SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

OPINION & ANALYSIS

How Germany’s 2G-plus Covid rules have left millions of people confused

Germany's 2G-plus regulations - meaning you have to be vaccinated/recovered and boosted or tested to get into most public places - have left millions of people unsure if they need a test or not, writes Rachel Loxton.

A sign on a restaurant in Dresden says entry is only for people who are vaccinated, recovered with a booster or a negative test.
A sign on a restaurant in Dresden says entry is only for people who are vaccinated, recovered with a booster or a negative test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

“Is it okay if I go deep into your nose?”

It’s a question I never imagined I’d be asked in my life, but it was even a bit surprising to hear as I sat down to get an antigen test in Berlin on Sunday after waiting in a long queue. 

“What do you mean?” I asked. 

The woman who was getting ready to test me for Covid-19 explained that inserting the swab further into the nose than usual is better for detecting the Omicron variant. 

It was my choice, but adopting the British overly-polite persona that I never seem to be able to shake off I obliged. As she advised me to breathe through my mouth, I let out a little yelp when it felt like she was tickling my brain. 

“That really was deep,” I laughed on my way out of the cubicle while the next person was already moving into the chair to get their nose inspected. 

Great, I thought. I might have to do this every time I go to a cafe, restaurant, bar or the cinema now. 

I say might because I’m not very sure. 

Germany’s new 2G-plus rules have left a lot of people suddenly unsure if they have to show an official negative test result to have coffee with a friend.

Under the 2G-plus restrictions, people have to be vaccinated/recovered and have their booster jab to get into many public places. If they don’t have a booster, they need a negative test. 

People who are unvaccinated can’t enter at all as was the case under the 2G rules (the Gs standing for geimpft (vaccinated) and genesen (recovered).

But there are lots of unclear points, not least the fact they are open to interpretation depending on the state and on the venue operator. 

A restaurant in Kronberg am Taunus, Hesse, advertises 2G-plus rules.

A restaurant in Kronberg am Taunus, Hesse, advertises 2G-plus rules. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last May during a community drive. I picked the J&J queue because it was shorter (people wanted the mRNA vaccine Moderna instead) and I liked the idea of it being a single dose. No queuing for another jab at a later date!

More than three million people in Germany have had J&J, including some vulnerable groups like people in temporary accommodation. 

Then German government advice, which surfaced in autumn, said that people who had J&J should get an mRNA jab. 

“Oh, we’re getting our booster jab earlier,” I told my friends who had J&J. In November I was “boosted” and felt pleased to have that shot out of the way. 

But as The Local has been reporting, the Health Ministry now says that the second mRNA shot was to optimise the basic immunisation, and was not a booster shot.

Authorities recommend a further jab (the real booster shot) three months after the second vaccine. 

To complicate matters further, states have different stances on that. Some do count J&J and another shot as being boosted, and some don’t. 

The general feedback seems to be that if you’ve had three ‘classic’ shots, there are no issues. But if you’ve had J&J or a Covid infection as well as being vaccinated, it gets more complicated. 

READ ALSO: 2G-plus: What people who’ve had the J&J jab in Germany need to know

Do I need a test or not?

Under the 2G-plus rules which came into force in Berlin on Saturday, I had no idea if I needed a test to get into places, but took it to be on the safe side so I wouldn’t be turned away from anywhere. 

At a Vietnamese restaurant in Kreuzberg I had to show my vaccination pass, negative test and photo ID (my passport). My friend was granted entry with his NHS digital vaccination pass showing three shots, plus his passport.

In another venue, I showed my vaccination pass and the barkeeper said I didn’t need to show a test. 

When I posted about the issues on Twitter, some people reported similar inconsistencies. 

One user said: “My understanding is that you don’t need a test, but a friend of mine yesterday was denied entry into a bar even if he had J&J + booster, so keine Ahnung (no idea).”

Another Twitter user who doesn’t fall neatly into the neat ‘three jabs’ category said: “We were jabbed twice and got Omicron recently. Denied entry last night.”

Some people said having J&J and an mRNA shot showed as 3/3 shots on their vaccination app, while others (including me) only have 2/2. 

My colleague, who also had J&J and another shot in November, said she didn’t need to show a test to visit a bar in north Berlin. 

Better communication 

The actual testing is not the problem – sticking a swab to the back of your mouth, up your nose and twirling it around has become a normal part of our pandemic routine along with sitting on the sofa watching too much TV. Getting regular tests is a good idea. 

But with the tightening and changing of rules, I almost feel like I’m being scolded for not having my “real booster” even though I’ve followed all the restrictions and orders the government has put in place. 

It also gave me an idea of what it must be like for people who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons (and those who choose not to get vaccinated), and might have to get lots of tests. There are long waits at some test centres and a lot of brain tickling. 

For me the biggest problem is the lack of clear communication. I can understand why authorities want people to test more. But we need standardised rules throughout Germany (and in plenty of time before new restrictions come into force). And if rules change (like with J&J), we need to be informed, rather than having to search with difficulty for it.  

