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: October 10, 2020

General rules, sports, and leisure activities

We are still urging people to limit their social contacts as much as possible.From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following restriction applies with immediate effect: only five persons or two households may spend time together outdoors. Private gatherings with a maximum of ten people may meet in enclosed spaces while up to 50 people can gather outdoors. In addition, the minimum distance of 1.5 meters from other people must be maintained. This also applies to events and private gatherings.
In some situations – for example, for those who are providing nursing care – maintaining distance would not be possible and is therefore not required. As in the past, the minimum distance rule does not apply to people you live with in the same household, are in a marriage or civil partnership with, or to whom you have custody or access rights. It also does not apply to people who are dying or are critically ill.
Events are still required to limit the number of participants, and the number of customers permitted in stores and participants playing sports or engaging in other leisure activities is still being regulated. The responsible parties must draft a hygiene and protection plan showing how they are protecting their audiences or participants from infection. This plan should take into account the infection control recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute and the guidelines of the relevant occupational safety agencies. Signs listing the hygiene and distancing rules must be visibly posted on the premises.

collapse

All restaurants, bars, cafés and sales outlets in Berlin must close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The reduction of opening hours is intended to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. During this period there will also be a further restriction on private meetings outdoors. A maximum of five people or two households will be allowed to meet outside during this period. Only up to ten people are allowed to meet privately in enclosed spaces.

collapse

A mask is required in certain enclosed spaces. This is especially important in situations in which it is difficult to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters to others, because there is an increased risk of infection in such cases.

The requirement to wear a mask applies in office and administrative buildings and in elevators. If you are at your normal workplace and the minimum distance is maintained, you can take off the mask.

You are also required to wear a mask or other face covering over your nose and mouth on public transport, at train stations, bus and tram stops, and airports, on ferries, in ferry terminals, and when visiting retail stores. In addition, they must be worn in restaurants, in hairdressing salons, and in doctors’ offices.

Covering your nose and mouth is now required at protests with more than 100 participants. Even if there are fewer participants, masks are required if, for instance, there is any chanting at the protest.

The complete list of all areas in which a mask is required can be found in the Infection Protection Ordinance under §4.

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.If you do not comply with this requirement, you can be fined €50 to €500.

If you do not have a mask, you can cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or shawl. Children who are age six and under and people who cannot wear a mask due to a disability (such as a hearing impairment) or a health impairment are exempt from this obligation.

Information on how masks should be worn and cleaned and on the difference between community masks and medical masks is available on the website of the Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung.

collapse

Every large gathering holds the 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. Organizers are required to have a 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.

collapse

Events are still subject to restrictions on the maximum number of participants who may be present at the same time:

For indoor events:
  • For private events: no more than 10 people
  • For all other events: no more than 1,000 people
For outdoor events:
  • For private events: no more than 50 people
  • For all other events: no more than 5,000 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.

Assemblies, such as protests or rallies, may take place with no limit on the number of participants. If more than 100 people take part, they must wear a face covering over the nose and mouth. This requirement applies to smaller groups as well if there is any chanting. The respective organizers of the assemblies are 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.

collapse

For private events and meetings in enclosed spaces, only 10 people may be present at the same time, wheras up to 50 people can meet outdoors. If there are more than 10 people getting together outside you must keep a record of those at your private gathering so they can be contacted if an infection is later confirmed. If more than 20 people are present, you must also 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, for instance, are not members of your household.

collapse

The responsible parties – such as event organizers – must keep a record of those who participated or attended. That is currently the case whether the event takes place indoors or outdoors. 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, address or email address, time present at the event, and, if relevant, the seat or table number (for instance, at a restaurant).

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 §3.

collapse

Every sports club and every fitness studio must have a hygiene and protection plan that lays out the minimum space required per person in square meters. In the case of an indoor facility, a record must be kept of those present in case an infection is confirmed later. You must also wear a mask in fitness studios except when actually exercising.

In the case of contact sports, a record must be kept of those who were present even if the activity took place outdoors. The Infection Protection 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.

Group and team sports are permitted for fixed training groups of up to 30 people, including coaches.

