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: 6 August 2020

General rules, sports, and housing

Yes, the contact restrictions have been lifted. However, we are still urging people to limit their contacts as much as possible. That means that the obligation to reduce physical social contacts to an absolute minimum is now a recommendation. In addition, you are still required to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters to other people, as far as circumstances permit. 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 with whom you live in the same household, are in a marriage or civil partnership, or to whom you have custody or access rights. It also does not apply to people who are dying or are critically ill.

The lifting of the contact restrictions applies to individual contacts, but 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.

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Events are still subject to restrictions on the maximum number of participants; these are being relaxed incrementally as follows:

  • Until the end of the day on July 31: no more than 300 people at the same time
  • Until the end of the day on August 31: no more than 500 people at the same time
  • Until September 30: no more than 750 people at the same time
  • Until October 24: no more than 1000 people at the same time
For outdoor events:
  • Until the end of the day on August 31: no more than 1000 people at the same time
  • Until the end of the day on October 24: no more than 5000 people at the same time

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. The easing of restrictions described here will take place on schedule only if the infection rate permits.

Dances held indoors and the provision of sexual services are still prohibited. Public events held in state-supported theaters are not permitted until the end of the day on July 31, but events may take place outdoors on the grounds of the theater.

Assemblies, such as demonstrations or rallies, may take place with no limit on the number of participants. 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. Organizers must ensure that participants wear masks or otherwise cover their nose and mouth and that there is no chanting during the event.

Private and family assemblies and gatherings are also permitted. If your event is held indoors with more than 20 people, however, you must keep a record of those present so they can be contacted if an infection is later confirmed. You do not need to draft a hygiene and protection plan for a private or family gathering.

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Along with drafting a hygiene and protection plan, the responsible parties – such as event organizers – must keep a record of those who participated or attended if indoor premises are involved. That makes it possible to 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, address or email address, time present at the event, and, if relevant, the seat or table number (for instance, at a restaurant).

You can find the provisions for documenting attendance in the ordinance under §3.

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In certain situations, people are required to wear a mask or otherwise cover their nose and mouth. This is especially important in enclosed spaces and in situations in which it is difficult to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters to other people.

On public transport, at train stations, bus and tram stops, and airports, on ferries, in ferry terminals, and when visiting retail stores, you are required to wear a mask or other covering over your mouth and nose. In addition, a mask or other covering over the mouth and nose must be worn in restaurants, in hairdressing salons, and in doctors’ offices. The complete list of all areas in which a mask is required can be found in the Infection Protection Ordinance under §4.

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

You can make your own “community mask” or buy one. If you do not have one, 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.

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In general, sports are permitted, as long as the sport is non-contact and the minimum distance to others can be maintained. The operator of the facility must draft a hygiene and protection plan that lays out the minimum space required per person in square meters and, in the case of an indoor facility, must keep a record of those present in case an infection is confirmed later. You must wear a mask in fitness studios except when actually exercising.

In line with the Infection Protection Ordinance of July 21, contact sports are permitted again under certain conditions, as long as contact is absolutely necessary to playing the sport in question.

Group and team sports are permitted again 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 again.
Canoeing, sailing, and rowing may be practiced again. This does not apply to dragon boats.

A record of those who were present must always be kept in the case of contact sports, 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.

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 28 February 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.

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Competitions in non-contact sports are permitted as long as they comply with the usage and hygiene plan developed by the relevant sports association. Starting on August 21, the same will apply to competitions in other sports.

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Competitions will be permitted starting on August 21, and on August 15 for supraregional sports leagues.

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Starting on August 21, you can go to a stadium. 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, as with other events, a record must be kept of those who were present.

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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.

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The Senate will ensure that for the time being, municipal housing associations and berlinovo will come up with individual, fair solutions for tenants who fall behind in their rent, will not send eviction notices for failure to pay rent, and will not forcibly evict people from apartments in which they are still living. The same applies to commercial rentals. The Senate is also appealing to all landlords of privately owned properties in Berlin to do the same.
In addition, the Senate will do whatever it can to have all court eviction orders for housing suspended for the time being, and to get the utility companies to refrain from shutting off power or gas to its customers during the coronavirus crisis.

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The Berlin Senate is ensuring that you have the opportunity to protect yourself from infection and that you can take shelter. That is why the Senate decided in March 2020, as part of its responsibility for the city as a whole, to make all-day services available to homeless people for as long as the pandemic lasts. Full-day accommodations in 24-hour operation for several hundred people are now available, including medical and psychological care by experienced social workers as well as drug and alcohol counseling.

