Travel to Germany: latest Covid guidance as the country finally scraps masks and vaccine passes

Germany’s version of Freedom Day on March 20 came and went with little fanfare – and little change to regulations.  

Unfortunately, the chosen date – which marked the end of the legal basis for Covid measures – coincided with a massive spike in cases. With many states uneasy about lifting restrictions, a two-week transition period provided a bit more time and saw the status quo remain. But now it’s crunch time.  

From the start of April, major changes are planned for public life. Masks will no longer be required by law in restaurants, bars, shops and other public places (although individual businesses can still ask customers to wear them) and the 2G/3G entry rules will no longer apply. 

At present, several details at the federal level still need to be ironed out, but some differences are emerging. According to the new Infection Protection Act, areas can keep or reintroduce measures if they declare themselves a “hotspot”. Both Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg have already done this. 

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, different states may introduce different variations of the rules at different times, meaning it is always advisable to keep an eye on the latest updates for the region you plan to visit before you travel.

Can I visit Germany?

Yes, but you must be vaccinated. Travellers from the UK to Germany who are not fully vaccinated may not currently enter Germany unless they are a German citizen; the spouse/partner/child under 18 of a German citizen; a resident of Germany; the spouse/partner/child under 18 of a resident of Germany; serve in an important role; or have an urgent need to travel.

Children between 0 to 5 years old and unvaccinated 6 to 11 year olds may enter if accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent. All permitted unvaccinated or unrecovered travellers aged 12 or over from the UK arriving in Germany need a negative Covid-19 test result. 

Do I need to wear a mask?

Medical masks, and sometimes specific FFP2 masks, have been mandatory in most indoor settings for a long time, but requirements could now change drastically. 

From the start of April, mask wearing will only be mandatory on public transport and in places where you might encounter vulnerable people. But be aware that individual businesses can still require you to wear one. It is also likely that some locals may continue to wear them as they have become very normal over the past two years. 

As the exact timing and details of the rules may vary between regions, be sure to check the latest updates and timeframes in your destination before you travel. Should the place you are travelling to declare themselves a hotspot, mask wearing in public spaces is likely to be mandatory.

What are the rules in bars and restaurants?

Over the past few weeks, entry requirements have relaxed in the gastronomic sector, with many states switching from the 2G entry rule (vaccinated or recovered people only) to the 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested). From the start of April, these rules are set to be dropped altogether. Masks will also no longer be required when walking around – unless specified by the owner. 

As the exact timing and details of the rules may vary between regions, be sure to check the latest updates and timeframes in your destination before you travel. Should the place you are travelling to declare themselves a hotspot, mask-wearing rules and entry requirements may exist.

What are the rules for shopping?

There are no 2G or 3G requirements for shops, and the end of the transition phase will also see mask laws relax. Be aware that business owners can still request them.  

A change in status for the region you are visiting could also see masks or entry requirements return so be sure to check local rules before you travel. 

What are the rules in hotels?

The 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested) for hotels is also set to end, but check the local measures or call your accommodation directly to find out the exact situation in your destination. Note: Some hotel restaurants, bars, gyms and spas may still be closed.

What are the rules on public transport?

Deutsche Bahn has lifted the 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested) on long-distance train travel. Masks are still required on public transport; in some states FFP2 masks. 

Reader Service: Planning on travelling to the continent? Make sure you book European travel insurance before you go.

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