EXPLAINED: How you can visit a bar in Berlin from Friday

Berlin bars will be allowed to welcome guests again starting on Friday - one of several openings to take place in the capital in the coming days and weeks.

EXPLAINED: How you can visit a bar in Berlin from Friday
A Berlin bartender in October. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

The outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants are also allowed to open on Friday May 21st, Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz (SPD) announced on Tuesday after a Senate meeting.

Guests must show a negative Covid test result from the last 24 hours – or prove that they have been fully vaccinated or recovered from a coronavirus infection. Free rapid tests are offered at multiple locations around the capital. They will also be required to leave their contact information, usually through the luca App.

READ ALSO: How do you prove that you’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in Germany?

In order to avoid large gatherings, bar-goers will also be required to sit down at one spot during their visit. Up to five people from two households will be allowed.

“Please do not form clusters of people, sit down somewhere in the respective small group, and then everything is good,” said Kollatz.

The rules on the sale of beer, wine and other alcohol will be relaxed only slightly: Until now, it was forbidden to serve or sell alcoholic beverages in Berlin after 10pm. In future, the ban will apply between 11pm and 5am.

Kollatz justified sticking to this restriction by saying that the sale of alcohol favours crowds – which increases the risk of coronavirus infections.

On Wednesday Berlin had a 7-day incidence of 61.5 new infections per 100,000 people in the population, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). This marks the seventh day in a row that the capital has reported infections below the critical value of 100.

If numbers remain below this value, the Berlin Senate is also allowing the inner areas of bars, restaurants and cafes to open on June 18th, provided that guests make a reservation and show a test (or proof of vaccination or recovery). A limited number of customers will also be allowed at a time.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules in Germany on outdoor dining

Further openings

On Wednesday May 19th Berlin also allowed for several other parts of public life to reopen after months of closures.

Outdoor theatres, cinemas and concert houses were allowed to reopen, also with a test requirement and a cap of no more than 250 guests at a time.

On Friday, 11 outdoor swimming pools will initially reopen to those who have a test and make a reservation. Children up to 12 years old will be allowed to swim for free during the summer holidays.

Shopping is also possible again without making an appointment in advance.

Several other openings are also coming up in the capital, such as fitness and dance studios, and the inner areas of zoos and botanical gardens, on June 4th.

Provided that coronavirus numbers stay low, hotels will also be allowed to rewelcome overnight guests starting on June 18th.

READ ALSO: Outdoor dining and swimming pools: How Berlin plans to reopen in May

Mandatory tests will continue to apply for all these venues. 

As with the rest of Germany, Berlin has been in a lockdown since the beginning of November, which have seen cafes, restaurants and bars – except for pick-ups and takeaways – close. 

Furthermore, most cultural and sport venues have also shut their doors, and have slowly been reopening over the last two months as infection numbers drop and the country’s vaccine campaign picks up speed. Kitas (daycare centres) also reopened on Monday.

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Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

Three years after Germany introduced a series of protective measures against the coronavirus, the last are set to be repealed on Friday.

Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

The remaining restrictions – or the requirement to wear a mask in surgeries, clinics and nursing homes – are falling away a couple of days after German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) made an announcement that the Covid-19 pandemic is “over.”

“We have successfully managed the pandemic in Germany,” said Lauterbach at a press conference on Wednesday.

In light of low infection numbers and virus variants deemed to be less dangerous, Germany has been steadily peeling away the last of its longstanding measures. 

READ ALSO: Germany monitoring new Covid variant closely, says Health Minister

The obligation to wear a mask on public transport was lifted on February 2nd. 

During the height of the pandemic between 2020 and 2021, Germany introduced its strictest measures, which saw the closure of public institutions including schools and daycare centres (Kitas).

“The strategy of coping with the crisis had been successful overall,” said Lauterbach, while also admitting: “I don’t believe that the long school closures were entirely necessary.”

Since the first coronavirus cases in Germany were detected in January 2020, there have been over 38 million reported cases of the virus, and 171,272 people who died from or with the virus, according to the Robert Koch Institute. 

Voluntary measures

In surgeries and clinics, mask rules can remain in place on a voluntary basis – which some facilities said they would consider based on their individual situations. 

“Of course, practices can stipulate a further obligation to wear masks as part of their house rules, and likewise everyone can continue to wear a mask voluntarily,” the head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Andreas Gassen, told DPA.

But Gassen said it was good there would no longer be an “automatic obligation”, and that individuals could take the responsibility of protecting themselves and others into their own hands. 

READ ALSO: Is the pandemic over in Germany?

“Hospitals are used to establishing hygiene measures to protect their patients, even independently of the coronavirus,” the head of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, told DPA.

With the end of the last statutory Covid measures, he said, we are entering “a new phase” in dealing with this illness. 

“Hospitals will then decide individually according to the respective situation which measures they will take,” he said, for example based on the ages and illnesses of the patients being treated.