Landungsbrücken

COVID-19 Corona: What's Important To Stay Safe

The pandemic is not over yet, but there are plans for lifting the restrictions. See our brief overview of the rules applicable in Hamburg to contain the spread of COVID-19.

What's changed with Hamburg's latest rules and regulations

What's Important: COVID-19 Regulations in Hamburg

Please note that only the German version of the regulations published in the Hamburg Law and Ordinance Gazette (available on the Internet at www.luewu.de) is legally binding. For more information, please see the rules and regulations for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more English information, please see our English FAQs and our translation of the official German regulations.

Expansion of the 2G plan; winter markets

The Senate has decided that the 2G access plan will be expanded and may also be used as an option in certain areas of retail. In addition, the framework conditions for holding Christmas markets were created. For more general information on the 2G plan, see next section (What does ‘2G’ mean?).

The application of the 2G access plan is generally also possible in retail and in body care and personal hygiene services, for example at hairdressers and barber shops. This means that shop owners who apply the 2g plan for their business, may welcome more patrons without contact restrictions, physical distancing and face masks.

However, 2G access plans are not possible in businesses and shops providing services and selling products for everyday use. This means that businesses such as wholesale, grocery and beverage shops, pharmacies, medical supply shops, specialist shops selling products for babies, petrol/gas stations, banks, post offices, newsagents, dry cleaners and laundrettes, pet supplies shops and vehicle and bicycle repair shops remain open to the general public, but with the usual contact and access restrictions, physical distancing and face masks.

Christmas markets and winter markets may also take place. The organisers of the individual markets have the following options for this:

  • The 2G access plan may be applied to the entire market.
    In this case, access must be monitored and checked strictly. All visitors are then allowed to roam freely, without contact restrictions, physical distancing or having to wear face masks. Food and drink stalls may operate without (covid-related) restrictions.
  • The 3G access plan may be applied to the entire market.
    Access must be monitored and checked too, but with a limited number of visitors, according to the contact and physical distancing restrictions. The arrangement of stalls is free. Face masks are mandatory, except in seated areas for dine and drink, but fewer tables are allowed in order to maintain the distancing requirements.
  • The market may be open for all but under strict conditions.
    Face masks are mandatory, contact restrictions and physical distancing requirements apply. Food and drink stalls must be separated from other stalls and attractions. As facilities of gastronomy, food and drink stalls must apply either the 2G or 3G plan; for 3G food and drink stalls, the usual restrictions apply – as opposed to 2G stalls.

What does '2G' mean?

The majority of Hamburg residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and two-thirds have been vaccinated at least once. This is why the Senate has passed an amendment to Hamburg’s COVID regulations allowing the implementation of an optional 2G plan for indoor activities starting Saturday 28 August.

2G stands for Geimpfte and Genesene (lit. ‘vaccinated persons’ and ‘recovered persons’) and means that indoor facilities that choose to apply this rule are permitted to only service those who are fully vaccinated against or fully recovered from a previous infection with COVID-19. This may affect indoor facilities, venues and cultural events, such as museums, theatres, cinemas, and musical or opera performances, as well as restaurants, bars, live music venues and nightclubs.

For businesses and locations that choose to implement 2G, many restrictions may be lifted. For example, theatres and cinemas may again operate at full capacity. Restaurants and bars may allow more patrons into their indoor areas, contact restrictions and physical distancing requirements are loosened and dancing is possible again. Even though for the first period, face masks are still required when moving around indoors, from Saturday, 25 September, face masks may also be removed in 2G indoor areas.

Please note that the application of this rule is purely optional and entirely up to facility and business owners! Each and every restaurant or venue owner can decide for themselves whether to apply the 2G plan or whether they would prefer to stick to the 3G rule and include persons with negative PCR or antigen tests (Getestete).

Facilities and venues enforcing the 2G plan must apply to do so online (German only) and indicate their intentions clearly, so that all possible patrons know the applicable rules before entering or booking a ticket. Customers must be ready to present their Impfnachweis (proof of vaccination), whether in paper or electronic form, or Genesenennachweis (proof of full recovery) on request.

