Preventing coronavirus infection in Berlin – frequently asked questions
The Berlin Senate Department for Health provides constantly updated information on how to deal with coronavirus.
As of: April 6, 2021
- Contacts, maximum number of persons, and free-time
- Schools, daycare centers and colleges
- Home office, work and mandatory testing
- Businesses: shopping, services and mandatory testing
- Compulsory wearing of masks
- Travel, quarantine and Corona testing
- Rapid and self-tests
- Finding out if you have Corona in suspected cases and quarantine
- Coronavirus and mutations
Contacts, maximum number of persons, and free-time
You are allowed to meet other people, but are still urged to reduce your physical social contacts outside your own household to an absolute minimum. This applies in particular to people who have symptoms that indicate a coronavirus infection, such as coughing, a fever, a cold or loss of sense of smell and/or taste. Please only leave your home for valid reasons.
Strict contact restrictions are in force due to the dynamic rate of infection.
Currently, only one person who is not part of your own household can visit you at home, children under 14 are not included in this rule. Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., private visits at home are prohibited. Spouses or partners, or people for whom custody and visitation rights exist, as well as people who are seriously ill and dying are exempt from this rule.
In public spaces outdoors, it is still possible for two households with a maximum of five people to meet during the day. Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., you may only be outside alone or with one other person. In both cases your own children under 14 years are not counted.
When you are in public spaces you must always maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from other people. You are also required to observe the minimum distance when meeting people in private spaces.
Where the minimum distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained, each person is required to wear a mask. The minimum distance rule does not apply to people you live with in the same household, people with whom you are in a relationship, or people for whom you have custody or visitation rights. It also does not apply to people who are dying or are critically ill.
Everyone is urged to use a rapid antigen test to make sure that they are not infected with the coronavirus before meeting people from outside their household. Several testing centers throughout Berlin offer free tests. Self-tests can also be used.
Exceptions to contact restrictions can be found in Section 2(2) of the Ordinance.
No, there is no complete curfew in Berlin – not even overnight. However, extensive restrictions apply. Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., you are only allowed to be outdoors in public spaces alone or with one other person. Your own children under the age of 14 are not counted.
No upper limits on persons apply at funerals and memorial services, but it must be possible for people to maintain the minimum distance. Up to 50 people may participate in funeral gatherings outdoors, the number is limited to 20 people in enclosed spaces. If more than 20 people are present at an outdoor event, the organizer draw up a protection and hygiene plan.
To protect yourself and others, you are urged to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters even at private gatherings, if there are people there who are not members of your householdor for whom you do not have custody or visitation rights (see exceptions according to Section 2). It is also recommended that you get tested before private meetings at one of the many testing centers in the city. You can take a rapid test or test yourself using a ‘self-test’ to rule out a coronavirus infection.
Events are still subject to restrictions on the maximum number of participants who may be present at the same time:For indoor events:
- Currently, private meetings of one household with only one person from another household are permitted. Your own children under 14 years of age are excluded from this rule. Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. no visitors are allowed. Spouses or partners or people for whom custody and visitation rights exist, as well as people who are seriously ill and dying are exempt from this rule.
- For all other events: no more than 20 people
- If more than five people take part in an event, they must have a current negative test result for coronavirus infection.
- For private meetings: Two households with a maximum of five people are allowed to meet during the day. However, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., you may only be outdoors alone or with one other person. Your own children are not included in this rule.
- For all other events: no more than 50 people
The organizers must draft a hygiene and protection plan for their event that shows how the minimum distance will be maintained and must keep a record of all those who were present if indoor premises are also used for the event. This record will enable participants to be contacted quickly if there is an infection. In a private setting, this plan must also be drawn up for outdoor events with more than 20 people present at the same time.
Concerts, theater, opera and concert hall performances and other public artistic and musical performances are still prohibited. This also includes dance events and events that are part of the culture, leisure or entertainment industry.
In addition, events with more than 20 people indoors and with more than 50 people outdoors are prohibited. Please note that only persons who have a current negative test result for coronavirus infection may attend indoor events with more than five people present at the same time.
For exceptions, please refer to Section 9 paragraph 3 of the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance.
Assemblies, such as protests or rallies, may take place with no limit on the number of participants. If an assembly is held outdoors, an everyday mask must be worn. In enclosed spaces a medical mask is mandatory. Participants in motorcades are only exempt from the obligation to wear a medical mask if they are alone or with members of their own household in the vehicle. Car drivers do not have to wear a mask.
Only persons who have a current negative test result for coronavirus infection may take part in assemblies in enclosed spaces with more than five people present at the same time.
The respective organizers of the assemblies are furthermore responsible for ensuring that minimum distances are adhered to and that the hygiene rules are observed. They must be able to demonstrate this in a hygiene and protection plan. The participants in a demonstration do not need to be documented.
Yes, religious services and other religious-cultural events are permitted. A hygiene concept that complies with the hygiene framework concept of the Senate Department for Culture must be implemented to protect the participants. Accordingly, religious services may not last longer than 60 minutes. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the minimum distance of 1.5 meters to other people is maintained and that the obligation to wear masks in enclosed spaces is observed during the entire service. The wearing of a medical face mask is compulsory.
If a religious service or similar event with more than 10 participants is planned without the religious community having established a hygiene concept that complies with the requirements of the cultural administration, the event must be reported to the respective public order authority at least two working days before it is due to be held.
Congregational singing is not permitted indoors. Outdoors, 15 minutes of congregational singing is permitted with a mask. The distance between participants must be at least 2 meters.
Attendance lists must be kept so that contacts can be traced quickly in case of infection.
