Federal states opt for 2G with high hospitalisation rate

Later on Thursday, outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel met with executive chancellor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states to discuss the implementation of the above restrictions and possible further measures. 

After several hours of debate, the following extra measures were announced at a press conference on Thursday evening: 

2G rules nationwide

Some states, including Berlin, Bavaria and Saxony, have already forged ahead, but 2G rules are now to be introduced nationwide in Germany - depending on the hospitalisation rate in each state. From a value of 3 admitted to hospital per 100.000 people within seven days, access to certain indoor public places, including leisure, cultural and sporting facilities and events, close-contact services like hairdressers, and hotels, will be limited to people who are vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus.

This value has already been exceeded in most federal states, except for Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland.

All under 18-year-olds should be exempt from the regulation. 

2G plus option

If the hospitalisation rate exceeds 6 per day per 100.000 people, the 2G plus rule should come into effect, meaning that vaccinated or recovered people would also have to provide a negative test result to access some public spaces. This will primarily be used in indoor areas with a high risk of infection, for instance nightclubs and bars. 

Further measures in COVID hotspots

If the hospitalisation rate rises to 9 or more per 100.000, as is the case in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, states should also be able to make use of more stringent measures, including closing certain industries and events, and even imposing contact restrictions. 

Compulsory vaccinations for healthcare workers & Care bonus

The federal states also managed to push through a resolution calling for coronavirus vaccines to be made mandatory for healthcare and nursing professions, including staff at hospitals and nursing homes. They have justified this move on the basis that these employees come into close contact with vulnerable people. A corresponding law will have to be passed in the Bundestag. 

Nursing staff are also to receive a cash bonus, in recognition of the vital work they have done over the last year and a half. A bonus was already granted in 2020, up to 1.000 euros for hospital employees and 1.500 euros for nurses in old people's homes. 

Implementation left up to federal states

As usual, the federal states retain final power over implementing coronavirus regulations, and so rules could vary from place to place. Check with your local authority to make sure. 

Abi

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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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