The 2G rule is much safer in comparison with 3G, because testing does not guarantee the same level of protection against COVID-19 as full vaccination does. Hamburg residents who are not yet vaccinated still have the chance to do so at the Impfzentrum, mobile vaccination stations or at their doctor’s office.

Children between 12 and 17 years of age now have the chance to get vaccinated as well. They are exempt from bans relating to the 2G plan as of now so they can participate in 2G activities and obtain full vaccination protection.

This is still important

Still, the most effective means to lower the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 are:

  • physical distancing;
  • restricting physical contacts;
  • wearing medical face masks;
  • keeping an eye on personal hygiene and health;
  • contact tracing;
  • testing for COVID-19; and
  • staying home.

Testing no longer free

The number of vaccinated persons is growing steadily. As of now, the vast majority of Hamburg citizens has had the chance to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in a safe environment and free of charge.

Therefore, the Senate has decided that from 11 October 2021, free antigen testing for COVID-19 infections will only be offered to the following groups of people:

  • persons with symptoms typical of a COVID-19 infection
  • close contacts of persons infected with COVID-19
  • persons who can prove by medical certificate that a vaccination is not recommended for them
  • children under the age of 12
  • young adults under the age of 18; this expires 31 December 2021

An overview of pharmacies, hospitals, care organisations and laboratories that offer free antigen testing for the groups of people mentioned above can be found here. In addition, many doctor's offices also offer free testing for the groups of people mentioned above. Testing appointments at doctor's offices can be booked here (German only), or with your doctor.

All other persons who are not yet vaccinated can still get tested in order to participate in events or visit places with public access, but they must bear the costs for testing themselves. Please note that only test certificates from medical providers are valid proof in the sense of the 3G access plan. Test results from commercial providers are for the testee’s own information only.

Persons who are not vaccinated and may need a test certificate to travel abroad should check the requirements for flying with their airline and for entry with the official website for the country they wish to visit.

This applies apart from 2G

Open-Air events involving dancing
In order to enable a safe environment for meeting friends and celebrating outdoors, it is now allowed again to hold open-air events with music and dancing. Up to 250 persons may take part in them and all the usual requirements apply, including hygiene concepts, distancing and testing rules, booking in advance and contact tracing, in order for the event and the experience to be safe.

Alcohol banned in Stadtpark
As a consequence of repeatedly occurring night-time riots in the Stadtpark city park in the past few weeks, the possession and consumption of alcoholic drinks is now prohibited between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. A quiet and peaceful Feierabend drink before the curfew, though, is still allowed.

Contact restrictions
The contact restrictions are loosened to up to ten persons indoors and outdoors, regardless of the number of households involved, not counting children under the age of 14, fully vaccinated or recovered persons. This means that it is okay for families, business people or for a group of friends to meet in private or public areas.

Private parties, for example to celebrate weddings or birthdays are allowed again. If more than ten persons come together, this is counted as an event without fixed seating and the usual conditions for events (distancing, face masks, testing negative to access indoor areas) must be complied with.

Please continue to avoid physical contact in any possible way. For all necessary meetings in person, physical distancing applies:

Please maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres to all persons not covered by this rule – whether you are at home, in indoor public spaces or in the outdoors. You need not keep the minimum distance to persons of your shared household, but still it is highly recommended to reduce physical contact to an absolute minimum and to observe the usual hygiene measures as strictly as possible.

Face masks in outdoor areas
The obligation to wear face masks in outdoor areas, parks and along the river banks has been lifted. Yet, in individual cases whenever the minimum distance of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained, it is always safer to wear a mask.

In many indoor areas, including shopping, public buildings, cultural facilities which do not operate under the 2G plan, in hospitals and care facilities, in public transport as well as in services involving physical contact (hairdressers, massage parlours, tattoo studios, tanning salons, etc.), the obligation to wear medical face masks is still in effect; this also applies to fully vaccinated and recovered persons.

Medical face masks must also still be worn at work places, for example whenever there is more than one person present in an office or workshop and when there are no other technical means to prevent droplets and breathing air from spreading.

Clothes, scarves or other pieces of cloth pulled over mouth and nose are not sufficient as face masks; and neither do transparent plastic visors count as face masks.

Testing
For many service offers (hairdressers, etc.), care facilities and activities, testing negative for COVID-19 is essential for entering or taking part. For children under the age of six, there is generally no testing necessary.