Up to four people, not including coaches and other support staff, may practice martial arts and combat sports in fixed groups. The total number of training groups allowed to practice at the facility at any one time depends on the size of the facility.

Dance and other sports with a fixed partner are permitted.

Canoeing, sailing, and rowing may be practiced. This does not apply to dragon boats.

Financial assistance will be offered to non-profit sports clubs, and Berlin’s state sports federation (Landessportbund Berlin) will handle the organizational aspects of this assistance. You will find applications online on the website of the Landessportbund. This offer will be available until February 28, 2021. Only sports clubs whose financial difficulties are demonstrably due to the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible for assistance. The Senate will be funding this program with €8 million.

collapse

Yes, that is generally permitted. The restrictions on the maximum number of people allowed into sporting events are the same as for other events. The organizers must draft a hygiene and protection plan and be able to submit it to the relevant Senate Department. As with other events, a record must be kept of those who were present.

collapse

Under §7 (1) of the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Ordinance, dances – even with fixed partners – that take place indoors are prohibited. This does not apply to dancing done as a sport as defined by the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Ordinance, which includes dance classes and similar activities; these are permitted for fixed partners. This type of activity is usually of limited duration and involves a limited number of people, ensuring that hygiene and protection rules can be observed and enforced. As a result, there is a lower risk of infection than in the case of dances held indoors in bars or clubs.

collapse

Yes, as long as the organizer has a hygiene and distancing plan in place showing how the participants are to be protected from infection. Dances are still not allowed indoors. The individual organizers are responsible for drafting and enforcing the protection plan. If any indoor premises are used for the event – although no dancing may take place in them – a record must be kept of those attending the event. The limits on the number of participants allowed at outdoor events must also be observed.

collapse

Indoor parties in clubs are defined as dances and, as such, are prohibited under §7 (1) of the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Ordinance. This ban is intended to protect the people of Berlin from being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It is based on recognition that because of the way they operate, clubs and similar venues – as long as the premises are indoors – are conducive to higher rates of infection: in clubs you have many people congregating in a limited space to dance, a physical activity that generates higher levels of aerosols than many other activities. High levels of aerosols can lead to a COVID-19 infection, especially since it would be difficult in this setting to ensure compliance with hygiene and protection rules.

collapse

Schools and higher education

After the autumn vacations, a stage- plan will apply in Berlin schools, which orients itself on the Berlin Corona traffic light system. The stage- plan shows which measures are to be taken if there is a change in the rate of infection. During the current 2020/2021 school year, Berlin’s schools have so far been operating normally. This applies to regular instruction, remedial education, and half-class lessons, as well as other mandatory school activities and events. A general hygiene plan is in place to regulate conduct in schools for as long as the coronavirus pandemic lasts.This means, among other measures, that masks or other face coverings over the nose and mouth are required when indoors except during class.

The Senate Department for Education, Youth and Families has comprehensive information on the normal operation of schools and daycare centers (Kitas).

collapse

The public, private, and denominationally affiliated institutions of higher education in Berlin are required to comply with the applicable provisions of the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Ordinance, in particular, the provisions on hygiene protocols and documenting attendance at events.

A combination of online teaching and classroom teaching is planned for the winter semester, insofar as the infection rate permits this. In order for universities to be able to react to the dynamic infection situation with the appropriate measures, there is an area-specific stage- plan for this semester. In the winter semester, the lecture period for students at universities of applied sciences who are in their second semester or higher will start on October 1, 2020, while students in their first semester at universities of applied sciences will not start until November 2, 2020. The lecture period at universities will also commence on November 2, 2020.

You can find current information on the measures being taken to fight the spread of the coronavirus on the Senate Chancellery – Higher Education and Research page.

collapse

Traffic, travel, quarantine

You are required to wear a mask or otherwise cover your mouth and nose when taking public transportation, as well as in other situations. The federal government and the governments of the federal states (apart from the state of Saxony Anhalt) have decided to harmonize their rules on wearing face coverings in certain public situations. If you do not comply, 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 section on covering the mouth and nose in the ordinance under §4.

collapse

This depends on the rate of infection both in Germany and abroad. Before traveling, you should check the pandemic situation at your destination, as well as the area’s corona measures. For Germany, the Federal Government has set up an information page on the currently valid rules and regulations regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are planning a private trip abroad, please check if the country you are planning to travel to is a risk area. If this is the case, you will have to go into domestic quarantine after returning home. You should find out in advance what entry regulations and what measures apply in your host country regarding COVID-19 containment. You can obtain more information from the Foreign Office.

