COVID-19 Corona: What's Important To Stay Safe

The pandemic is not over yet, but there is a step-by-step plan for lifting the restrictions. See our brief overview of the rules applicable in Hamburg to contain the spread of COVID-19.

What's changed with Hamburg's latest rules and regulations

What's Important: COVID-19 Regulations in Hamburg

Please note that only the German version of the regulations published in the Hamburg Law and Ordinance Gazette (available on the Internet at is legally binding. For more information, please see the rules and regulations for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more English information, please see our English FAQs and our translation of the official German regulations.

The COVID-19 situation in Hamburg

There is hope: over the past few weeks, the infection figures have been declining and from 5 May, the rate has stayed firmly below 100. By federal order, this means that what is commonly called Notbremse, or ‘emergency brake’, can be lifted from 12 May 2021.

Due to the decline in figures and the acceleration of the vaccination campaign in Hamburg, further restrictions may be lifted in the upcoming weeks in a step-by-step process. If the rates stay low or decline even further, schools and cultural activities will expand their operations in a first step after the May holidays.

If the situation does not get worse after this first step for another 14 days, more situations may return to normal - for example, contact restrictions may be relaxed and retail shops may open again to the public if the customers have tested negative. In a third step, another 14 days after the second, restaurants and cafés may open their outdoor seating areas and theatres may start business again, under the condition of course that the rates continue to stay low.

Even though this gives back all of us a certain degree of freedom, the pandemic is not over yet. In order for the rates and figures to continue dropping, many of the restrictions will still be in effect for some time. It is still very important to pay attention to these rules to prevent the rates from rising again, which would result in further restrictions.

Here is an overview of the current rules and restrictions in Hamburg in order for us and our fellow citizens to stay safe.

This is still important

Still, the most effective means to lower the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 are:

  • physical distancing;
  • restricting physical contacts;
  • wearing medical face masks;
  • keeping an eye on personal hygiene and health;
  • contact tracing;
  • testing for COVID-19; and
  • staying home.

This is new from 12 May 2021

Curfew lifted
From midnight, 12 May 2021, the nightly curfew in Hamburg is officially discontinued and Hamburg’s citizens may roam the streets and parks freely again. But we need to bear in mind that the contact restrictions still apply.

Contact restrictions
From 12 May 2021, Children under the age of 14 may do outdoor sporting activities in groups of up to five individuals. On playgrounds, parents (and other supervising persons) may take off their face masks if they can maintain the minimum distance to other parents (or supervising persons).

Please continue to avoid physical contact in any possible way. For all necessary meetings in person, the following rules apply:

Persons living in a shared household may meet only one further person. This applies to both private and public situations. Children under the age of 14 are exempt from this rule. Spouses and life partners are counted as a common household even if they do not live together.

Please maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres to all persons not covered by this rule – whether you are at home, in indoor public spaces or in the outdoors. You need not keep the minimum distance to persons of your shared household, but still it is highly recommended to reduce physical contact to an absolute minimum and to observe the usual hygiene measures as strictly as possible.

Fully vaccinated or recovered persons
Some restrictions, such as contact restrictions or the limited visiting rights in care facilities, are lifted for persons who can show a valid vaccination certificate (Impfnachweis) or certificate of recovery from an infection with COVID-19 (Genesenennachweis).

Still, these persons are not exempt from rules that apply to all citizens, such as the obligation to wear (medical) face masks (see below) or the space limitations on public premises, for example when shopping groceries.

Child care (Kitas)
From 17 May, Kitas may open again in a restricted form of the regular service.

Additionally, they may continue to provide special care programmes for children who urgently need care or supervision. This applies to children whose parents or legal custodians work in jobs which are urgently necessary for the maintenance of security or crucial infrastructure.

Children with single parents or children who are in need of support because of individual or family reasons may also receive special care.

If children have an increased body temperature or show other symptoms typical of a COVID-19 infection, they may not be accepted into a Kita.

