Germany to Require Proof of COVID Booster Shot to Enter Bars, Restaurants

German leaders announced tougher requirements to enter restaurants and bars on Friday in response to the spread of the omicron variant.

Citizens have been required to show proof of full vaccination or COVID recovery to enter restaurants, bars, shops, theaters and cinemas. However, Friday's decision means customers will have to show that they have either received a booster shot or provide a negative test along with vaccination proof.

"These are strict rules, but they are pragmatic and mean an easing of the current rules," said Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

As of Friday, 71.6 percent of the population received a full first vaccine course, and 41.6 percent had a booster shot.

Berlin Mayor, Franziska Giffey, said these new regulations will incentivize getting the booster shot.

"Half the population will be boosted ... in a few days and will be able to go to restaurants without a test," Giffey said.

Additional COVID changes include mirroring other countries by shortening the quarantine or self-isolation periods. Fully boosted individuals or those who have been fully vaccinated or recovered in the past three months won't have to quarantine, even if exposed to the coronavirus.

People who don't meet these requirements can end their quarantine or self-isolation period after ten days if they no longer show symptoms. Those with a negative COVID test can shorten their quarantine to seven days.

Federal and state government officials urgently recommend citizens use protective FFP2 masks in shops and while using public transportation.

German Booster Shot Mandate
German citizens are required to have the booster shot to enter restaurants and bars or provide a negative COVID test. People wait to get vaccinated at night club Mensch Meier during an ongoing vaccination campaign of the Clubkommission during the coronavirus pandemic on January 7, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. Covid infection rates, after having fallen throughout December, are steadily rising in the new year as the omicron variant continues to spread. Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images

Still, the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt said it wouldn't introduce the new rule for now because its cases mostly still involve the delta variant, and Bavaria said it was skeptical.

For the past two weeks, Germany's COVID-19 situation has been foggy because of very patchy testing and slow reporting over the holiday period. Official figures don't show the whole picture, although steadily increasing over the past week.

On Friday, the Robert Koch Institute, the national disease control center, reported an official rate of 303.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. An additional 56,335 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours.

In its weekly report on Thursday, the institute said that omicron accounted for 44.3 percent of cases tested for variants in Germany last week, up from 15.8 percent the previous week.

The chancellor brushed aside criticism that he isn't providing sufficient leadership to bring about a universal vaccine mandate, an idea he first backed before taking office last month. North Rhine-Westphalia governor Hendrik Wuest, a member of Germany's main center-right opposition party, said that state governments expect a "timetable" soon.

Scholz deflected questions about the exact timing. saying only that "this must go quickly, and it will, and I am very much convinced of that."

"I will vote for such a vaccine mandate and also advocate it," he said.

Scholz wants lawmakers to vote according to their personal conscience rather than party lines. The idea is for parliament to vote on proposals drawn up by groups of lawmakers rather than by the government.

There are divisions on the issue within Scholz's three-party government. It also isn't yet clear how the mandate would be designed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.