The two zoos, Zoologischer Garten and Tierpark-Berlin Friedrichsfelde, including the animal enclosures and the aquarium, and are open to the public under strict conditions. This also applies to the Botanical Garden and its greenhouses. If circumstances require, the facilities themselves can decide differently.
In enclosed spaces, it is mandatory to wear an FFP2 or equivalent mask. Outdoors, visitors must wear at least an everyday mask.
Yes, museums, galleries, memorials and similar private and public cultural and educational institutions may be opened to the public under strict conditions. Visitors must provide proof of a negative Corona test. This can be a PCR test that is no more than 24 hours old, a same-day rapid test, or a self-test that is performed on-site under supervision. In addition, bookings have to be made in advance. Libraries can open for lending. Visitors have to wear an FFP2 mask without a valve or an equivalent mask.
Sports activities are only possible to a limited extent. Fitness studios, dance studios and similar facilities must remain closed. As a rule, only contactless sports are possible.
Contact-free sports may only be carried out alone, with members of your own household or with members from one other household, provided the minimum distance is observed and a maximum number of five people is not exceeded. Children up to the age of 12 are allowed to train outdoors in fixed groups. In this case, the group may include up to 20 participants plus one supervisor.
Professional sports are exempted from the contact restrictions. A record of attendance must be kept for activities taking place in sports facilities. There is a requirement to wear a medical face mask in indoor sports facilities when not training.
The Infection Protection Measures Ordinance’s general provisions still apply. The responsible parties must inform the participants of the applicable hygiene and protection plan before the training session and must ensure that participants comply with the rules.
Sporting competitions in the Bundesliga, international leagues and comparable competition systems are permitted, provided a usage and hygiene concept is established by the respective sports association. Spectators are not permitted.
The Senate Health Administration has issued the Care Measures Covid 19 Ordinance. This restricts the visiting time of persons in care facilities to once a day, for one hour, by one person. Visitors up to 12 years of age can be accompanied by one person. The same applies to visitors who require someone to accompany them at all times. The visit may be received in the patient’s own room. It is a prerequisite that the visitors do not have a respiratory infection and that they have a negative Corona test, which must not be older than 24 hours. In addition, an FFP2 mask without an exhalation valve must be worn during the entire stay.
If a Corona case occurs in a nursing home, visitation rights may be further restricted by the management.
There are no restrictions, for example, on visiting seriously ill and dying people.
The Senate Health Administration has issued a Hospital-Covid-19 Ordinance. This limits the visiting hours of patients to once a day, for one hour, by one person. The visitor must not show any Covid-19 symptoms. There are no restrictions on, for example, visiting seriously ill and dying people and visiting children under the age of 16. In addition, pastoral visits and visits by notaries and similar officials are always possible. By carrying out a risk assessment, the management of a hospital can decide on further restrictions of visiting rights. Patients and visitors must wear an FFP2 or equivalent mask during visits.
Someone giving birth may be accompanied by one person.
Yes, amongst others, people in positions of authority in service companies, stores, museums or managing events must document the participants or attendees. This applies regardless of whether events are held indoors or outdoors. Attendance can also be documented in digital form.
This documentation makes it possible to quickly contact those who may have been infected if someone who was at the event tests positive for the coronavirus. This record must contain the attendee’s full name, telephone number, area or district of the place of residence or permanent residence (not required when attendance is documented in digital form), address and email address, if available, and the time present at the event.
The information provided must be true; if not, a fine can be imposed. In addition, the person can be refused entry.
You can find the provisions for documenting attendance in the Ordinance under Section 5.
Schools, daycare centers and colleges
Compulsory attendance has been further suspended in Berlin’s schools. For grades 1 to 6 and for the grades 10 to 13alternating lessons take place in classes in which the number of pupils is reduced by half. These classes are taught in fixed groups either daily at least for three hours or alternating on a daily or weekly basis.
It is compulsory to wear a medical mask in the entire school building – also in class. School-led learning takes place at home for all pupils who are not taught in face-to-face classes.
Primary grades continue to offer emergency supervision. This option can be used only when absolutely necessary. Single parents as well as parents with at least one parent working in an essential occupation can take advantage of this offer. All essential occupations are published in the KRITIS-List.
You can find more information about the school opening on the webpages of the Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family.
As of April 8, 2021, the daycare centers and childcare facilities will be closed. Emergency care will be provided. Only single parents and families in which at least one parent works in an essential occupation are entitled to emergency childcare from this date. However, this only applies if there is no other childcare option. Emergency childcare is also available for preschool children and children with special educational needs.
For more information on emergency care operations in daycare centers, please visit the website of the Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family Affairs.
Eligibility for children’s sick pay for working parents during the Corona crisis has been extended retroactively to January 5, 2021. Each parent is now entitled to 20 days per child, and single parents are entitled to 40 days. If there are more than two children, parent couples and single parents are entitled to a maximum of 90 working days. A new feature is that if daycare centers or schools are closed due to a pandemic, this entitlement also applies in cases where the child is not ill. Parents who work in their home office are also eligible. The provision applies to children under 12 years of age; no age limit applies to children with disabilities.
For more information on children’s sick days and children’s sick pay, visit the website of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
Two neighboring or family-related households may share the supervision of their respective children under the age of twelve. The prerequisite for this is that the privately organized care is provided free of charge, on a reciprocal basis and in fixed groups. This means that the children of both households may be supervised alternately by one household and the other.
The state, private and denominational universities in Berlin must observe the requirements of the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Measures Ordinance, in particular concerning hygiene measures and the documentation of attendance. They may not open to the public until April 24, 2021.