Parental fees for Kita care need not be paid during times of the special care programme.

Schools and other educational facilities
Since 15 March, Hamburg has gradually enabled in-class teaching in primary schools and for graduation years. Provided that school staff are being tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis, from 17 May in-class teaching in alternating groups of students may start again for all grades after the May holidays.

Students taking part in in-class education must undergo testing: only persons with a negative test result may attend in-school classes.

On school premises and in all indoor areas, the obligation to wear a face mask applies to all persons present; this includes lessons as far as they take place on site and applies to all ways of teaching, including primary schools. In all classes, there must be a regular exchange of the air in the class room by fully opening windows and doors every 20 minutes.

Libraries may only open for ordering and picking up books or other media.

Extracurricular activities for children and young adults, such as music or afternoon study groups, are allowed again, provided that the teaching staff must undergo testing.

Other educational facilities, including private facilities, vocational training facilities, language, integration and orientation courses, must offer their classes in distance education. In-class teaching is only allowed if physical presence is necessary for reaching the learning goals – for example in exam situations.

The rules in brief

Obligation to wear a face mask
There is still an obligation to wear a medical face mask in certain areas of public life; this obligation also applies to persons who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

Wearing an FFP2 face mask is mandatory in public transport and body care services, such as hairdressers’ salons, barber shops or podiatry for both service providers and customers.

Areas where wearing a medical face mask (surgical mask, FFP2 or above) include (without being limited to):

  • on airplanes, in taxis, and other commercial transport providers,
  • retail and grocery shops,
  • publicly accessible buildings,
  • cultural institutions,
  • health care facilities and hospitals,
  • places of worship and commemoration, and
  • shared offices and workplaces whenever there is more than one person present,
  • in private or business-related vehicles (for example cars, lorries, trucks, etc.); drivers are exempt from this obligation.

Medical masks are surgical masks and other face masks fulfilling the KN95 or FFP2 standards. In those places mentioned above, every-day cotton face masks or any other piece of cloth wrapped around the face are not sufficient. Wherever there is no obligation to wear a medical face mask in closed rooms, it is highly recommended to do so nevertheless.

Where applicable, medical masks must be worn by all persons aged 14 and above. Children under the age of 14 may still wear cotton or cloth face masks.

Additionally, there is still a more general obligation to wear a face mask in certain areas in the open air, especially at outdoor meetings and gatherings. Even though it is allowed to wear cotton or cloth face masks in these cases, it is highly recommended to put on medical face masks here as well.

Please note that transparent plastic visors do not count as sufficient face masks. Persons failing or refusing to wear an appropriate face mask covering their mouth and nose may face a fine.

Retail and grocery shops, delivery services
Grocery shops and retail shops for daily needs (drug stores, pharmacies, beverage supplies shops, gas/petrol stations, laundrettes and dry cleaners, pet supplies shops, kiosks and newsagents) as well as stalls on outdoor weekly markets may open. Book shops, florists and garden centres may also open under strict circumstances.

Other retail shops may sell items online or on the phone and have them collected by the customers. Appointments for individual in-person consultation are not allowed.

Culture and leisure time
Theatres, musical stages, cinemas, opera and concert halls, music clubs and venues, the planetarium and the house of literature remain closed in order to reduce contacts in general. Museums, exhibition halls and memorial sites may open from 17 May 2021 under strict .

The Bücherhallen libraries, community cultural centres and archives as well as the outdoor areas of zoos and botanical gardens may open under strict hygiene requirements. Hosting events is still prohibited.

The obligation to wear a face mask applies to all persons present. The outdoor areas of the botanical gardens and the Tierpark Hagenbeck may only be entered by visitors with a fixed appointment and a negative covid test. Visitors must submit their contact details.

Exercising sport and training in the open air is allowed alone, in pairs of two or with members of the same household. Children under the age of 14 may do outdoor sporting activities in groups of up to five individuals.

