Coronavirus in Germany: Current Guidelines

Coronavirus in Germany

Updated September 11, 2020.

Covid cases began to spike in Germany last month as summer holiday makers started returning home and schools began to open.

The largest clusters of cases are being seen in North Rhein-Westphalia, Bavaria, and Baden-Württemberg. But even in Berlin, numbers are increasing again, with the Robert Koch Institute reporting 139 new cases yesterday (Sept. 10), bringing the total number to 12,089.

Since the number of weekly new cases is still less than 50 per 100,000 residents, (it’s currently 14.9 according to rbb24), the traffic light in Berlin stays green. Nevertheless, with numbers increasing, it’s important that Berliners continue to follow state regulations.

Here are the new Corona guidelines put into place by the Berlin Senate earlier this month. — Updated September 11, 2020

I live in Berlin. What rules do I need to be aware of?
  • Social Distancing: Keeping a 1.5 meter distance from each other is still required in most situations. Exceptions include public transportation where social distancing (Abstand halten) is not possible.
  • Large group events: Up to 750 people are currently allowed to gather indoors, with the number expected to increase to 1,000 on October 1. Outdoor events may include up to 5,000 people. Participants should wear masks and maintain distance. Organizers must draw up a hygiene plan if attendance is greater than 50, while groups of over 20 must keep an attendance record with contact info
  • Schools: Berlin schools returned to normal in-person instruction on August 10. Teachers and students are required to wear masks and maintain distance. Students in high-risk groups, or with high-risk family members are permitted to stay home if they can provide a note from their doctor. Home learning will be provided for these children. Kitas continue normal operations, which began again on June 22. All children in Berlin schools or Kitas/Kindergartens are eligible for free Coronavirus testing with an appointment at a Charité testing site located at various clinics around the city. More details here: www.berlin.de/corona/massnahmen/schulen-und-kitas/
  • Shopping: From major malls to little boutiques, stores around the city are open for business. The size of the store dictates how many shoppers are allowed in at once time, with one shopper per 10-square-meters being the measure. Masks must be worn and 1.5-meter physical distance must be kept. Weekly farmer’s markets are also up and running.
  • Trains and Buses: Since the end of April, passengers are required to wear a mask on all public transportation in Berlin. Passengers should also do their best to keep their distance from others.
  • Dining Out: Restaurants are open with proper hygiene regulations in place. Tables should be spaced to allow for social distancing. Groups of 6 people (from different households) are permitted to dine together. Guests are asked to leave their contact information for Covid tracking purposes, and required to wear a mask when moving through the space.
  • Tourism:Hotels, inns, B&Bs, and holiday homes in Berlin, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as well as other parts of Germany, re-opened to tourists on May 25. City tours and boat tours also resumed on this date. Campgrounds have opened, as have charter boat rental outfits. Borders are now open between Germany and its neighboring countries, and there are no more border controls in place. However, travelers coming from a high-risk area, are required to report to the authorities and quarantine. Testing stations are in place at Berlin’s airports and Central Train Station. More info here: https://www.berlin.de/corona/massnahmen/einreisen/
  • Swimming pools and lake beaches: Online tickets must be booked for a specific time slot at Berlin’s indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as several lake-side beaches. More info at berlinerbaeder.de.
  • Zoos, gardens, galleries and museums: Several of Berlin’s cultural establishments require online tickets to be booked in advance. Check individual websites for details. For tickets to Berlin zoos: Click here to book tickets for the Zoologischer Garten, and book tickets for the Tierpark here.
  • Playgrounds: Parents are expected to ensure that their children play at an appropriate level of distance from each other and that playgrounds do not get too full.
  • Hair salons: Guests and employees are required to wear a mask while getting their hair done.

See the complete Ordinance on Measures Necessary to Stem the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in Berlin here: https://www.berlin.de/corona/en/measures/directive/

 

Can I still apply for or renew a visa/residence permit in Berlin?

