Landungsbrücken

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

Because of the dynamic infection situation in connection with the spread of the omicron variant, the Senate has decided to largely switch the previously applicable 2G access plan to 2G plus.

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.

2G plus for most public indoor areas

The emergence of the omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus saw yet another sharp increase in infection rates in Hamburg and all of Germany, especially after the Christmas and winter holidays. As an additional safety measure, the Senate has decided that from Monday, 10 January 2022, all indoor areas with public access, which previously had to implement the 2G access plan, must now switch to ‘2G plus’.

This applies to all cafés, bars, restaurants and similar facilities of gastronomy as well as cultural, sports and leisure institutions, and many other areas. For a more detailed list, see below. Retail shops are not affected.

What does ‘2G plus’ mean?

‘2G’ stands for Geimpfte and Genesene (lit. ‘vaccinated persons’ and ‘recovered persons’) and means that indoor facilities for which this access plan applies are required to only service those who are fully vaccinated against or fully recovered from a previous infection with COVID-19.

‘2G plus’ means that in order for guests, patrons, clients or visitors to enter facilities for which 2G plus applies they must be either fully vaccinated or fully recovered, and submit an additional negative test result. This test (either PCR or antigen test) must be conducted by a professional service provider, for example a test centre.

The obligation to submit a negative test result does not apply to persons who have already received their booster jab (either third vaccination jab or, in the case of first vaccination with the vaccine by Johnson&Johnson, second jab).

For businesses and locations that implement 2G plus, many other restrictions may be lifted. For example, theatres and cinemas may again operate at full capacity if all guest wear medical face masks. Restaurants and bars may allow more patrons into their indoor areas, contact restrictions and physical distancing requirements can be loosened.

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, as well as proof of their identity. In addition, they must have their negative test result ready to be inspected before entering the facility, either in written, printed or electronic form.

The 2G plus plan is much safer in comparison with 3G (which includes Getestete, lit. 'tested persons', instead of vaccination or recovery), 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 their doctor’s office, at the official vaccination points in every district and from the mobile vaccination teams.

As it is assumed that children under the age of 16 are tested regularly at school, the restrictions of the 2G plus plan do not apply to them. Still, as children ages 6 and over can now get vaccinated, it is recommended that they do so as soon as possible.

2G plus applies in these areas

By order of the Senate, the 2G plus plan is obligatory in areas of an increased risk of infection. These areas include:

  • Gastronomy (including service areas and food and drink stalls on winter markets)
  • Body care and personal hygiene services (except hairdressers, barber shops and podiatry)
  • Cultural facilities and indoor events (including museums, concert and musical stages, indoor zoos and exhibitions, etc.)
  • Tourist activities (including guided tours, harbour cruises, accommodation, etc.)
  • Funfairs
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions
  • Sex work
  • Sports in indoor areas, swimming pools, gyms, fitness and yoga studios
  • Large-scale sports events
  • Betting shops and casinos
  • Hobby choirs and orchestras

2G plus does not apply to retail shops, to museums, the Bücherhallen libraries or memorial sites, and neither to outdoor events.

As an additional safety measure, face masks are mandatory in all indoor areas, even if the 2G plan applies, except while seated at a table, for example in a restaurant, or while exercising sports. Members of staff in any such area who are not vaccinated must test negative for COVID-19 on a daily basis.

However, the 2G and 2G plus access plans are not applicable to businesses and shops providing services and selling products for everyday needs. 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.

Contact restrictions
In order to avoid large crowds of people from forming, even fully vaccinated and recovered persons may meet in groups of no more than 10 individuals; children under the age of 14 are not counted. This means that families may meet, but larger celebrations are restricted and long-distance travels are discouraged wherever they can be avoided.

For people who are not fully vaccinated or recovered, the current contact restrictions still apply. This means that whenever a group of persons meet in which one or more person is not vaccinated, this group is considered a group of unvaccinated persons. In groups of unvaccinated persons, members of the same household may meet no more than two persons of another household.

Curbs for clubs and music venues
From 24 December 2021, dancing without masks and physical distance is prohibited, which means effectively that clubs, discotheques and live music venues as well as bars that involve dancing are closed.

Curfew at bars and restaurants
Bars and restaurants may still open their doors to patrons under the 2G plus access plan (see above), but there is a curfew from 11 p.m.

Large-scale events
From 28 December, large-scale events, especially sports matches, are closed to public audiences. This largely affects the first Bundesliga matches of the second half of the season.

Schools and kitas
There will be no further restrictions for schools and kitas. This means that the obligation to wear medical masks in class stays in effect, but in-class teaching is possible at schools and kitas remain open throughout.