You can also visit the EU website Re-Open EU to find out about the rules for entering EU member states.

collapse

Germany’s federal government is constantly examining which countries are to be classified as high-risk areas, that is, where the risk of infection with the coronavirus is high. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) publishes a list of high-risk areas, which is constantly updated. If you enter Berlin from a high-risk area directly or via another area or another German state, you should plan on being subjected to a 14-day quarantine.

If you would like to obtain further information about the current number of cases, RKI uses an interactive dashboard to show what is happening in the German states in regard to infection rates.

The WHO and Johns Hopkins University also have interactive websites that offer information about the global spread of the coronavirus.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) provides details on the number of cases in Europe.

collapse

If you have been in a high-risk area in the last 14 days before entering Berlin, you must, as a matter of principle, notify your local health office and self-isolate at home for 14 days. You may also use the disembarkation card to notify the health office. You must get tested if your local health office asks you to do so.

If you arrive from a high-risk area and show no symptoms, you can get tested directly at one of the testing locations at the Tegel and Schönefeld airports, at the central train station, and at the central bus station (ZOB). You can also be tested at selected doctor’s offices, but only by appointment. You will have to go into quarantine until you have the test results. The test is free, provided it is done within 72 hours of your arrival. Returning travelers who show symptoms must immediately notify their local health office and go into quarantine.

Travelers returning from a high-risk area who can produce a medical certificate in German or English showing a negative test result that is not more than 48 hours old currently do not have to self-isolate. The medical certificate must be submitted without delay to your local health office at the latter’s request, and at the latest, 72 hours after arrival.

The term “high-risk area” refers to a country or region outside Germany for which there is an increased risk of coronavirus infection at the time of entry into Germany. The classification of high-risk areas is carried out by Germany’s federal government, namely, by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office, and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and is published by the Robert Koch Institute.

Those traveling through Berlin on their way to somewhere else do not have to go into quarantine if they leave Berlin without delay and using a direct route.

You can find the precise exceptions in the ordinance in part 3 (quarantine measures) under §9.

collapse

Yes, the testing sites at both airports are still open for the time being. You can find information for returning travelers in the leaflet for returning travelers.

collapse

The quarantine measures in Berlin no longer apply to people entering the city from risk areas within Germany. However, the regulations in the federal states differ. Please find out in advance about the regulations in the federal states.

collapse

Obtain information from your embassy on a regular basis. If you entered the country with a Schengen visa or without a visa, you can find more information on the website of the Berlin Immigration Office.

collapse

Personal responsibility, health, hygiene

The Berlin Senate has adopted a coronavirus testing strategy that uses a coordinated approach throughout Berlin to identify at an early stage people at risk of serious illness from a coronavirus infection and those who would be more likely to spread the disease. The focus here is on health care facilities, nursing homes, schools, and daycare centers, as well as tests in places with high potential for dissemination of the disease, such as restaurants or correctional facilities. A plan developed by the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Vivantes Netzwerk für Gesundheit is the basis for Berlin’s testing strategy, which is aimed at restoring both health and public, social, and economic life in Berlin.

Please check the Charité website for further information on Berlin’s testing strategy.

The objectives and organizational structure of our COVID-19 testing management have been redefined. From now on, all processes will be overseen by the Senate Department for Higher Education and Research, which is in charge of scientific research on the virus and of refining testing procedures and studies, and the Senate Department for Health, which is responsible for the operational side of fighting the pandemic and for the supply structures of Berlin’s public health system.

collapse

In order to evaluate the dynamics of the pandemic in Berlin more precisely and to be able to act accordingly, the Senate has developed a “traffic light” system. To evaluate the impact of lifting the restrictions, indicators have been defined to keep an eye on both the transmission dynamics and the strain placed on the health care system. The reproduction rate, the number of new infections, and the number of beds occupied in the intensive care units are all taken into account. Considered alongside each other, they shed light on the epidemiological situation in a meaningful way.