The summer semester 2021 will therefore begin digitally. Until April 24, 2021, attendance at universities will remain severely restricted. Teaching events will not take place. Exceptions can only be allowed for face-to-face examinations which have already been planned, including entrance examinations, and mandatory practical events which cannot be conducted in digital form. In these exceptional cases the number of participants is to be limited to a maximum of 25 in one room for examination purposes only. Student participation is voluntary and they will not suffer any disadvantages if they do not take part.
Academic libraries may only offer online services and lending operations until April 24, 2021.
Current information on Corona measures at universities and research institutions can also be found on the special webpage of the Senate Chancellery – Science and Research.
The summer semester will initially start digitally between April 1 at Berlin’s universities of applied sciences and April 12 at the other universities and art colleges. Mandatory practical formats and examinations that cannot be implemented digitally can continue to be conducted in attendance mode subject to the relevant infection control measures. If the pandemic situation permits, additional face-to-face courses may be added during the summer semester. The basis for these respective actions and decisions is the Berlin step-by-step plan for university opening under pandemic conditions.
Home office, work and mandatory testing
Yes. In the case of office work or similar activities, employers must allow home office or teleworking unless there are absolutely necessary work-related reasons not to do so. This is regulated by the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance of the Federal Government.
Berlin employees and companies with questions about the home office regulation can send an e-mail to email@example.com or contact the hotline of the State Office for Occupational Safety, Health and Technical Safety: 030 902545-250 (Monday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm).
For more information on the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance of the Federal Government, visit the website of the Federal Ministry of Labor.
No, you do not have to without your consent. If you do not work at your usual place of work, an employment contract agreement between you and your employer or a corresponding company agreement is required. If it is possible for you, you are strongly advised to work in a home office. This will protect you and others.
Berlin employees and companies with questions about home office regulations can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the hotline of the State Office for Occupational Safety, Health and Technical Safety: 030 902545-250 (Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 14:00).
More information on home office and contact reduction in companies can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labor where you can also find the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance of the Federal Government.
According to the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance, public and private employers in Berlin may only occupy a maximum of half of the workplaces in offices at any one time. This refers to workplaces at a company’s premises. It would therefore be possible, for example, to employ half of the workforce in home office mode and the other half in the company’s premises. Another possibility is to reduce the presence in the company’s office by means of shift work or alternating presence. Other methods could also be possible.
Activities that must be performed at the workplace itself for compelling reasons are excluded – for example, due to necessary customer or patient contact associated with the activity, the answering of emergency calls or incidents, for monitoring operational systems, for the functioning of the administration of justice, the prison system, the core tasks of public administration, and for vocational training in accordance with Section 1 BBiG.
For more information on the regulations, please visit the page of the Senate Department for Integration, Labor and Social Affairs.
Employers are obliged to offer all employees working on site at their workplace a free rapid test or self-test twice a week. Employees who have direct contact with customers, for example in the area of body-related services, are obliged to take advantage of this offer. In these cases, evidence and test results must be retained for four weeks.
If you have direct contact with customers or guests, you are required to take a Corona rapid or self-test at least twice a week. Your employer must offer you such a test as part of its individual protection and hygiene concept and issue you with a certificate of the test result if you wish. For self-employed persons who have contact with customers or guests, one test per week is mandatory. Regardless of your type of employment, proof of testing must be kept for a period of four weeks.
For self-employed persons who have contact with customers or guests, one test per week is mandatory. The proof of testing must be kept for four weeks.
Businesses: shopping, services and mandatory testing
Retail stores may only open if they use the “test and meet” system. This means that visitors and customers must present proof of a current negative Corona test. Furthermore, the number of visitors and customers must be limited: There is a limit of one customer per 40 square meters of sales area.
Retail stores for food and beverages, tobacco stores, stationery stores, newsstands, bookstores, pharmacies, banks, medical supply stores, opticians and hearing aid providers may continue to open without it being necessary to book an appointment in advance and without proof of a negative Corona test result. This also applies to drugstores, health food stores, gas stations, pickup and delivery services, weekly markets, commercial craft supplies, and bicycle and automotive repair shops.
More information on which businesses are allowed to open under which conditions can be found in the information guide.
Restaurants, eateries and canteens may offer food and beverages for pickup and delivery. No alcohol may be sold between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The sale of alcohol for immediate consumption is prohibited.
More information on which businesses are allowed to open under which conditions can be found in the information guide.
Hairdressers, cosmetic studios, massage practices, tattoo studios, tanning salons and other businesses in the field of body care are allowed to open, subject to compliance with special hygiene and protection measures. They can only be used by prior appointment or if digital contact tracing is guaranteed, and customers must wear FFP2 masks. Customers who are waiting are not permitted to remain in the premises. Customers must present a negative Corona test. Self-testing in this case is valid only if done on-site under the supervision of the person providing the service.
Practices that provide medically necessary treatments, such as physiotherapy and foot care, may open. Clients are required to wear an FFP2 mask and comply with hygiene requirements.
Visitors and customers can prove that they have tested negative for coronavirus if:
- They have a rapid antigen test performed on site.
- They perform a self-test on site and under supervision.
- They submit written or electronic evidence of a rapid test or self-test performed on the same day. This may be a certificate from a testing center, a fee-based Corona testing site, or from a service or retail establishment that has already been visited on the same day.
- They present written or electronic proof of a PCR test that is no more than 24 hours old.
If a rapid test or self-test is performed on site, customers and visitors are entitled to receive proof of the result. A corresponding sample can be downloaded here. A negative result can be used to visit other services requiring testing on the same day.