The restrictions also add more stress to visitors to Germany who might not have a digital vaccine passport. The German government still doesn’t allow people who don’t live in the country to get the EU digital pass, although some pharmacies do give it out. 

Germany needs to make it very clear who needs the test in the first place to make sure that testing facilities are available for those who need it most.

OPINION: The pandemic has revealed Germany’s deep obsession with rules and compliance

Member comments

  1. If you have received the J&J vaccine plus 1 extra mRNA jab your certificate should say 2/2. Once you have received the further dose after another 3 months you should then have a certificate that says 3/3.

  2. “But with the tightening and changing of rules, I almost feel like I’m being scolded for not having my “real booster” even though I’ve followed all the restrictions and orders the government has put in place. ”

    Congratulations to the author. In 3 months they’ll be classed as unvaccinated and can join the unvaccinated in lockdown”
    Following all these covid rules will only guarantee we stay with this world where the government can just take your freedom when they see fit. At a whim.
    But clutching all your documents and smart phone while hoping you don’t get turned away by some over zealous security guard that himself doesn’t know the rules, does sound like fun. Bit like a freedom lottery. Also, Feeling guilty while hoping a complete stranger might find you guilty of not keeping up with the dictats of the fourth reich.stinks of freedom.

  3. Concerned my CDC card (I’m vaxxed/boosted = 3 shots) will not be accepted as proof. Vaccinated visitors from the States have reported being denied entry to retail activities as some owners only accept EU digital pass and require those who have it to get tested.

    These archaic protocols only sow more confusion. Endless vaccines/boosters are clearly not working in promoting confidence to return to some semblance of normal life again.

  4. I had J&J, then a ‘booster’, then caught Covid (I’m just out of isolation). I don’t know whether or not it’s a health risk for me to now get another ‘booster’ so soon. Technically I don’t think I need it for protection against Covid, but I would need it to go to a restaurant… The rules and guidelines are not clear at all

    1. I would suggest that if you don’t think you need the booster. Don’t get it. Do your own research and make your own decision. From my understanding ( natural immunity is better than vaccination).
      I would not be getting a medical treatment so that I could go to a restaurant though.

  5. I don’t understand the logic behind the flat “everyone needs a booster” rule. It should be when you had your last shot. Why wouldn’t a freshly vaccinated person be able to do everything that a “boostered” person can do?

    1. That’s actually one of the rules here in NRW, where they’ve made things even more complicated. If you’re freshly vaccinated (less than 90 days ago) then you don’t need a booster shot or a negative test to be allowed into a 2G+ venue. Same applies for fully vaccinated people who have had covid in the last 90 days (but more than 28 days ago).
      I think it’s a fair way of doing things, but definitely makes the already complicated 2G+ rules even more complicated.

  6. So in Lower Saxony the Pub I visit can decide to follow the 2G or 2G+ rule. If they only allow 70% capacity then they can follow 2G rules, if they want to use 100% then they have to follow 2G+.
    The problem is you never know what system they are using until you turn up at the Pub.

  7. I was J + J’d in June, I had my booster today.

    I was slightly worried that the doctor said I may have to explain to people that as my app says 2/2, I am boosted. This worries me as a) I am not confident in my German enough to relay this to people and b) a cafe, club or museum visit may become complicated by somebody not understanding how the process works, and we know the people in Germany are pernickety over anything official.

    I wish my fellow 2/2ers the best of luck.

  8. I’ve decided its not worth going to eat out or hit the pool until this nonsense passes. I’m not going to boost my kids. If the vaccine doesn’t prevent infection (seems the case with Omicron) and children between 12-17 have virtually a 0% of getting sick enough to die or even hit the hospital, but have a better chance of having myocarditis, why are we pushing boosters on kids? I got them both vaccinated as the science at the time seem to imply they wouldn’t get infected or infect others. I got my booster as did others in my office. Nonetheless, 2/3 tested positive for COVID last week. Most had no symptoms or very mild ones. Less than a standard cold. Kids vaccinated, tested 3 days a week, and STILL have to wear a mask every day ALL day. When will this madness stop?

  9. Echoes from history. ‘Trust us, we’re the Government. It’s for the greater good.’ Somebody needs to point out to the German Govt ( and it clearly won’t be the EU ) that a democracy is more than just a voting system. A lot more. For one thing , it means Government operating by consent and persuasion. It may be slower, messier and less certain than diktat but that’s democracy.

  10. What I find frustrating is that Germany is (yet again) behind the curve on the science when it comes to getting boosters after an infection. The US CDC and Australia DoH say that people should get boosted as soon as they are symptom-free post-infection. However, Germany still does not let us get boosted until 3 months after infection. So that means for 3 months, more visits to test centers (where we continue to expose ourselves to potentially infected/contagious individuals) as well as coughing up 20€ per extra rapid test in a week if we want to be 2G+ compliant. Is it any surprise that the populous is confused, frustrated and pushing back against everything the government is telling us?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

SHOW COMMENTS