Berlin to exclude unvaccinated people from indoor dining, bars and hairdressers

Germany's capital Berlin will tighten Covid rules by denying unvaccinated people access to many indoor public places like restaurants, bars, gyms and hairdressers in an effort to contain a coronavirus resurgence.

A bar with '2G' rules, which excludes the unvaccinated from entry, in Berlin.
A bar with '2G' rules, which excludes the unvaccinated from entry, in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Under new rules in the city-state set to come into force on Monday, only fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 will be able to enter leisure facilities and a list of other selected venues – a system known as “2G” in Germany.

The move comes in response to “the rising number of coronavirus cases and the increasing pressure on intensive care units”, the Berlin senate said in a
press release on Wednesday evening.

Theatres, museums and outdoor events with more than 2,000 visitors such as football games will all be off-limits to unvaccinated adults.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, says German virologist 

Minors and people who can’t get jabbed for health reasons will not be affected by the new restrictions, for them a negative test will suffice.

Up to now, Berlin has given private businesses the option to have 2G rather than 3G rules. 3G means people can enter a premise with proof of vaccination (geimpft), recovery from Covid (genesen) or a negative test (getestet).

Companies in the capital are encouraged to ask employees to work from home more, and to limit office attendance to 50 percent of staff.

The measures agreed by the Berlin senate are among the toughest yet in Germany, which in recent days has repeatedly shattered its record for new daily coronavirus infections.

The country added almost 40,000 cases on Wednesday, an all-time high, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

The surge has been blamed on Germany’s relatively low vaccination rate, with just over 67 percent of the population fully inoculated.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Germans reluctant to get vaccinated?

Some hospitals have started postponing non-urgent surgeries again to care for a rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients.

 ‘The virus doesn’t care’ 

Under Germany’s federal system, its 16 regional states have significant powers to shape their own coronavirus approaches, at times leading to a confusing patchwork of rules across the country.

The hard-hit eastern state of Saxony introduced stricter “2G” measures at the start of the week, while other states including Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are also introducing tougher curbs on the unvaccinated.

The worsening pandemic comes with Germany in political limbo after a September general election.

The winning Social Democrats are in talks to form a new coalition government by early December with Finance Minister Olaf Scholz as chancellor.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, who remains in office for now, called for an urgent meeting between the federal government and regional leaders to agree coordinated measures.

“The virus doesn’t care that we have a caretaker government or that we’re in the middle of coalition negotiations,” she told a press conference.

Germany’s current vaccination rate “is sadly not high enough to prevent a rapid spreading of the virus”, she warned.

READ ALSO: Germany to bring back free Covid tests

Member comments

  1. This means less than nothing since most places don’t check. DW did an investigation and only one place of 14 actually asked for proof. There must be fines for businesses that don’t comply.

    1. Hi there, yes very good point. We wrote about this issue, comparing Germany to France which seems to have a much smoother and enforced health pass system. Will get more info on Berlin in the coming days.

      1. In Germany, nobody I have encountered – not even border agents – has ever used the EU-DCC as it is intended, i.e. by verifying the QR code using one of the verification apps. Southern Europe is better in my (more limited) experience there.

    2. Yep, and even if they do ask, the staff have suddenly developed a very impressive ability to read QR codes and verify electronic signatures with just their eyes. As Rachel says, it’s very different in France where they actually mostly scan with the verification app in my experience.

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End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden’s Covid laws really means

With the expiry of Sweden's two temporary Covid-19 laws, the downgrading of the virus's threat classification, and the end of the last travel restrictions, April, officially at least, marks the end of the pandemic. We explain what it means.

End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden's Covid laws really means

What are the two laws which expire on April 1st? 

Sweden’s parliament voted last week to let the two temporary laws put in place to battle the Covid-19 pandemic expire on April 1st.

The first law is the so-called Covid-19 law, or “the law on special restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 illness”, which was used during the pandemic to temporarily empower the authorities to limit the number of visitors to shops, gyms, and sports facilities. It also gave the government power to limit the number of people who could gather in public places like parks and beaches. 

The second law was the “law on temporary restrictions at serving places”. This gave the authorities, among other things, the power to limit opening times, and force bars and restaurants to only serve seated customers.  

What impact will their expiry have? 

The immediate impact on life in Sweden will be close to zero, as the restrictions imposed on the back of these two laws were lifted months ago. But it does means that if the government does end up wanting to bring back these infection control measures, it will have to pass new versions of the laws before doing so. 

How is the classification of Covid-19 changing? 

The government decided at the start of February that it would stop classifying Covid-19 both as a “critical threat to society” and “a disease that’s dangerous to the public” on April 1st.

These classifications empowered the government under the infectious diseases law that existed in Sweden before the pandemic to impose health checks on inbound passengers, place people in quarantine, and ban people from entering certain areas, among other measures. 

What impact will this change have? 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a disease that’s dangerous to the public”, or an allmänfarlig sjukdom, people who suspect they have caught the virus, are no longer expected to visit a doctor or get tested, and they cannot be ordered to get tested by a court on the recommendation of an infectious diseases doctor. People with the virus can also no longer be required to aid with contact tracing or to go into quarantine. 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a critical threat to society”, or samhällsfarlig, the government can no longer order health checks at border posts, quarantine, or ban people from certain areas. 

The end of Sweden’s last remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions

Sweden’s last remaining travel restriction, the entry ban for non-EU arrivals, expired on March 31st.  This means that from April 1st, Sweden’s travel rules return to how they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

No one will be required to show a vaccination or test certificate to enter the country, and no one will be barred from entering the country because their home country or departure country is not deemed to have a sufficiently good vaccination program or infection control measures. 

Does that mean the pandemic is over? 

Not as such. Infection rates are actually rising across Europe on the back of yet another version of the omicron variant. 

“There is still a pandemic going on and we all need to make sure that we live with it in a balanced way,” the Public Health Agency’s director-general, Karin Tegmark Wisell, told SVT

Her colleague Sara Byfors told TT that this included following the “fundamental recommendation to stay home if you are sick, so you don’t spread Covid-19 or any other diseases”.