As a proof of testing, a negative test result from PCR testing or PoC antigen testing are valid. The test results must not date back more than 24 (antigen test) or 48 hours (PCR test), respectively.

Fully vaccinated or recovered persons do not have to provide negative test results if they can show valid proof of their vaccination or recovery.

Vaccination certificates
Persons who were vaccinated at the central vaccination point at the Hamburg Messehallen (Congress Center) do not have to order their digital vaccination certificate from there or from a pharmacy. The digital certificates can be downloaded from www.panex-impfzertifikat.de (German only).

All other vaccinated persons can get their certificates from local pharmacies. Proof of the vaccination and proof of identity are needed for printing out the certificate, which can then be scanned via QR code by a digital software app.

Educational institutions

Extracurricular activities may open again if clients test negative and keep the physical distance, and if the groups are reduced by half. For example, music schools may open again to children and young adults.

Choir rehearsals are allowed to take place outdoors and indoors. For choir singers as well as woodwind and brass players, an extended physical distance of 2.5 metres applies. Testing negative is required for indoor rehearsals.

Driving practice lessons may start again, in connection with testing concepts and the usual hygiene requirements.

Social work activities for children, young adults and senior citizens may start again; the usual hygiene requirements (physical distancing, group size, face masks) apply.

Retail businesses and shopping
Retail shops are allowed to open again, but the number of people that are allowed on the sales area is determined by the size of the shop. As long as the infection rate stays safely below 50 per 100,000 citizens per week, testing negative is not necessary for entering (although it won’t harm), but you must submit your contact details.

Restaurants, cafés and bars

Restaurants, cafés and bars may open their indoor areas under certain conditions. These conditions include testing negative, collection of contact details, physical distancing, and the general contact restrictions (no more than 5 persons at the same table). Medical face masks must be worn in all indoor areas except when seated at the table.

These restrictions do not apply (except for the collection of contact details) for restaurants, cafés or bars that implement the 2G plan.

Outdoor seating areas may be opened as well. Up to 10 persons may sit at the same table at the same time. Again, testing negative is not mandatory (though it’s safe, easy and free), but you must submit your contact details in order to facilitate tracing infections.

Again, these restrictions do not apply (except for the collection of contact details) for restaurants, cafés or bars that implement the 2G plan.

Food and drinks may also be consumed at standing tables.

Shishas and hookahs may be smoked, but only in outdoor areas.

Alcohol may be sold on-site, but not for take-away in open or disposable containers for direct consumption. Please note that the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks is still prohibited in certain areas, streets, squares and parks.

Accommodation
Hotels, guest houses, holiday rentals, campsites and similar means of accommodation may open up to 100 per cent of their capacities under strict conditions.

Guests must test negative for COVID-19 before entering and undergo testing repeatedly every 72 hours. Contact details must be provided and medical face masks must be worn around the premises except in private rooms or while seated in the dining halls.

On-site restaurants and bars may only be offered to guests registered for overnight stays. Dorms may only be let if the guests accommodated comply with the contact restrictions.

Hamburg DOM
Under strict conditions, for example a specific infection control concept, limited access and a reduced number of stalls and attractions, the Hamburg Summer DOM may take place.

Cruise ships
From 11 June 2021, cruise ships may depart from the port of Hamburg again, of course under strict conditions. One of the requirements, for example, is a negative PCR or PoC antigen test result, which may not be older than 48 hours.

City and harbour cruises; guided tours
Guided tours and harbour cruises may offer their services with full capacity again. Persons taking part in the tours and cruises must have tested negative (except for outdoor-only tours), provide their contact details and wear medical face masks. Persons boarding city cruise busses with a lower deck must still test negative.

Guided tours may take place with groups of 20 person in the open air and up to 10 persons indoors.

Museums, memorial sites and exhibitions
Museums, memorial sites and exhibition halls are open. And as long as the rate stays below 50, testing negative is not a prerequisite to enter (although, again, it is always a good idea to do it regularly).

Zoos and botanical gardens may open their indoor areas again. Restrictions of entry include testing negative, collection of contact details and wearing a face mask.