These accommodations are available for this purpose:

  • The former “Kältehilfe” facility at Storkower Straße 133a, 10407 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg), with accommodations for approx. 100 people
  • Wohnheim Lehrter 24/7, Lehrter Strasse 68, 10555 Berlin, with accommodations for approx. 110 people, including women and people in wheelchairs (operated by the Berlin City Mission)

The Berlin City Mission has set up a quarantine station for homeless people at Lehrter Strasse 68. Other aid organizations are also offering urgently needed assistance for homeless people. Neighborhood groups are providing quick assistance in their own areas in the form of, for instance, “gift fences” on which they hang bags of food, clothing, and toiletries that homeless people can take.

If you have questions, please contact one of the many social organizations in the city that help take care of homeless people in Berlin. You can find a current list of facilities that are still open for emergency overnight accommodation and of current soup kitchens here: www.kaeltehilfe-berlin.de

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Work and businesses

The Infection Protection Ordinance lists only the businesses that are still prohibited. However, many of the types of businesses that are allowed to open must have a hygiene and protection plan in place. In drafting this plan, the business owner must take the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute and the guidelines of the relevant occupational safety agencies into account.

For retail outlets, there is a square-meter restriction per person; access is limited so that minimum distances can be maintained as far as possible even after the premises are entered. The guideline is that only one person is allowed per 10 m² of sales area and business premises. That applies to both customers and employees. In stores that are smaller than 10 m², only one person is allowed to shop in the store at any given time. When you go shopping, you are required to wear a mask or otherwise cover your mouth and nose.

Indoor clubs are still prohibited, and sexual services involving physical contact may not be offered.

Dry saunas (where no water is poured over heated rocks) may reopen, but other saunas, steam baths, and similar establishments must remain closed.

No events or performances may take place in state-supported theaters before the end of July.

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The Berlin Senate has set up a protective shield for companies and jobs in Berlin. Its measures include:

  • Compensation
    If someone has been prohibited from working or sent into quarantine, compensation for loss of earnings will be paid in line with the Protection against Infection Act.
  • Tax breaks
    The Tax Offices are taking an accommodating and unbureaucratic approach to reducing the amount of estimated tax that is due. That gives companies that have been hit by the crisis immediate liquidity at no charge. In addition, businesses experiencing a liquidity squeeze can apply to have payment deferred on the taxes they already owe. In some cases, these deferred payments may be interest-free.
  • Quick guarantees
    The maximum amount for guarantees from the guarantee bank has been doubled to €2.5 million. Within three days, the guarantee bank can make a decision on its own on guarantees of up to €250,000. Loans for operating funds can also be guaranteed for up to 80%.
    With its program for larger guarantees (Großbürgschaftsprogramm), which start at €20 million, the federal government can secure up to 90% of loans for operating funds and investment.
  • Liquidity assistance
    With liquidity assistance, Berlin has an established instrument used to help small and medium-sized businesses that need short-term liquidity support in the form of interest-free loans because of loss of receivables and a temporary drop in sales.
  • Grants
    The Berlin Senate has set up the Emergency Aid V program for small and medium-sized companies in Berlin (those that have more than 10 and up to 100 employees) that have no access to loans from the KfW or other federal programs. Since May 18, 2020, these businesses have been able to apply to the Investitionsbank Berlin for grants under this program.

The federal government has also activated comprehensive measures aimed at providing relief to businesses, including applying for government aid to keep staff on the payroll while cutting their working hours (Kurzarbeit).

The Senate Department for Culture and Europe has put together information for artists, culture professionals, and the creative industries.

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The Berlin Senate plans to continue and to expand emergency assistance to mitigate the negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, the focus in the first phase was on assisting Berlin’s economy quickly and with a minimum of bureaucracy. In this phase, a number of emergency aid programs were initiated and aid was paid out to Berlin companies and self-employed persons. Around 360,000 jobs were secured that way. In a second phase, assistance was tailored to meet the specific needs of Berlin’s economy in order to equip it to deal with the period after the coronavirus crisis. The total funding provided under these programs was around €1.8 billion.

The federal state of Berlin intends to supplement the federal government’s emergency aid programs in a targeted way that addresses the capital’s specific economic situation. The federal government is making emergency aid available for June, July, and August and has opened it up to small and medium-sized companies with more than 10 employees.

