While German officials are still concerned by the impacts of the pandemic, German states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Saarland are lifting most of their remaining coronavirus related restrictions on Friday.
The officials and have urged citizens to continue to take precautions. However, officials said new infections are low enough for restrictions to be lifted.
“The pandemic is not over yet and we will have to monitor further developments very closely,” said North Rhine-Westphalia Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann.
“But the current number of infections and the progress made with vaccinations enable us to take further steps toward normalcy. At the same time, I appeal to citizens to continue to deal responsibly with the freedoms they have regained,” he added.
North Rhine-Westphalia reopens big events
In the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, masks will no longer be compulsory in outdoor public spaces. However, they are still formally recommended.
A cap on the number of people allowed to attend soccer matches, stadiums and concerts will also be lifted in the state. Previously, events could only host up to 25,000 people, while stadiums were permitted only 50% of their seating capacity.
Additionally, in places where the more expensive and time-consuming PCR tests had been required, such as clubs, rapid antigen tests will now be accepted as well. However, those tests must be no more than six hours old.
PCR tests typically cost around €70-90 ($81-104) and can take one or two days to process, while rapid tests offer results within minutes and cost significantly less.
Meanwhile, clubs, discos and brothels will open again in the southern state of Bavaria, following a year and a half of closures. Bavaria was known for having some of the most severe restrictions on movement in Germany during the pandemic.
From Friday on, the “3G rule” will apply in clubs, discos and brothels, meaning that those going to clubs will have to either be tested, vaccinated or have proof of recovery from COVID.
Employees in establishments with customer contact will also have to take PCR tests at least twice a week if they are unvaccinated. Bavaria additionally lifted a ban on public festivals, paving the way for Christmas markets to take place again this year
Additionally, mask requirements will be lifted in schools.