In several phases, the Senate will gradually ease the restrictions that were imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, provided that the number of infections and hospital capacities permit it.

  • Reproduction rate:
    The reproduction rate (R rate) indicates the number of people infected by each person with COVID-19. A number above 1 leads to a rapid increase in new cases. If the R rate is more than 1.1 for at least three days in a row, the traffic light will turn yellow. If the R rate rises to at least 1.2 for at least three days in a row, the light turns red.
  • Number of new infections per week:
    The Senate has classified the number of new infections as follows: we have reached the red stage if there are 30 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week. Yellow is when there are 20 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week. Green is anything below that.
  • Number of beds occupied in intensive care units:
    If the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in intensive care units rises above 15%, the light turns yellow. If the number is more than 25% of the available beds, the light turns red. Green is anything below 15%.
  • Significance of the “yellow” and “red” stages:
    If two of the three indicators listed above are yellow, the Senate will need to discuss this development and start preparing for possible responses. If two of the three indicators are red, measures will need to be taken and restrictions will have to be reinstituted.
collapse

The Senate Department for Health recommends that you should get tested if

  • … you show symptoms typical of COVID-19, or any other symptoms compatible with acute respiratory diseases
  • … 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)
  • … you work in a hospital, rehab facility, nursing home, etc. and provide care to COVID-19 patients
  • … you work or live in or regularly visit a communal residence or home in which a COVID-19 outbreak has been registered

People who meet these criteria should contact the relevant health office so their case can be evaluated. Based on the criteria of the RKI and the patient’s individual situation, the public health officer (Amtsarzt) will make a decision on how to proceed and on whether the patient should be quarantined at home or needs to be treated in the hospital. If a test is done and you are waiting for the results, please self-isolate at home – initially, for 14 days – and follow the general rules on hygiene.

In the case of those who have acute symptoms and/or clinical signs of a respiratory illness caused by a virus, but who have had no contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, the patient’s doctor will make a decision on how to proceed. 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.

All contacts should be established by telephone first. Direct contact with other people should be avoided.

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.

The Berlin Senate has also approved an updated testing strategy. Throughout Berlin, testing centers are to use a coordinated approach to identifying at an early stage people at risk of serious illness from a coronavirus infection and those who would be more likely to spread the disease. The focus here is on health care facilities, nursing homes, schools, and daycare centers, as well as tests in places with high potential for dissemination of the disease, such as restaurants or correctional facilities.

collapse

If you have symptoms or you suspect that you could be infected with the coronavirus, you should follow the guidelines given under, “Who should get tested?” Your borough health office or your 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 centers

https://www.berlin.de/corona/faq/#faq_1_36
https://www.berlin.de/corona/untersuchungsstellen/index.php/

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 mask covering your mouth and nose when you are in contact with others.

collapse

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 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

In addition, try to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from other people.

When shopping, using public transportation, entering a restaurant, and in many other areas of public life, you are required to wear a mask or otherwise cover your mouth and nose.

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.

collapse

There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus. Current information about the coronavirus indicates that people over 60 and people with chronic illnesses are especially at risk. Two of the most frequent pathogens causing lung infections are pneumococci and pertussis (the latter causes whooping cough).

The Senate Department recommends that everyone in the risk group be vaccinated against pneumococci and pertussis. A lung infected by another pathogen can more easily contract coronavirus – and vice versa. Such a complication would considerably impede treatment and put the patient at special risk.

To avoid this complication, we recommend a pneumococcal and pertussis vaccination for all persons aged 60 and older and persons with underlying medical conditions.

collapse

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 fever, a cough, respiratory problems, and loss of the sense of taste and smell, while a runny nose is less frequent. Diarrhea can also be a symptom, but is even less frequent.

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.

collapse

Coronavirus hotline

The Senate Department for Health, Long-Term Care and Gender Equality set up a hotline to advise Berliners who believe they may have contracted the virus. More information

Governing Mayor about the current situation

On the evening of 16 March 2020, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, gave a televised speech about the current situation in the city which was broadcast by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb). The Press and Information Office of the State of Berlin is publishing the complete text. More information