Coronavirus: Public life

Update 25.11.2022

What do I need to know?

Despite Germany's very high infection rates, many COVID-related restrictive measures have been dropped. From October 1st, new "basic protection” measures apply throughout Germany. Each federal state can introduce further restrictions.

What do I need to know?

What is the so-called "basic protection"?

Basic protection measures apply throughout Germany from October 1st. These measures determine where a medical mask is mandatory and when one has to be present a negative coronavirus test results.

You can find a list of the places where medical masks are mandatory in the section “Where should I wear a medical mask?”. Read more about tests in section “Where should I present a (negative) COVID test?”.

Which (extra) regulations apply in each federal state?

In addition to the basic protection measures, each federal state can introduce further regulations; in particular, when the situation there becomes critical – for example if hospitals can no longer accept patients.

  1. Extension of the mask requirement: This means that medical masks must also be worn indoors or outdoors. People who are fully vaccinated, recovered or tested may not need to wear a mask. Each federal state can decide about it independently.
  2. Compulsory testing for certain public buildings: This means that everyone has to be tested for the coronavirus in order to enter a public building such as schools, day care centres or reception facilities for asylum seekers.
  3. Hygiene concept: At events, there must be a plan on how visitors can protect themselves from the coronavirus. This also applies to different institutions, companies and businesses.
  4. Limitation of participants’ number: At certain indoor events, only a certain number of people are allowed to participate.
Where should I wear a medical mask?

In Germany, you must wear a medical mask:

  • On the long-distance trains of the German railways. This means, for instance, that when you ride an ICE train, you must wear a medical mask. On regional means of transportation, the federal states decide whether you have to wear a mask. Check out the current regulations in your state to learn more.
  • In medical facilities, for example: doctors’ practices, hospitals, care facilities and practices of physiotherapists, occupational therapists or midwives.

You may have to wear a medical mask in closed spaces such as restaurants and event venues, museums, schools, when shopping, on city buses and trains and in many other public places. That is a decision each federal state can make independently. Check out www.bundesregierung.de to find out where do you need to wear a mask according to your state’s regulations.  

Please note: If you refuse to wear a mask where it is mandatory, you may have to pay a fine. Each federal state can decide about such fines independently

In some supermarkets, shops or restaurants, the mask requirement may still apply. Because the management of each venue can decide to add the obligation to wear masks into the so-called house rules. You can usually find information about this at the entrance or ask the staff for more information.

Where should I present a (negative) COVID test?

There is currently no longer a nationwide test obligation in public institutions. However, the federal states can independently decide whether to introduce compulsory testing for certain locations. Organisers of events or operators of nursing homes can also decide to enforce test obligation. Therefore, before your visit, inquire whether you need to present a negative test result. You can find the current regulations in your federal state on the website of the federal government.

Important: Since June 30, 2022, you have to pay for a rapid Antigen test yourself. A test usually costs €8 or more, but in specific circumstances, you may benefit from free tests. You can find out when and how in our "Coronavirus (COVID-19)" chapter.

Are state offices opened now?

Many government offices are currently back to their regular schedule, but some might still have limited opening hours. That means you would need to book an appointment beforehand. You can often book an appointment online or over the phone – so check out their website or call them.

What specific rules apply to vaccinated and recovered individuals?

There are no special regulations for vaccinated and recovered individuals. In case the regulations in your federal state are stricter than “basic protection” level, more rules and restrictions can be reintroduced. Then, the vaccinated and those who have recovered may be exempt from some restrictive measures. Visit bundesregierung.de and select your federal state to find out what regulations currently apply in your place of residence.

Please note: Since October 1st, you are only considered fully vaccinated if you have received at least one booster vaccination. If you have received your second shot more than 3 months ago, you are no longer considered fully vaccinated. You can find out more about vaccination in our chapter “Coronavirus: Vaccination”.

Important: Falsifying vaccination certificates or using falsified (or someone else's) vaccination records is a criminal offence. You can be punished with a fine or even a prison sentence. A conviction can also have an impact on your right of residence.

 

Where can I get a digital vaccination certificate?

If you are fully vaccinated, you can prove it with presenting one of the following documents:

  • your yellow vaccination booklet  ("Imfpass") or
  • the vaccination certificate issued after your vaccination or
  • a digital certificate of vaccination or
  • a so-called “Immunkarte”.

After you are fully vaccinated (usually, after your second dose of vaccine), you can get a QR code which you can scan using your smartphone. To do so, you need either the Corona-Warn-App or the CovPass-App. Later on, you can use one of these apps as digital proof of vaccination.

If you cannot or do not want to have your vaccination certificate on your smartphone, you can use a Immunkarte instead. But you have to pay for the card. It costs about 10. You can get the card online on immunkarte.de or from a pharmacy.

If you are already fully vaccinated but have not received a QR code, you can collect the QR code from a pharmacy. Find a list of the pharmacies which can provide you with the QR code on mein-apothekenmanager.de. You need to present an ID card and proof of vaccination to get the QR code.

Important: For people who have not received a booster jab, the digital vaccination certificate will lose its validity nine months after the last vaccination. That means you will lose your vaccinated status and be considered „unvaccinated”. So, if, for instance, you received your last vaccination on August 15, without a booster jab, your digital vaccination certificate will expire on May 15, 2022.

Important

If you suspect that you are infected, contact your doctor or the local Health Department. They can tell you what to do next. Please do not go to the doctor's office before first calling them. Another option is to go to your doctors' office during the visiting hours specifically assigned to COVID patients if they have such visiting hours. You can find your local Health Department's contact details on the website of the Robert Koch Institute.

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