The Berlin Senate has approved a number of programs and measures to allocate this assistance and boost the economy. These include a digital bonus for small and medium-sized companies, support for startups, grant programs for the arts and cultural sector, and the continuation and expansion of the Emergency Aid IV program for media and cultural enterprises that is intended to meet their particular needs starting in September.

The Emergency Aid V program is still active, allowing small and medium-sized companies to apply online to the IBB for grants if they do not have access to loans from the KfW or other federal programs.

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You can find comprehensive information on applying for basic income support (Arbeitslosengeld II) on the website of the Federal Employment Agency.

Information for employees on the continued payment of wages (Entgeltfortzahlung) and on short-time compensation (Kurzarbeitergeld) is available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

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The liquidity problems that result when customer orders are cancelled or businesses are required by the authorities to close are not considered a reason to end a vocational training contract. This is regulated by the conditions of the vocational training contract. The employers providing the training must ensure that apprentices have the opportunity to learn the occupation for which they are being trained (§ 14 (1) 1 BBiG).

Only if economic difficulties mean that no one is left to provide the training and the apprentice therefore no longer has the opportunity to learn, if the company shuts down permanently, or if the apprentice can no longer be paid do both parties have the right to terminate the vocational training contract without notice (§ 22 (2) 1 BBiG).

In addition, apprentices may not be forced to take vacation time. Vacation time must be requested by the apprentice and may usually not be mandated by the employer against the apprentice’s will. That also applies to any overtime hours they may have accrued. Apprentices themselves or the company’s employee representative can reach an agreement with the management on a case-by-case basis. Employers do have the authority to mandate company vacation time, but not just for apprentices. Rather, it has to apply to everyone.

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If there is reason to believe that one of your employees could be infected, you should contact the relevant health office immediately, regardless of the symptoms. The health office may send the person in question into quarantine.

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According to the Protection against Infection Act, employees have a right to compensation equal to the full amount of their wages for up to six weeks. Employers can apply to the Senate Department for Finance to have this compensation reimbursed, as long as the quarantine or the prohibition against working was mandated by one of Berlin’s health offices. If the quarantine lasts longer than six weeks, employees must apply to the Senate Department for Finance themselves for compensation.

People who are self-employed are also entitled to compensation for the loss of earnings. It is calculated for each month at one-twelfth of their usual annual earnings (§15 SGB IV).

Here, too, the person in question must have been prohibited from working by a Berlin health office.

The application for compensation can be accessed and submitted online on the Service Portal Berlin. Employers can obtain the digital application form here
and self-employed persons can obtain it here.

The Senate Department for Finance provides information on important prerequisites and applications for compensation.

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There is no legal entitlement to working from home. However, there may be a provision on this option in your company agreement or collective labor agreement. In any case, it would be worth your while to speak to your company about it.

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Employers have a “duty of care” towards their employees. That applies to those who are sick as well as to those who are still healthy. If an employee is sent home as a precautionary measure, the employee has a right to continued payment of wages. If the employee is sick, their wages must be paid for up to six weeks.

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Schools and higher education

After the summer vacation, all Berlin schools are to start the new school year again in regular operation starting on August 10, insofar as the number of new coronavirus infections allows this. Extracurricular and supplementary tutoring and supervision is also to be fully resumed.

In addition, summer school is being offered during this summer vacation. Attendance is voluntary and is intended for those whose learning was disadvantaged during the coronavirus pandemic. In small groups in summer school, students from grades 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 can fill in gaps in their learning in the core subjects of German, English, and mathematics. The relevant materials will be provided.

School trips within Germany and abroad may be booked and carried out again after the summer vacation. This does not apply to trips to high-risk areas as designated by the Robert Koch Institute or Germany’s Foreign Office. Supplementary supervision will also be offered again.

In addition, ceremonies celebrating the start of first grade can take place, but the Infection Protection Ordinance’s rules for public events will apply.

The Senate Department for Education, Youth and Families has further information on key aspects related to the reopening of schools.

The Senate Department for Education, Youth and Families has also set up a hotline you can call if you have questions about summer school. The hotline is open Mondays to Fridays between 9 a.m. and 12 noon at +49 (0)30 902299-220 or +49 (0)30 902299-228.