— Updated September 11, 2020

The Berlin Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung) reopened on September 7. Masks must be worn and contactless temperature will be taken upon entry into the building. Check the FAQ page for more details: www.berlin.de

If your visa is expiring in the next 6 weeks, you should still register online.

You can apply online for a visa extension via this form if you meet the following criteria: 

  • Your visa is expired. 
  • Your visa will expire in the next six weeks.
  • You have an appointment at the Berlin Immigration Office. 

Once you’ve submitted the form, be sure to print out the confirmation page. This serves as an extension of your visa if it expires. 

More details can be found on this FAQ page.

And continue to check this page on Berlin.de for any updates as the situation progresses.

 

I am self-employed and losing work because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Am I eligible for state aid?

— Updated April 16, 2020

Germany passed a bill to implement a multi-billion-euro aid package that will help offset the economic hardships that many freelancers and small-businesses anticipate from the Coronavirus crisis. 

Self-employed people affected by the Coronavirus crisis can apply for 6-weeks of full compensation. According to SPIEGEL, freelancers will be eligible for up to €15,000 over a three month period.

The Finanzamt is also doing its part to provide freelancers with some relief by pushing back tax-prepayment due dates, deferring tax payments currently due, and waiving surcharges for late payments. 

Also, any freelancers who have paid into unemployment insurance are eligible to apply for unemployment compensation during the Coronavirus crisis.

Projektwerk has a good article about how self-employed workers can get financial state aid here: www.projektwerk.com

Additionally, Germany’s emergency aid package offers self-employed entrepreneurs and small businesses with up to 5 employees the chance to apply for grants of up to €9,000. Businesses with up to 10 employees are eligible to apply for up to €15,000 in emergency aid. Check the Investitionsbank Berlin website for updates on how to apply: www.ibb.de

 

What are my options for German state aid as a business owner? 

— Updated April 16, 2020

Thanks to a Germany’s emergency aid initiative, small and medium-sized businesses may apply for an interest-free loan of up to €500,000. Companies must have been founded over three years ago. Go here to apply: www.ibb.de

Also, IHK Berlin — Berlin’s Chamber of Commerce, has set up an information hotline where member companies can get advice on managing their business during the pandemic. The hotline number is 030 31510 919, and more information can be found here: www.ihk-berlin.de

 

I’m an employee of a company or institution. Can I still get paid if I can’t work?

— Updated April 16, 2020

If you are employed, but unable to work due to a ban on your work activities or quarantine, you are eligible for compensation under the Infection Protection Act for Bans on Activities and Quarantine (Infektionsschutzgesetz bei Tätigkeitsverboten und Quarantäne). 

Your employer is responsible for paying you up to 6 weeks salary. They will then be reimbursed by the Senate Department for Finance (Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen). 

More info and application downloads here: www.berlin.de

 

Can I travel to Germany? 

— Updated September 11, 2020

Germany has implemented several travel restrictions, but German citizens and foreigners with a valid residence permit will be allowed entrance. Anyone entering Germany from a risk area is required to self-quarantine for 14-days. Get the full list of risk areas here: www.rki.de

For more information, go to the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.

 

Where can I get real facts about Coronavirus? 

With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know the truth about Coronavirus and the current situation in Germany as well as the rest of the world. We recommend referencing the websites of the World Health Organization, the Federal Ministry of Health, and the Robert Koch Institute to get the facts about Covid-19. 

The city of Berlin also has a good FAQ page on their website: www.berlin.de/corona/faq

If you are in Berlin and suffering from Covid-19 symptoms or suspect you might be infected with the disease call the hotline: 030 90 28 28 28

 

** The information in this article is based on our research from the sources cited above.  As a relocation agency,  Archer Relocation does not provide legal advice, but we strive to provide information that may be helpful to our clients living in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany.

 

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Archer Relocation has been providing relocation services to families, individuals and companies in Berlin since early 2015.  Managing Director, Emily Archer, founded the company desiring to use her first-hand experience as an expat to make the relocation process as smooth as possible for others moving to Berlin.  Read other useful information about moving to and living in Berlin, such as ‘How to Find a Berlin Apartment’, on our Berlin Blog.  

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