Cultural events
Staging theatre plays, concerts and similar events is possible again, with due regard to strict hygiene requirements. These may include, without being limited to, physical distancing, testing negative, submitting contact details and wearing medical face masks even while seated.

Available seats in the audience must be arranged in a chessboard way: each seat must have a spare seat to the front, behind, to the right and to the left of it.

Sport and physical education
Sport is possible again on outdoor and indoor sports grounds regardless of the number of persons involved, but with limitations for small spaces (one person per ten square metres); the usual requirements (testing negative, collection of contact details, etc.) apply. For children, the restrictions on group size for sports and similar activities have also been lifted.

Gyms and yoga studios may open their indoor areas under strict conditions (testing negative, collection of contact details, etc.). Only one person per 10 square metres may enter the indoor areas and all training equipment, including yoga mats, must be in at least 2.5 metres distance to each other.

Outdoor swimming pools are allowed to open again. In order to enter, testing negative is necessary and you must submit your contact details. Swimming lessons for children may even take place at indoor swimming pools.

Saunas, steam baths and similar spa facilities may offer their services again. The usual hygiene measures (testing negative, physical distancing, collection of contact details, etc.) apply.

These restrictions do not apply (except for the collection of contact details) for sports activities that implement the 2G plan.

Sport events and other events

Outdoor and indoor sports events may take place under strict conditions with an audience of up to 650 persons; in certain individual cases even more than 650 persons are allowed, depending on the venue. The conditions include, without being limited to, testing negative, fixed seating, collection of contact details, wearing medical face masks.

Other indoor entertainment events may take place for an audience of up to 100 persons if there is fixed seating and up to 50 persons without fixed seating; outdoor events may take place with an audience of up to 500 persons with fixed seating and 250 without fixed seating. The usual hygiene requirements apply unless specified otherwise in the regulations.

Again, these restrictions do not apply (except for the collection of contact details) for sports events that implement the 2G plan.

Weddings
Getting married in a civil ceremony is allowed with up to ten persons present (including the bridal couple and the officials); all guests must test negative before attending.

Commercial leisure activities
Outdoor and indoor leisure activities, such as high rope courses, escape room games, skate parks, etc.) are allowed under the same circumstances as apply to retail shops: one person per 10 square metres is allowed on the premises, all persons must have tested negative, wear face masks, leave their contact details and stick to the contact restrictions. Group activities are allowed with up to 20 persons outdoors and up to 10 persons indoors.

Body care services
Services including physical contact, that is, hairdressers and barber shops, podiatry, beauty parlours, massage studios, tattoo studios and tanning salons, may be offered again. Clients must present a valid negative test result and submit their contact details; a medical face mask must be worn wherever this is possible; staff must be tested on a regular basis.

Sex work services, provided that they are registered and checked in accordance with the ProstSchG, may be offered unter strict conditions. These include a ban on alcohol, prior appointment, testing negative and the obligation to wear a medical face mask.

Religious and worshipping events
Religious gatherings and worshipping events may take place with more than 10 persons without prior registration. Singing in the community is allowed again if the singers wear masks or test negative, submit their contact details and keep an extended physical distance of 2.5 metres.

Political demonstrations and parades
Political demonstrations, marches and parades may take place with up to 250 attendees. They must be registered as usual and the usual hygiene requirements apply, including the obligation to wear a face mask. Demonstration with more attendees need to be registered and permitted separately.

Senior Citizens
At meeting places and group activities for senior citizens, the face masks may be taken off while seated.

Fully vaccinated or recovered persons
Some restrictions, such as contact restrictions or the limited visiting rights in care facilities, are lifted for persons who can show a valid vaccination certificate (Impfnachweis) or certificate of recovery from an infection with COVID-19 (Genesenennachweis).

Still, these persons are not exempt from rules that apply to all citizens, such as the obligation to wear (medical) face masks or the space limitations on public premises, for example when shopping groceries.

Please note that only the German version of the regulations published in the Hamburg Law and Ordinance Gazette (available on the Internet at www.luewu.de) is legally binding. For more information, please see the rules and regulations for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more English information, please see our English FAQs and our translation of the official German regulations.

We would like to say thank you for being considerate and respectful, and for taking these rules of infection control and mutual support seriously!

Corona: What's New