Yes, the rapid or self-test is only valid for the day on which it was performed. There are no exceptions to this, not even for the early morning hours.
Yes, the obligation to test or provide proof of a test also applies to vaccinated persons. This is because, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), even vaccinated persons could still transmit the virus.
Clubs, trade fairs, exhibitions, flea markets and special markets, amusement arcades, casinos and betting offices are not allowed to open. Places of entertainment such as cinemas, theaters and concert halls, discotheques, shisha bars and smoking restaurants must also remain closed to the public and driving schools and similar businesses must also remain closed.
Hotels and proprietors of vacation homes and similar establishments may not offer overnight accommodation to tourists. Non-tourist overnight stays – for example, as part of a family visit or a business trip – are permitted.
Saunas, steam baths, spas and similar facilities must also stay closed. Prostitution is also not allowed to be practised commercially inside or outside the premises.
More information on which businesses are allowed to open can be found in the information guide.
Compulsory wearing of masks
Pursuant to the Ordinance, FFP2 masks are protective masks without a valve which comply with the FFP2 standard or similar standards (KN95, N95 or KF94).
The obligation to wear FFP2 masks applies to customers and visitors in retail stores, cultural establishments, libraries, medical practices and service establishments, as well as in vocational training. Passengers on public transport are also required to wear an FFP2 mask. The same applies in train stations, ferry terminals and the airport. Passengers in taxis must also wear an FFP2 mask. In hospitals and care facilities, the obligation to wear an FFP2 mask applies to visitors as well as to residents and patients who receive visitors or are not in their rooms.
A complete list of all areas for which there is an obligation can be found in the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance under Section 4 and in the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance of the Federal Government.
Medical face masks as understood in the Berlin Ordinance: are surgical masks or masks conforming to the KN95/N95 or FFP2 standards without an exhalation valve. Wearing a medical face mask is compulsory for the staff in public transport, including train stations, ferry terminals and the airport. However, FFP2 masks are compulsory for all passengers.
Medical masks must also be worn in private car journeys taken with persons from another household. Car drivers are exempt.
Pupils and teachers are also required to wear a medical face mask inside the school building. Outdoors, the mask may be removed if a minimum distance of 1.5 meters is maintained.
This requirement also applies during religious services, in restaurants, in office and administrative buildings, and for the staff in retail stores, in shopping centers, and in tradespersons’ premises, service, and other commercial establishments with public access.
The complete list of all areas in which a mask is required can be found in the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance under Section 4 and in the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance of the Federal Government.
Wearing a face mask or other covering of the mouth and nose is strongly recommended in all public places in which a distance of 1.5 meters to other people cannot be maintained, in particular in shopping streets and other busy places.
The obligation to wear a mask applies at demonstrations, at markets, in queues, and in certain streets, places and public squares in the time between 6 a.m. and midnight.
The complete list of all areas in which a mask is required can be found in the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance under Section 4 and in the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance of the Federal Government.
Yes, to people with low incomes, the homeless and refugees – a supply of 3.5 million masks is initially available.
If you have low income, you can contact your district authority to get masks. You are entitled to them, for example, if you receive social welfare or Hartz IV benefits or if you are studying and receive student support (Bafög). Trainees/apprentices receiving a training allowance can also make a claim. You should take proof of eligibility with you. Your local district authority will announce when and where the masks are handed out.
The State Office for Refugee Affairs carries out distribution in refugee accommodation. Homeless people receive masks in Berlin Cold Aid accommodation.
Each person can initially receive five masks free of charge.
Children up to the age of six are exempt from the mask requirement.
If you do not comply with the obligation to wear a mask, you can be fined €50 or more. Children who are age six and under, people who cannot wear a mask due to a health impairment or disability, and people with a hearing impairment and those accompanying them are exempt from this obligation.
The mask must be worn in such a way that the mouth and nose are completely covered reducing the emission of aerosols and droplets when breathing, coughing, sneezing or speaking.
You can find the full text of the regulations on the covering the mouth and nose and medical masks under Section 4
Every large gathering holds an increased risk of infection, especially when hygiene and distancing rules are not complied with. Masks were made mandatory in order to protect the public, including the protesters themselves. Organizers are required to have a protection and hygiene plan for their protest. Since the number of people participating in a given protest tends to fluctuate, additional precautions are necessary. That includes the requirement to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth.
Participants in motorcades are exempt from this obligation only if they are alone or with members of their own household in the vehicle. All other passengers are required to wear a medical face mask. Drivers are not required to wear a mask.
Travel, quarantine and Corona testing
Due to the increasing rate of infection, you should avoid any unnecessary travel. Please stay at home if possible. Currently there is a ban on tourist overnight stays in all of the Federal States in Germany. If you after all travel to another Federal State, please find out in advance about the regulations which apply in the respective Federal State. A list of the Corona information websites of the other Federal States can be found in the website of the Federal Government .
Germany’s federal government is constantly examining which countries are to be classified as risk areas. Virus variant and high incidence areas are also identified The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) publishes a list of risk, virus variant and high incidence areas which is constantly updated. If you would like to obtain further information about the current number of cases in Germany, RKI uses an “interactive dashboard”: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/478220a4c454480e823b17327b2bf1d4 to show what is happening in the German states in regard to infection rates.
In the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of the Federal Government, a distinction is made between entries into Germany from risk areas, high incidence areas and virus variant areas.
- Risk area: States or regions where there is currently an increased risk of infection.
- High incidence area: areas where the 7-day incidence is 200 or higher.