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Yes. By June 22, all of Berlin’s daycare centers (Kitas) should have resumed regular operation. If you have any questions, please contact the director of your daycare center about the arrangements that have been made there.

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A combination of online teaching and classroom teaching is planned for the upcoming semester, insofar as the infection rate permits this. The extent of classroom teaching will vary at colleges and universities depending on the subject of study. The institutions will give their communities the necessary information as soon as possible. As usual, the lecture period for most students will start at the beginning of October. The first-year students will not start until November 2.

Teaching at public, private, and denominationally affiliated institutions of higher education in Berlin will generally take place using online formats until September 30. Examinations requiring attendance and practical exercises that require access to a given institution are permitted as long as the hygiene and distancing rules are observed. In line with their proprietary powers and right to issue instructions, universities may allow research and administrative activities to take place. Academic libraries are allowed to open. Here, too, the colleges and universities will provide information on access to these.

Cafeterias at colleges and universities can open in order to offer food and beverages for takeaway. Here, too, hygiene and social distancing rules must be observed. On this basis, Studierendenwerk Berlin is preparing a trial operation that allows orders to be placed at five of its facilities. You can find out on the Studierendenwerk Berlin website which of its 55 facilities is offering pick-up service.

Non-university research institutions may continue their operations, subject to the hygiene rules.

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’s page.

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Asylum

Can I still submit an application for asylum in the current situation?
Yes, it is still possible to submit applications for asylum. However, in most cases, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is currently accepting the applications that were previously submitted in person (with “Formularanträge”) only in writing.

First, however, you need to be registered at the arrival center in Berlin, which is where you will also be given an initial medical exam. You may also be tested for coronavirus there.

All of the forms you need to file an application for asylum will be given to you at the arrival center. After your application has been filled out, it will be sent to the BAMF with a copy of your proof of arrival (Ankunftsnachweis). The BAMF will review and process your application and will send you their decision by mail.

You can find more information at:

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The health office will put you under quarantine at the initial reception center. Everyone who has COVID-19 or is a close contact of someone who has it will be put under quarantine. That means that you cannot leave your accommodation or your apartment for 14 days, and you cannot have any direct contact to anyone outside your accommodation or your apartment. Anyone who violates the quarantine restrictions faces penalties.

The State Office for Refugee Affairs (LAF) provides information in several languages on information sheets, podcasts, and its own FAQ on protecting against infection in refugee accommodations.

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No one can be deported because of a coronavirus infection. Because containment measures are being relaxed, the borders are being reopened, and flights are being resumed, enforceable deportations have been taking place since May 30 to countries that have been significantly less affected by the coronavirus pandemic than Germany and that make it possible to take the appropriate measures. Starting on June 15, potential deportations were generally resumed. However, being infected with the coronavirus is not grounds for deportation.

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Classroom teaching for integration and language classes was suspended because of the pandemic and can now be resumed. The suspension of classes will not count as an absence for you, and there will be no penalties.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) recommends a number of online language classes that you can also do.

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Traffic, travel, mobility

You are required to wear a mask or otherwise cover your mouth and nose when taking public transportation. There will be spot checks to ensure that people are complying, similar to the inspections that are done to ensure everyone has a ticket. According to the Infection Protection Ordinance, wearing a mask is mandatory on public transportation. If you do not comply, you can be fined €50 to €500. 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.

You can find the full text of the section on covering the mouth and nose in the ordinance under §4.

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That depends on the rate of infections both in Germany and abroad. If you are planning to travel to another German state, you should check their requirements online before going. You will also find information on the rules in place in the individual German states in their ordinances and general regulations.

If you are planning a private trip abroad, please take note of the existing travel warning of Germany’s federal government for unnecessary trips for reasons of tourism, which has been extended until the end of August for countries outside the EU. In general, only travel advisories have been in place for EU member states and for the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein since June 15. 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 Germany’s Foreign Office.

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

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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. The current list includes individual parts of the United States, Turkey, and Albania, along with many other countries. 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. This also applies to high-risk areas in Germany.

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.

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If you are coming from a high-risk area and arriving in Berlin by air, land, or water, you are obliged to make your way directly to your apartment or accommodations and to stay there in home quarantine for a period of 14 days after your arrival. This also applies if you enter from a non-risk area but have been in a designated high-risk area in the past 14 days. The duty to go into quarantine also applies if you first entered another state of the Federal Republic of Germany but were previously in a high-risk area. You can also be tested when you arrive at the Tegel and Schönefeld airports, as well as at the central bus station (ZOB), but you will have to go into quarantine until you have the test results.