Changing rooms in sport centres remain closed (except for the toilets). Fitness and yoga studios, gyms, swimming pools, saunas and thermal baths remain closed.

Services in the field of plumbing and installation, especially emergency services, may be conducted under strict circumstances.

Body care service providers, such as beauty parlours, tattoo studios, tanning salons, etc. must close again. Service businesses providing urgent medical care, such as hairdressers and barber shops as well as podiatry practices may remain open under strict conditions.

The studios which are allowed to open must meet the general hygiene requirements, draw up an infection control concept, arrange appointments with the clients in advance and collect clients’ contact details. Clients must wear medical face masks and be able to present a valid negative COVID-19 test from the same day.

Offering or engaging in sex work services is prohibited; the respective facilities are closed.

Civic centres
The civic centres in Hamburg’s districts have extended their service hours. Citizens may take care of their affairs between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Medical face masks must be worn in all public service facilities.

Restaurants, cafés, bars and alcohol in public
All restaurants, cafés and bars remain closed to public access. But you can still support your local restaurant if they offer collection (only during day time) or delivery of food to eat at home.

Staff canteens and cafeterias without public access may only offer food and drinks for take away unless it is possible to eat and drink in separate rooms.

Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited in certain areas. You can find an overview of these areas here.

Driving lessons
Driving theory lessons must be taught via digital remote education. Driving practice may only be offered under strict hygiene requirements for business training and for instruction units which had already started. The obligation to wear medical face masks applies.

Remote work, masks obligatory in offices
Due to federal decision, employers are required to enable remote work for their employees wherever possible. In addition, Hamburg has tightened the rules for wearing face masks for employees working in shared offices.

Consequently, wearing a medical face mask is obligatory in all offices as soon as there is more than one person present in the room, shared office, or workshop. The face mask may only be removed temporarily if this is absolutely necessary for job performance. Work groups should consist of the same persons if this is possible.

The employer is responsible for suppling their employees with medical face masks.

Hospitals and care facilities
Due to the serious situation, many hospitals have restricted their visiting policies or prohibited visits altogether. Where visits are allowed, the general contact restrictions and hygiene rules apply. Please inquire about additional rules and restrictions at the respective facility.

Visitors at hospitals or care facilities must show evidence that they have tested negative for COVID-19 (PoC antigen testing) no more than 12 hours before entering the premises; the institutions must provide the means necessary for testing.

Persons experiencing coughing, sneezing or other symptoms of a respiratory illness, or persons subject to official isolation orders must not enter hospitals or care facilities in order to protect the other persons at these institutions.

Parties and meetings
Please refrain from organising any parties or meetings. Meetings in person are only allowed in very restricted surroundings and should be confined to meetings that are absolutely necessary.

Travel and accommodation
Please try to avoid all means of private travel and day trips. Accommodation for tourist purposes is prohibited in Hamburg and all around Germany.

Testing obligatory for persons entering from high-risk areas
Anyone entering from a high-risk area must undergo testing for COVID-19 immediately upon their arrival and put themselves in domestic isolation for 14 consecutive days. Please enquire about special rules for fully vaccinated and recovered persons. Testing in order to end the isolation period may commence no sooner than five days after entry.

Places of worship and commemoration
Worship services and other religious events should take place in a digital and remote form if this is possible, but they may take place physically if the applicable contact restrictions and hygiene rules are complied with.

Wearing a medical mask is mandatory in all closed rooms; singing in groups is prohibited. Events must be registered with the local authorities if a large number of attending persons can be expected.

Please note that only the German version of the regulations published in the Hamburg Law and Ordinance Gazette (available on the Internet at is legally binding. For more information, please see the rules and regulations for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more English information, please see our English FAQs and our translation of the official German regulations.

We would like to say thank you for being considerate and respectful, and for taking these rules of infection control and mutual support seriously!

Corona: What's New

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