- Virus variant area: areas abroad where certain SARS-CoV-2 mutations are prevalent which are more infectious according to current research.
High-incidence areas and virus variant areas are also grouped together as high-risk areas. Anyone entering from one of these high-risk areas must comply with the reporting, testing, detection, and quarantine requirements. These vary in severity depending on the type of risk area.
The current risk area classifications are published by the Robert Koch Institute.
Yes, if you have been in a risk area, virus variant area or high incidence area abroad within the last ten days before entering the country or if you enter the country from abroad by air. This is regulated by the current Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of the Federal Government. The test must not be older than 48 hours at the time of entry and must meet the criteria of the Robert Koch Institute. Unless you are arriving by air from a risk area, you can also take the test immediately after entry.
If you come from a high incidence or a virus variant area, you must provide proof that you are not infected with the coronavirus before entering the country. The test must also not be older than 48 hours.
You must keep the test result or medical certificate for at least ten days after entry and give it to the health department upon request.
In addition to the obligation to test and provide proof, all other quarantine and notification requirements continue to apply.
More information on domestic quarantine and reporting and testing requirements can be found in the Entering from Abroad section.
Yes, the current amended Corona Entry Ordinance of the Federal Government stipulates that if you enter Germany by air, you must take a Corona test (PCR or antigen test) before departure. This applies to the whole of Germany. If the test result is negative, you can take your flight. You must show the proof of negative test to the airline and also carry it with you when you enter the country. It should be available in German, English or French. The test must not be older than 48 hours at the time of entry. You have to pay for the test yourself.
If you have been in a risk area in the last 10 days before entering Berlin, you are subject to reporting, testing, detection and quarantine obligations. The basis for this is the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of the Federal Government and the Infection Protection Measures Ordinance of the State of Berlin.
- If you enter from a risk area you must, as a matter of principle, register using the digital entry form. The data therein will be encrypted and forwarded directly to your local health department. If it is impossible for you to fill out the digital entry form, you can also print out a hand-written form instead and submit the completed form to the airline/other transporter or the relevant authority upon request.
- If you are entering from a risk area, you are also required to be tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus before or immediately after entry. The test must have been performed no earlier than 48 hours before entry. When entering the country by air, it is mandatory that the test be performed prior to entry and that the negative test result be presented to the transport operator prior to departure. You must keep the test result for at least ten days after entry and hand it over to the relevant authority upon request.
- After entering the country, you must immediately and directly go to your own home or other suitable accommodation and quarantine yourself there for a period of ten days. You can shorten the quarantine period at the earliest on the fifth day after entry by means of a negative Corona test.
Different regulations apply to those entering from risk areas and high-risk areas. In addition, people entering from virus variant areas must observe the transport ban contained in the Federal Coronavirus Protection Ordinance. A list of these areas is published by the Robert Koch Institute.
For more information on exceptions to quarantine, testing, and reporting requirements, see entering the country.
When you arrive in Berlin from a high-incidence area abroad, you must comply with the following obligations: the obligation to register, the obligation to test and provide proof, and the obligation to go into quarantine.
- To fulfill the obligation to register, you must fill out the digital entry form. The data stored there will be forwarded in encrypted form directly to your local health department. If it is impossible for you to fill out the digital entry form, you can also print out a hand-written form instead and submit the completed form to the airline/other transporter or the relevant authority upon request.
- Furthermore, you must present a negative Corona test for entry. This test must be taken no earlier than 48 hours prior to entry. You must keep the test result for at least ten days after entry and hand it over to the relevant authority upon request.
- After your entry, you must immediately enter a ten-day period of quarantine. The quarantine obligation also applies if you initially entered the Federal Republic of Germany from another federal state. During quarantine, all contact with persons not belonging to your own household is prohibited. You can only end quarantine after five days at the earliest.
Different rules apply to those entering from virus variant areas and unspecified risk areas. The Robert Koch Institute publishes which areas are currently considered to be high-incidence areas.
For more information on exceptions to quarantine, testing, and reporting requirements, see entering the country.
The Federal Coronavirus Protection Ordinance currently prohibits people entering from virus variant areas. This does not apply if the people entering the country have their place of residence and right of abode in Germany.
If Berlin is your place of residence or if you have a right of residence, then the transport ban does not apply to you. However, you must comply with the obligation to register, the obligation to test and provide proof, and the quarantine obligation, i.e. you have to:
- take a Corona test before entering the country, however, this test must be taken no earlier than 48 hours prior to entry.
- carry and show proof of a negative Corona test upon entry.
- fill out the digital entry form. The data stored there will be forwarded in encrypted form directly to your local health department. If it is impossible for you to fill out the digital entry form, you can also print out a hand-written form instead and submit the completed form to the airline/other transporter or the relevant authority upon request.
- immediately enter a 14-day domestic quarantine. You cannot end this early.
Other exceptions to the transportation ban can be found in the Federal Coronavirus Protection Ordinance. The Robert Koch Institute publishes which areas are currently considered to be virus variant areas.
You have the possibility to end your home quarantine earlier after your stay in a risk area or a high incidence area if you take a Corona test after at least five days quarantine and the result is then negative. You can ask your general practitioner or the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians about this. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians also provides information about testing in Berlin. You will have to remain in quarantine until you have the test results. If you show any symptoms, youmust immediately notify your local health department and go into quarantine again.
After a stay in a virus variant area, you cannot shorten the quarantine period of 14 days.
All requirements for shortening domestic quarantine can be found in the corresponding regulation under Section 24.
Yes. Exceptions from quarantine are classified according to a tiered system. The exact classification can be found in the Ordinance under Section 22..