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.

As a rule, those entering from an EU member state or from the Schengen area are not required to go into quarantine. That also applies to people arriving in Berlin from countries for which the Robert Koch Institute has determined that the risk of infection for the individual appears to be low due to the level of infection in the respective country. That country is then not classified as a high-risk area.

Those entering Berlin who are subject to the quarantine requirement must report to the responsible borough health office. If they also have symptoms that suggest coronavirus infection, they must report this suspicion as well. They are not permitted to receive visitors who do not live in the apartment.

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.

Those entering the country also have the option to ask the health office for an exemption from the duty to go into quarantine. Anyone who has been tested for coronavirus infection in an EU member state or another country designated by the RKI before entering Berlin and who has a negative test result is also exempted from the duty to enter quarantine; however, the test must have been conducted within the last 48 hours. It is also possible to be subsequently tested and to terminate the quarantine if the result is negative.
(Link hinzufügen)

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

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Yes. People who were in a high-risk area in Germany at any point within the 14 days before they entered Berlin are now required to go into quarantine. They must proceed directly to their accommodations and then stay there for 14 days. As with people entering from abroad, this also applies to those who traveled to Berlin via another federal state after leaving the high-risk area. These people must contact the borough health office as soon as possible and must also report any symptoms they may have.

People who are just traveling through Berlin on their way to somewhere else are exempt from this requirement, as are those who can show a current laboratory test result confirming that they are not infected with the coronavirus.

The classification of high-risk areas within Germany is done by the Senate Department for Health in consultation with the Senate Chancellery, and the Senate Department for Health publishes the current list. The Dingolfing-Landau area is currently considered a high-risk area (since July 29, 2020), as defined by §9a of the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Ordinance.

You will also be able to be tested in specialized doctors’ offices.

You can find the quarantine provisions for high-risk areas in Germany in the Infection Protection Ordinance under §9a.

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The German federal government’s existing travel warning for countries outside the EU has been extended until the end of August. As a rule, only travel advisories have been in place for EU member states and for Switzerland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Liechtenstein since June 15. If you are planning a trip abroad, you should find out in advance what entry regulations apply in your host country. You can obtain more information from Germany’s Foreign Office.

More information for the individual EU member states is available on the Re-Open EU website.

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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.

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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.

Berlin’s testing strategy started with tests in educational institutions, where it has two components:

  • Since the beginning of June, asymptomatic people employed in the initial 48 selected educational institutions have been able to get a test at the Charité after making an appointment.
  • Since the end of June, asymptomatic people working in any daycare center have been able to get a test after making an appointment.
  • The one-year Berlin coronavirus school study (BECOSS) was started at the same time. This study sent mobile testing teams from the Charité to 24 randomly selected elementary and secondary schools, where they carried out tests on-site.

This step-by-step approach is intended to draw on scientific expertise as the schools gradually return to normal operations and to identify potential risks. These efforts are generating data that can be used for an epidemiological evaluation of the current situation and for future plans.

Along with educational institutions, testing options for nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants, transport companies, cultural institutions, and other facilities, such as Berlin’s airports, are currently being prepared. The Charité is responsible for devising the testing strategy, while the Senate Departments and the public health offices are working together to put it into practice. The testing strategy is being coordinated in a steering group and its implementation is being planned by various working groups with the involvement of Senate Departments, experts from the Charité and Vivantes, public health officers, borough health offices, and other stakeholders.

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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.
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In the current situation and in line with changes to the criteria by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Senate Department for Health recommends that you be evaluated if you have even mild symptoms, such as a cough or a sore throat. Even in such cases, getting tested makes sense. In addition, it is recommended that you get tested if

  • … you had contact within the last 14 days with someone who has a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 and you have any symptoms that are consistent with a case of COVID-19, or
  • … you have a respiratory disease, no matter how severe, and/or if you have lost your sense of smell and/or taste, or
  • … you work or live in a place in which there is a high incidence of respiratory infections and you have contracted a viral respiratory infection (e.g., in a nursing home or hospital).

Even before you have any 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 in contact with others.

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.

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.

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If you have symptoms or you suspect that you could be infected with the coronavirus, you should follow the guidelines given in the previous FAQ, “Who should get tested for a coronavirus infection?” 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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