Germany's bathing waters: excellent

Top marks for nearly all bathing waters in Germany once again in 2020 – but Covid-19 pandemic did put a damper on the fun

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90 per cent of bathing waters in Germany rated ‘excellent‘
Source: Thaut Images /

In the 2020 bathing season, the EU Commission rated 90 per cent of all German bathing water sites 'excellent'. 96% of bathing waters in lakes, rivers and on the coast complied with the quality standards of the European Bathing Water Directive. This is confirmed by the Quality of Bathing Water data published by the EU Commission on 1 June for the 2020 bathing season. The report confirms the continued good quality of bathing waters in Germany, as in previous years.

Eleven of a total 2,304 bathing sites in Germany were rated 'poor' for the 2020 season according to the criteria of the EU Bathing Water Directive. Protective (precautionary) measures included the temporary closure of 95 sites during the bathing season due to poor water quality, 66 of which because of problems with cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Poor hygienic quality of water forced closure at 29 sites. In most cases, this was the result of storms and torrential rains causing effluent to run off into bathing waters.

Covid-19 pandemic led to patchy operations at bathing waters

Due to the restrictions on bathing as a result of the pandemic, 69 bathing waters were not accessible to bathers either temporarily or for the entire season. Another 15 bathing waters were closed due to a lack of operators or due to renovation work. At 27 bathing waters, no samples could be taken (in part) due to the pandemic; hence these bathing waters were not classified. Another 38 bathing waters were not assessed due to insufficient samples.

Tests were carried out at 2,304 German bathing sites in the 2020 bathing season, with 11,156 water samples taken and evaluated. 363 of the bathing sites are along the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas, 1,941 are inland.

The latest data on bathing water quality is available online on the web pages of the individual federal states. For an overview go to

Restrictions in bathing season 2021 also likely: information on coronavirus and bathing waters

The risk of infection with the SARS CoV-2 virus increases the closer people are to each other and when many people are in the same place at the same time. Therefore, rules for keeping a distance and minimising contact must also be observed when staying at and in bathing water. As it is not feasible to wear a face covering while bathing, maintaining safe distances in the water and on land is essential to protect against infections. For the beach area and, if applicable, the use of special infrastructure at the bathing water, the Länder-specific distance and hygiene rules apply.

Transmission of the SARS coronavirus-2 while bathing is considered extremely unlikely. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence at present that the virus is transmitted via water. However, people who suffer from an acute respiratory tract infection or diarrhoea should not go swimming and expose other bathers to risk. This is a universally applicable rule, regardless of which potential pathogens are involved.

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