Exceptional cases include, for example:
- first and degree family members who are visiting their family in Berlin and who are staying for less than 72 hours or people returning to Berlin from a family visit in a risk area and who have stayed there for less than 72 hours (Section 23, paragraph 2, point 1 a) First-degree family members are children and parents.
- Persons entering Berlin for the purpose of visiting first- and second-degree family members and who can present a negative corona virus test result which was taken no more than 48 hours prior to entry or upon entry into the Federal Republic (Section 23, paragraph 3, number 2 a)). First and second degree family members are children, parents, grandparents and siblings.
- Border commuters who have to go to a risk area on a regular basis, for example, for work or training, and who return to their place of residence in Berlin at least once a week. The prerequisite here is that appropriate protection and hygiene concepts are adhered to (Section23, paragraph 2, number 2 a 4).
High-risk areas are areas with very high incidence levels. The above exceptions to the quarantine requirement do not apply if you have been in a virus variant area in the ten days prior to entry.
The general quarantine obligation does not apply to people entering Berlin from risk areas within Germany. However, everyone is urged not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary. Tourist overnight stays are prohibited. Non-tourist overnight stays – for example, as part of a family visit or a business trip – are permitted.
Rapid and self-tests
- A PCR test searches for the genetic material of the coronavirus in the test material (deep nasopharyngeal swab). It is considered the gold standard in diagnosis for SARS-CoV-2. The analysis is complex and time-consuming and can only be performed in an appropriately equipped laboratory. The swab must be taken by trained medical personnel.
- In contrast to the PCR test, an “antigen rapid test” does not look for viral material in the test material (deep nasopharyngeal swab), but for molecules that are characteristic of the coronavirus. The swab can be performed by persons trained in swab taking. They do not necessarily have to be medical personnel. The test result is usually available after 15 to 20 minutes.
- A self-test usually works like an antigen rapid test, but any person can take the swab themselves according to the manufacturer’s instructions, a deep nasopharyngeal swab is usually not required. The test result is usually available after 15 to 20 minutes.
Furthermore, the following points should be noted:
- A positive rapid test or self-test must always be confirmed or refuted by a PCR test.
- Rapid tests and self-tests primarily detect viral material and show a positive result when the viral load in the mouth or nose is already sufficiently high.
- Each test represents only a snapshot at the time of testing and cannot predict infection status in the days or hours ahead.
Rapid tests and self-tests are for your personal protection, that of your family and the people around you.
In addition, you need a negative test result for various occasions: for example, to enter certain retail locations, to receive body-related services, or to visit cultural establishments such as museums, galleries, and memorials. Depending on the field in which you work and how you are employed, you may also be required to take one or two rapid or self-tests per week.
Separate tests are carried out at schools, daycare centers and nursing homes.
According to the Coronavirus Test Ordinance of the Federal Government, every person with residence or regular place of stay in Germany is entitled to one free rapid antigen test per week if they have no symptoms. This entitlement can be exercised at the testing centers of the Senate Department for Health, Care and Equality or the Test-to-Go sites. More detailed information can be found here: https://test-to-go.berlin/
The testing center or the Test-to-Go site issues a test certificate for each test result. If the rapid test is positive, this also results in a claim and obligation for PCR retesting.
If you do not have any symptoms that indicate an infection with the coronavirus, you can have a free rapid test done once a week. For this purpose, the Berlin Senate has established a number of test centers where you can get tested for free. Most of these test centers require a prior appointment booking at test-to-go.berlin.
Pharmacies have the option to perform rapid tests, but there is no obligation for pharmacies to do so. Whether and when the pharmacies offer rapid tests can only be found out from the staff of the respective pharmacy.
Rapid tests can be purchased both online and at local retailers (e.g., drugstores, discount stores, pharmacies, and other vendors) depending on what is available.
At the stage when a person is most contagious, rapid tests can detect the virus quite reliably. If the test is positive, the person is almost certainly infected. A negative result, however, does not rule out infection – especially if there is a low viral load.
Rapid tests for self-administration as well as those performed by trained personnel are safe as long as they are used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These tests may only be marketed if they meet the requirements set out by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices and are listed here.
Self-tests and rapid tests can detect a virus quite reliably in the phase in which the person tested is particularly infectious. However, a negative result does not necessarily rule out infection, especially if there is a low viral load or the swab was not performed correctly. False-positive results can also occur.
If the rapid or self-test is positive, this result must be checked by a PCR test. An additional rapid test is not suitable for this purpose. A PCR test must be carried out either by your family doctor, for example, or by staff at a testing center. It should be noted that any person who receives a positive test result from a rapid or self-test must isolate themselves. Unless you have a negative PCR test result, you must self-isolate for14 days. If the PCR test result is negative, isolation can be ended.
Finding out if you have Corona in suspected cases and quarantine
Since the symptoms of a cold and a corona infection are similar, please first call your family doctor. The further procedure will be discussed there. If your symptoms worsen, you can also call the medical on-call service under 116 117. The Robert Koch Institute recommends that people with respiratory symptoms, even if they only have a cold should stay at home for at least 5 days and isolate themselves there. If you have a rapid antigen test available, you can check your infection status at home.
The Senate Department for Health recommends, corresponding to the test criteria of the Robert Koch Institute, that you should get tested if …
- … you show severe symptoms typical of COVID-19
- … you had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of Covid-19, such as someone in your own household or someone identified as a contact by Germany’s contact tracing app (Corona-Warn-App) and have unexplained symptoms that indicate a disease
- …you have acute symptoms of respiratory disease and if you belong to a risk group or are in close contact with risk groups
- …you have acute symptoms of respiratory disease and had or have had contact with many people (e.g., at an event or during your work as a teacher, a trainer, or a sex worker).
