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What Covid rules are still in place in Germany from February?

With fewer and fewer Covid-19 cases hitting Germany’s intensive care units, many federal states have – or plan to – get rid of most identifiable Covid rules. Here’s what’s still on the books.

Public transport Stuttgart FFP2 mask
A passenger on public transport in Stuttgart holds an FFP2 mask. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Rettig

Germany dropped its requirement to wear an FFP2 or KN95 surgical mask on long-distance trains on Thursday, with many federal states also getting rid of mandatory masks on public transport the same day.

The federal government still requires people to wear FFP2 masks in hospitals and care facilities and requires negative Covid-19 tests for arrivals from China. Otherwise, most Covid rules in Germany have been left up to the 16 federal states, potentially leading to a confusing patchwork of rules. Here’s a rundown of what’s in place throughout the country. 


The southwest German state has gotten rid of essentially all its Covid rules as of January 31st. There is no requirement to wear a mask on public transport or in doctor’s offices. There is also no requirement to isolate for someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The requirement to wear masks in hospitals and care facilities remains though, as it’s a federal law.


Bavaria has ended both its obligation to isolate if someone tests positive for Covid-19 and its FFP2 mask requirement on public transport. People are still required to wear an FFP2 mask in most cases where they interact with the health system, including doctor’s offices.

People wear masks on the S-Bahn in Frankfurt.

People wear masks on the S-Bahn in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert


The capital has ended its requirement for FFP2 masks on public transport.

Isolation requirements remain in place for someone testing positive for Covid-19. They can exit quarantine after five days, with or without a negative test, provided they’ve been without symptoms for at least 48 hours.

The requirement to wear an FFP2 remains in place for doctor’s offices and other health facilities.


The state surrounding Berlin has lifted FFP2 requirements for public transport but kept a slightly stricter regime than its neighbour. People working in or visiting hospitals, homeless shelters, or refugee centres must test negative for Covid before entering, and must wear an FFP2 mask. The isolation requirement remains on the books. A mask requirement remains in effect for doctor’s offices.


The city-state has lifted all state-level corona regulations as of Thursday, including masking and isolation requirements. People in Bremen must still comply with the federal requirement to mask in hospitals and long-term care facilities.


People in Hamburg no longer have to wear a mask on public transport. They also might not have to isolate if they test positive for Covid-19 – in this case, you only need to isolate if you feel unwell. If you have no symptoms, you don’t have to isolate. If you visit a doctor’s office though, you need to wear a mask. If visiting a hospital or care facility, you must first test negative for Covid-19.


There is no longer either a mask requirement for public transport or an isolation requirement in Hesse. However, someone testing positive for Covid-19 is required to keep an FFP2 mask on if they leave the house and is not allowed to visit a hospital or care facility until their infection clears. People must also test negative before entering such a facility.

Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania

The seaside state has lifted its masking requirement on public transport but it remains on the books in doctor’s offices. Isolation requirements also remain in place.

READ ALSO: Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Lower Saxony

Together with Bremen, Lower Saxony lifted its mask requirement for public transport this week and it no longer remains in the books. Just about everything else does that was in place before does though, including isolation requirements and masking requirements for doctor’s offices.

North Rhine-Westphalia

As of February 1st, you don’t have to wear a mask on public transport in Germany’s most populous state – or isolate at home if you’ve tested positive for Covid-19. If you test positive, you can’t go into a hospital or care facility until at least five days later. You also need to wear a mask at the doctor’s office.

Rhineland Palatinate

The requirement to wear a mask on public transport in the Rhineland also lifts Thursday. Isolation requirements are also gone but anyone testing positive is required to wear a mask in public spaces such as grocery stores. Someone out for a walk by themselves outside doesn’t have to wear one, even if they’ve tested positive. Masks remain required in medical spaces, such as doctor’s offices and people visiting hospitals or care facilities must have a negative Covid-19 test.


Germany’s small southwestern state has lifted its masking requirement for public transport and in crowded spaces such as homeless shelters or refugee centres. The isolation requirement remains in place, as well as masks in doctor’s offices and other medical spaces.


Saxony is getting rid of almost all of its Covid-19 regulations on Friday. Both masking and isolation requirements will go. The one exception is that masks will still be required when someone comes in contact with the health system, such as in a doctor’s office.


Saxony-Anhalt was one of the first federal states to drop its masking and isolation rules. The last of its state rules were lifted in January. The federal masking requirement for hospitals and care facilities remains in effect there though.

A sign with the inscription "Ride only allowed with mouth-nose covering! Protect yourself and others!" is stuck to the train door of a Deutsche Bahn train at Nuremberg main station.

A sign with the inscription “Ride only allowed with mouth-nose covering! Protect yourself and others!” is stuck to the train door of a Deutsche Bahn train at Nuremberg main station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann


Germany’s northern state, surrounding Hamburg, has more or less lifted its Covid-19 rules. Federal rules about wearing a mask in hospitals and care facilities are still in effect, with only a few exceptions.


Starting Friday, there is no requirement to either wear a mask on public transport or isolate in Thuringia if you’ve tested positive for Covid-19. If you are positive, you’re required to wear a mask when outside your home.

Federal regulations, which govern mask wearing in hospitals and care facilities, are scheduled to remain in place until at least April 7th.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant