Which German states are relaxing COVID rules and which are not?

Some states in Germany are beginning to ease measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus – while others are standing firm, and still others are waiting to see.

What are the current coronavirus rules in Germany?

By announcing that it would begin to relax some COVID restrictions, the state of Bavaria kicked off the relaxations. As calls grow for some of Germany’s toughest restrictions to be lifted, a number of federal states are pursuing their own reopening strategies, without waiting for the outcome of talks at the February 16 summit.

The majority of states have now removed 2G rules in non-essential stores. The regulation is now only in place in three federal states. Here’s a look at what’s happening, where and when.


Despite the high number of coronavirus cases, the situation in hospitals in Baden-Württemberg remains relaxed, and therefore since January 28 the southwestern state has been in “alert level 1”, which means that the 2G plus only applies to events with more than 3,000 attendees. 2G rules have been discontinued in retail.

However, the 2G and 3G rules still apply to many other areas of public life, and the contact restriction of one household plus five other people remains in place. The state government plans to ease the measures from mid-February, depending on the situation in intensive care units.


On Tuesday February 8, more restrictions will be eased in Bavaria, including imposed opening hours for restaurants and bars – although 2G rules will remain in place. More spectators will be allowed at sporting and cultural events and regulations for hairdressers and other convenience services are relaxed. 2G rules are removed for non-essential stores.


New rules are also in force in Berlin. At hairdressers, customers will be able to choose between a test and a mask, and exceptions are made for those who have recently been boosted or vaccinated, or who have recently recovered from COVID. 2G plus continues to apply to the hospitality, leisure, culture and sports sectors. FFP2 masks must be worn on public transport and in universities.

However, the Senate chose to abolish 2G rules in retail from February 9 and replace them with an FFP2 mask requirement.


Relaxations have been announced in Brandenburg, where the state government plans to lift the 2G rule for non-essential shops from February 9 and replace it with an FFP2 mask requirement. The state government is also considering lifting the curfew for unvaccinated people in areas with high infection rates. The 2G plus rules will likely remain in place in restaurants, and the 3G rules will continue to apply in other areas like outdoor spots.


The 2G plus rules will remain in place across the state of Bremen, in hospitality, cultural and leisure establishments, until at least February 13, along with an FFP2 mask requirement. Masks are mandatory on public transport and in shops, and 3G rules apply on public transport and in the workplace. Nightclubs remain closed. However, the 2G rule in retail is set to be removed from February 11.


Hamburg has had 2G plus rules in place since January 10, with exceptions made only for those with a booster. There are currently no plans to relax the strict requirements for public spaces like restaurants, theatres, concert halls, cinemas, swimming pools and gymnasiums, but 2G rules in shops are being phased out from of February 12.


Hesse eased the restrictions on February 6. 2G rules in stores have been removed, but an FFP2 mask requirement is now in place. 2G plus continues to apply in cinemas, restaurants and indoor sports facilities, where capacity restrictions are also in place. However, the mask requirement and alcohol ban for busy pedestrian areas have been removed.

Lower Saxony

Strict COVID rules continue to apply in Lower Saxony. In some places, they are even reinforced, with all children over the age of three being asked to test themselves at least three times a week from February 15. 2G plus is in effect almost everywhere in the state, while FFP2 masks are required indoors. On the other hand, the 2G rules no longer apply to non-essential businesses.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a traffic light system is in operation which adjusts the measures depending on the infection situation. If hospitalizations fall below 3 per 100,000 people, the state will go “green” – simply having 3G rules for convenience services and a mask requirement on public transportation and retail. Under ‘yellow’, 2G plus rules apply inside restaurants, while 2G rules apply to most other areas, including events, sports, culture and leisure facilities.

The Northeast state is currently on “orange”, and therefore 2G plus rules apply in all areas that are 2G under “yellow”.

From February 12, however, the 2G rule in retail is to be replaced with a mask requirement.

North Rhine-Westphalia

No easing is on the horizon in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the state government is still pursuing the goal of curbing the spread of Omicron. This means that unvaccinated people are limited to meeting members of their own household plus a maximum of two other people, while vaccinated people can meet in groups of up to 10 people, not including children under 13.

2G plus applies in restaurants, swimming pools, saunas and thermal baths. 2G applies to commerce, museums, memorials, cultural and leisure facilities, sporting events, local services (excluding hairdressers) and tourist overnight stays. 3G is used in public transport, in schools, integration courses and libraries, at weddings and funerals and at events.


Rhineland-Palatinate is also sticking firmly to the restrictions, with unvaccinated people allowed to meet a maximum of two people outside their household, and vaccinated and recovered people limited to a maximum of 10. The 2G rules apply. apply in retail and children must wear masks in class. 2G plus applies to indoor areas of restaurants and cultural events, while 2G applies to outdoor areas of restaurants and hairdressers. 3G is in place in public transport and in canteens.


The same contact rules are in place in Saarland (unvaccinated people limited to members of their own household plus two people, while vaccinated and recovered people are limited to 10 people). Instead of 2G rules, an FFP2 mask requirement is now in place in stores. FFP2 masks must also be worn in supermarkets and pharmacies, on public transport, at stations, airports, bus stops and waiting areas.

2G plus applies to indoor culture and leisure activities, restaurants and hotels, swimming pools, thermal baths and saunas, as well as visitors to retirement homes and hospitals. 2G applies in driving schools, integration courses, outdoor cultural and recreational activities and dog schools. 3G applies in public transport, at work, in universities and in training.


Since February 6, Saxony has implemented a new coronavirus ordinance, which calls for stricter restrictions if more than 420 intensive care beds or 1,300 normal hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients for two consecutive days. or more. If this limit is exceeded, 2G plus rules will apply in restaurants, while 2G will be in place in retail and other official businesses (excluding banks), as well as in zoos and gardens botanicals. Nightclubs will be forced to close. 2G rules no longer apply in retail.


Coronavirus regulations remain in place in Saxony-Anhalt for the time being, until at least February 24. This means that 3G is in place in most areas, while 2G is in use in restaurants and shops, and children in schools must wear masks and test daily.


Schleswig-Holstein will relax its COVID measures on February 9, so that in future 3G rules will replace 2G in non-essential stores. There will no longer be forced closing times for restaurants, and choirs and bands can practice without face masks, under 2G plus rules. Compulsory testing will be introduced in nurseries, while the mask requirement will remain in place in schools.


Things are also easing in Thuringia, where from February 7 there will be no more contact tracing in restaurants, and 2G rules will be replaced almost everywhere by 3G rules – with the exception of swimming pools and saunas, where 2G policies will remain in place.

COVID rules across Germany are far from uniform

Despite promises to the contrary, Germany’s federal states are again assembling a patchwork of coronavirus regulations that differ from place to place. The focus of the February 16 coronavirus summit will be to try to align the rules nationwide, but previous experience suggests that could be a tall order for Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Remember that COVID rules can change quickly from place to place, so if in doubt check your local authority for the most up-to-date advice.

James R. Rhodes