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Masks, Tests and Contacts in Berlin: What are the Corona Rules?

This past weekend brought new Corona rules to Berlin. Since they change all the time, remembering them at all times is almost impossible. So, what about masks, tests, contacts and distance? These are Berlin’s rules right now.

Berlin, April 19th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — In Berlin, the Senate has put in place changed Corona rules every five minutes since Corona hit a year ago. At least that is what it feels like in retrospect. Last weekend was no exception. The rules changed for the millionth time. These are the rules that apply now.

MASKS

This subject is a little complicated. First of all, there are three kinds of masks:

> FFP2 masks, which are the safest ones (white masks that cover nose, mouth and chin)

> Medical masks (those greenish or blueish ‘ER masks’)

> Cloth masks

FFP2 standard masks are required in the following locations:

> In supermarkets, any shops, stores, malls and other kinds of businesses

> At doctor’s offices, health authorities, hospitals and care homes

> At libraries and education facilities for adults

> At cultural venues of all kinds

> In public transport, at train stations, airports and on aircraft as well as in taxis and similar vehicles

Medical masks are required here (FFP2 should be accepted too):

> In any buildings, including churches, mosques and synagogues

> In lifts

> In cars (the driver is exempt)

> At schools and offices

> At restaurants (which may only offer takeout food) and similar places

Any masks (FFP2, medical or cloth) need to be worn here:

> At protests

> At outdoor markets

> On all streets with shops and all crowded ones, as well as on crowded squares

> In waiting lines outdoors

Children up to five years of age are exempt. Children from 6 to 13 may use medical masks instead of FFP2 masks wherever the latter are required for adults.

TESTS

Berlin’s residents can get tests done for free. For many test stations, appointments need to be booked. Details can be found on Berlin’s official Corona test website (English version).

Fresh rapid tests from the same date, or PCR tests done within the past 24 hours, with negative outcomes, are required at the following places:

> Non-essential shops, stores and malls (NO tests are required at supermarkets, beverage shops, pharmacies, drugstores, pet food stores, book and stationary shops, flower shops, gardening centers.)

> Cultural venues (appointment required)

> Proximal services such as hairdressers, beauticians, nail studios, massage practice

> At driving, boating or flying schools, including in their vehicles, boats or aircraft and outdoor markets

Note: At most retail businesses and cultural venues, contact data need to be left on site, just in case.

Negative Corona tests are also required for the participation in indoor gatherings, meetings or conferences. Visitors of temples belonging to congregations of any religion are exempt. So are children up to 5 years of age, unless they are being brought to the kindergarten with runny noses or other cold symptoms.

One of several new aspects: Persons who got their second vaccine dose at least 15 days before, do not need any Corona tests.

Employees in proximal services need to be tested twice a week. All other employees who do not work from home need to be offered Corona tests twice a week.

CONTACTS and CURFEWS

Berlin has a semi-curfew. Between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., people may be outdoors alone or in pairs only. Children up to 13 years of age do not count.

The German capital also has a ‘semi-curfew light’ during the day, which nobody ever checks or enforces: At all times, people are not supposed to leave their homes unless they have a solid reason. The latter could be anything, including taking a walk.

Apart from staying at home as much as possible, people are supposed to keep their contacts to a minimum.

Outdoor meetings, during the day:

> Up to five people from up to two households may meet. Children up to 13 years of age do not count.

Outdoor meetings from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.:

> Up to two persons may meet.

Indoor meetings, during the day:

> People from one household may meet up to one person from another one. Children up to 13 years of age do not count, but their households do.

Indoor meetings at night:

People may only gather with members of their own household, spouses, life partners and/or their own children, including those who live in a different household.

All relevant Corona numbers for Germany, and daily Corona updates, can be found in our Corona chronology.

DISTANCE

Outdoors, a distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) needs to be kept to anyone who lives in a different household.

This kind of distance should also be kept in shops, buildings and public transport, whenever possible.

Indoors, in private homes, keeping the same distance to people who live in other households is recommended.

All of these rules apply until May 9th, 2021, or until further notice. If approved, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ’emergency brake’ law might change the rules yet again, depending on the infection situation.

SCHOOLS and KINDERGARTENS

Berlin’s kindergartens are in emergency mode. This means children of parents “with system-relevant professions” like doctors, nurses or police officers may go. The same applies to kids raised by single parents, kids with challenges and pre-school children. In all cases, parents who bring their kids need to be in urgent need to do so.

Schools are open, but only half the students of a grade are being taught on site. The other half is in for home or online schooling. Parents do not have to send their kids to school, meaning they can take part in online classes all the time.

Medical masks have to be worn by all kids and teachers at all times, except on the schoolyard if there is enough distance.

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