3G in public transport and offices
By federal adjustments to the Infektionsschutzgesetz (Infection Protection Act), 3G applies to public transport services in Hamburg and all of Germany, meaning that only persons who are vaccinated or recovered or who have tested negative may use means of public transport.

3G also applies to offices. In addition, employers must allow their employees to work from home wherever this is possible.

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.

This applies apart from 2G (plus)

Contact restrictions
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 from other households – 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.

There are strict contact restrictions for people who are neither vaccinated nor recovered. Any private meeting involving one or more unvaccinated persons are restricted to the same household plus no more than two persons of another household. There are exceptions for children under the age of 14 and persons who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons and who have valid medical proof for that.

Face masks in public areas
From December 4 2021, medical face masks (either surgical or FFP2 masks) are mandatory in almost all public indoor areas. These areas include:

  • public transport services, including touristic bus tours and harbour cruises
  • body hygiene services, including hairdressers, barbershops and podiatry
  • shopping, including grocery, retail and regular outdoor markets
  • gastronomy, except while seated at the table
  • religious ceremonies and worshipping services
  • accommodation, educational facilities and public as well as private offices
  • cultural facilities, including libraries and memorial sites
  • casinos and betting shops
  • sex work facilities
  • medical and care facilities, including health and beauty treatments

This also applies to vaccinated and recovered persons, and to customers, patron and staff alike; only exception: vendors at open-air market stalls if they are fully vaccinated or recovered.

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.

Testing
Testing is free for all again in many test centres all over the city.

For many service offers (see above) or visits in health and care facilities, 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.

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.

3G and face masks at offices; remote work
The 3G access plan applies to employers and employees working from offices. This means that employers and staff who are neither fully vaccinated nor recovered must test negative for COVID-19 on a daily basis before entering the office.

The obligation to wear a medical face mask applies at all areas, except when there is only one person present in a room.

Educational institutions
Universities and colleges may allow in-class teaching, especially exams and exam preparations as well as research and teaching in labs and workshops.

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. Being vaccinated or having recovered and testing negative are 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
All retail shops and businesses must implement the 2G access plan (without additional testing). Exceptions to this are shops for the supply of everyday needs, including wholesale, grocery shops, beverage supplies shops, pharmacies, medical supplies shops, shops for babies products, gas/petrol stations and banks.

Restaurants, cafés and bars
Restaurants, cafés and bars may open their indoor areas under certain conditions. These conditions include the implementation of the 2G plus access plan and the collection of contact details.

Shishas and hookahs may be smoked.

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 the 2G plus plan. Guests must submit their contact details.

Patrons who are vaccinated with a vaccine that is not approved in the EU must provide their proof of vaccination along with a valid negative PCR test result.

On-site restaurants and bars may open according to the 2G plus plan. 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 Winter DOM may take place.

Public transport services
In all services and means of public transport, the 3G access plan applies. This means that all passengers in A-, S- and U trains, busses, taxis and all other means of public individual transport must be either fully vaccinated, recovered or hold a valid negative test certificate along with their ticket.

Also, the obligation to wear a medical face mask applies in all vehicles and service areas of public transport.

Cruise ships
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 under the 2G plus plan. Persons taking part in the tours and cruises must be fully vaccinated or recovered, be able to submit a valid negative test result and provide their contact details.

Museums, memorial sites and exhibitions
Museums, memorial sites and exhibition halls are open under the 2G plan; contact details must be submitted.

Zoos and botanical gardens may open, but for their indoor areas, the 2G plus plan applies; contact details must be submitted.

Cultural events
Staging theatre plays, concerts and similar events is possible again under the 2G plus plan; contact details must be submitted.

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); for indoor sport halls, the 2G plus access plan applies; for outdoor sports grounds, 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, provided that they implement the 2G plus access plan.

Swimming pools, saunas, steam baths and similar spa facilities are allowed to open again. In order to enter, complying with the 2G plan plan is necessary and you must submit your contact details. Swimming lessons for children may also take place at indoor swimming pools.

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.

Body care services
Services including physical contact, that is, beauty parlours, massage studios, tattoo studios, tanning salons and similar services, may be offered again. Clients and staff must comply with the 2G plus plan and submit their contact details. Hairdressers and barber shops and medical care services, such as podiatry may still offer their services under the 3G (or optional 2G) plan and strict conditions.

Sex work services, provided that they are registered and checked in accordance with the ProstSchG, may be offered under the requirements of the 2G plus plan. Further restrictions include a ban on alcohol, prior appointment 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 100 attendees. They must be registered as usual and the usual hygiene requirements apply, including the obligation to wear a face mask. Demonstration with more than 100 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
Many 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