- … you and people around you have acute symptoms of respiratory illness and there is a high 7-day incidence of Covid-19 in Berlin, or
- … your state of health deteriorates due to acute symptoms
As a precautionary measure, those who meet these criteria should self isolate at home and should contact their doctor or the relevant health department so their case can be evaluated. If necessary, the public health officer will make a decision, on how to proceed based on the criteria of the Robert Koch Institute.If a test is done and you are waiting for the results, please continue to self-isolate at home – at first for 14 days – and follow the general rules on hygiene.
In the case of mild symptoms, additional criteria are taken into consideration, such as belonging to a risk group or having close contact with persons from a risk group. Please contact your doctor first by telephone. Direct contact with other people should be avoided. Your doctor decides whether you need a test. Alternatively, you can also contact a special corona practice.
If your doctor decides that a test is necessary, the costs for the test will be assumed by the patient’s health insurance. People who do not have German health insurance will have to clarify with their own health insurance company whether that company will assume the costs.
The Robert Koch Institute makes separate recommendations concerning testing in nursing homes, hospitals, schools and medical practices and other institutions.
The Senate Department for Health has set up a hotline that you can reach at (030) 9028-2828. In addition, you may call the association of statutory health insurance physicians at 116117.
If you have relevant symptoms or you suspect that you could be infected with the coronavirus, you should follow the guidelines given under, “Who should get tested in the case of a suspected coronavirus infection? Your borough health office or your family doctor will then decide how to proceed. If a test is done, it might happen – depending on the severity of your respiratory symptoms – that you are sent to one of the special coronavirus screening center. If you do not have a family doctor, you can also contact a special Covid-19 practice.
Even before you have your test results, you should self-isolate at home, maintain a distance of two meters to other people, follow the rules for handwashing, and wear a medical mask, when you are in contact with others.
The Berlin districts have issued general rules to relieve the health departments from declaring a quarantine. The general rules specify who must undergo mandatory quarantine even without an order from the health department. This usually concerns close contacts, persons showing typical Covid 19 symptoms and persons who have tested positive. You can find an overview of the general rules in the twelve Berlin districts on our website under Quarantine.
The basic rule is: reduce your contacts and observe whether you have symptoms. Whether you have to go into quarantine depends on whether you have been in close contact with the person who tested positive. Close contact includes contact, for example, by having a direct conversation without a mask that lasted longer than 10 minutes at a distance of less than one and a half meters. This could also include people from the same household.
The person who tested positive must report these close contacts to their relevant public health department. The general rules issued by the districts instruct persons who test positive to inform their closer contacts themselves. Then the administrative follow-up begins. As a rule, only the close contacts that took place from two days before the onset of symptoms onwards are recorded. If you are reported as a contact person, your public health department will contact you, if necessary, and clarify whether you are a close contact person. If this is the case, a quarantine is usually imposed and you will be informed either by the relevant health department or by the person who tested positive.
If you have already found out about a positive contact – e.g. through a personal phone call – discuss together whether you had a close contact or whether this can be excluded. If you belong to a circle of close contacts, reduce your own contacts as a precautionary measure, self-quarantine and report to your public health department. If you have symptoms, please also inform the public health department. If you are a close contact person, the public health department will put you in quarantine and test you for Corona, if necessary. The testing of contact persons is no longer carried out in all cases; the health department will decide on the procedure in each individual case. You will remain in quarantine for the time being even if you have tested negative, as the result is only momentary.
The quarantine period can be reduced to ten days if the test is negative, if there is no suspicion of a variant of coronavirus of concern and if you are symptom-free. This test may be performed on the tenth day of quarantine at the earliest. Here too, the decision is made by the public health department in each individual case.
You can find more information on tracking contacts in diagnostics at the Robert Koch Institute.
The districts of Berlin have issued general quarantine rules. There you can also find regulations for the shortening of the quarantine. More information can be found under the heading quarantine rules of the districts.
The time symptoms take to appear varies greatly. There are some people who have been infected with corona, who have no symptoms at all. It is possible that symptoms may still develop up to 14 days after infection. More often, however, the symptoms appear earlyier after infection, on average between 5-6 days.
A doctor decides whether a PCR test or a rapid antigen test is to be taken in the case of a suspected coronavirus infection. In general, if the rapid test is positive, a PCR confirmation test is required to confirm the positive result.
In addition, there are other ways to check your own infection status:
- You can purchase rapid tests approved for self-testing from online retailers or discount stores.
- You can have yourself tested free of charge once a week at publicly authorized testing centers. Testing centers in Berlin can be found here: test-to-go.berlin
- You can get tested at private testing centers for a fee.
The result says that you were negative at the time of the test. But this is only momentary. It cannot be ruled out that you will be tested positive at a later date because, if you have been infected, the viral load in your body will have increased. Your quarantine can be ended after ten days at the earliest if you are symptom-free, there is no suspicion of a variant of coronavirus of concern. For this, the person concerned must present a negative test that was carried out on the tenth day of quarantine at the earliest. Here too, the health department decides in each individual case.
If you have a positive test result, you are required by the German Infection Protection Act to isolate yourself at home. If possible, avoid contact there as well if you live together with other people. Inform those with whom you had close contact two days before the onset of symptoms and afterwards. You must also report any close contact to your local health department. As a rule, only those close contacts you had two days before the onset of symptoms and afterwards are recorded. You will make the work of the health department easier if you provide the full name, phone number and e-mail or postal address of the contacts. It is recommended that you provide at least the postcode so that the relevant health department can be contacted.
When you will be freed from quarantine depends on the course of your illness. In the case of a mild form of the disease, the RKI stipulates that you can be discharged at the earliest after 48 hours without symptoms and no sooner than 10 days after the onset of symptoms, whereas loss of taste and smell are not quarantine-prolonging symptoms because they usually last longer.
The districts of Berlin have issued general quarantine rules. More information can be found under the heading quarantine rules of the districts.
No one knows exactly. It is currently assumed that you are highly infectious one or two days before the onset of symptoms and that you can be infectious until at least ten days after the onset of symptoms. However, when the time when symptoms appear after infection varies greatly and can last up to 14 days. If people experience a severe form of the disease, they may be infectious for longer.
For persons who have tested positive but who are not sure when they became infected, the day of testing is taken as the reference day and the period lasting from two days before testing to ten days after is taken as the possible time of infection. In symptom-free individuals who have tested positive and know when they were infected, the reference point for the infectious period is the third day after this contact.
In the case of a corona infection, a certificate of incapacity to work is issued by the doctor and must be sent to your employer. In the case of a positive test without any symptoms orand signs of the disease, the quarantine will be ordered by the relevant health department and your certificate must also be submitted to your employer.
Yes, even if you have already been infected with the coronavirus before, as a close contact person you will usually have to quarantine again in the following situations:
- Your previous infection was more than three months ago, or
- There is a suspicion of infection with a virus variant of concern (except B.1.1.7).
If you regularly have close contact with persons at risk, for example as a carer, and this occurs, you should in any case stop having contact with the persons at risk for 14 days.
According to the Corona Test Ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Health, persons who have already tested positive are not entitled to take a second free test. However, if symptoms reappear after a Corona infection, indicating a possible Corona reinfection, your doctor will decide whether a new PCR test is necessary. Contact persons of persons who have tested positive can have a second test after a first test. Persons who have tested positive and are currently not in quarantine can also get another PCR test on their own initiative in a recognized testing facility if they pay for the test themselves.
Coronavirus and mutations
The coronavirus – also known as SARS-CoV-2 – causes COVID-19 disease and can infect both animals and humans. The symptoms caused by the virus may range in severity from a sore throat to a mild cold to a severe respiratory ailment. Not everyone who is infected will develop symptoms. There is currently no complete consensus among researchers on the symptoms. According to the Robert Koch Institute, frequent symptoms found in conjunction with a coronavirus infection are a cough, fever, a runny nose, loss of the sense of taste and/or smell as well as respiratory problems..
Charité Berlin has developed a browser-based coronavirus app that will help you decide whether or not your symptoms indicate a coronavirus infection, before you call a screening center.
Mutations are changes in the genetic material of the coronavirus. They are a completely natural and common process that occurs constantly during virus replication. As a result, over time, many different variants of the virus come into existence. Viral mutations can become dangerous when they give rise to or cause:
- more severe course of the disease after viral infection,
- higher transmissibility, i.e. the easier spread of the virus,
- impaired immune response, i.e. greater likelihood of reinfection after recovery from infection or after vaccination.
For more information and recommendations on the new SARS-CoV-2 virus variants please visit the Robert Koch Institute site.
Two variants of concern of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in Berlin: B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and the mutation B.1.351 notified initially by South Africa. B.1.1.7. is now the dominant variant in Berlin (as well as in Germany as a whole and many other countries). Higher transmissibility was detected in the case of B.1.1.7and there are indications that the disease follows a more severe course. Variant B.1.351 is also thought to have a higher rate of transmissibility. The rate of spread of these and other virus variants is also being monitored by laboratories in Berlin.
For more information and recommendations on the new SARS-CoV-2 virus variants please visit the Robert Koch Institute site.
In order to detect the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 variants in the population, special laboratory tests are used to regularly analyze a number of PCR-positive samples for changes in viral genetic material. Whole genome sequencing is a very complex procedure that allows the identification of already known viral variants as well as the detection of new mutations.
Variant-specific PCR testing can identify already known viral mutations more quickly and easily. The federal Coronavirus Testing Ordinance and Coronavirus Surveillance Ordinance provide the legal framework supporting these procedures. The Senate Department for Health and the health departments are in close contact with the Berlin laboratories to monitor the incidence of infection.
Follow the general recommendations for hygiene that also apply to influenza viruses, for instance:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Do not sneeze or cough into your hands; rather, cover your mouth with the crook of your arm
- Try not to touch your face with your hands
- Avoid shaking hands
- Maintain distance to anyone who is ill
- Air rooms frequently
Also try to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from other people. If you cannot do this, please wear a mask. FFP2 masks offer special protection when used correctly.
It is also recommended to keep your own contact diary.
If you are in quarantine in your own home because of a confirmed or suspected coronavirus case, please comply with the Federal Ministry of the Environment’s guidelines on the safe disposal of waste.
If you test positive for corona, your own individual contact diary will help you to easily keep track of the people you have been in contact with in the past few days. This means that contacts can be quickly traced and you don’t forget who you’ve been in contact with. You also help the health authorities.
You should make a note of contact with people that are out of the ordinary – not dinner with your family but dinner with someone else. Make a note of the date, the contact/s, the place, the approximate time and duration of the time spent together, the situation, as well as room-specific and protection and hygiene conditions (indoors with a mask, indoors without a mask or outdoors without a mask). It is also advisable to note whether the room was rather crowded or whether social distancing was possible.
You can use the federal government’s Corona warning app, your smartphone or simply a blank sheet of paper for your contact diary.
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