Landungsbrücken

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

Official information on the rules and regulations in Hamburg changes frequently. For a simple update on what's changed, check here.

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

What's Important: COVID-19 Regulations in Hamburg

Please note that only the original German version of the regulations published in the Hamburg Law and Ordinance Gazette (available on the Internet at www.luewu.de) is legally binding. For more English information, please see our English translation of the regulations and our FAQs.

Thanks to Hamburg’s residents generally careful following of previous restrictions over the last months, further relaxing of the restrictions has been possible even though there has been an increase in figures since the end of the summer holidays. Please remember, however, that the virus has not disappeared altogether.

If the requirements for the protection of the citizenship were abandoned entirely, the people who are currently ill could trigger new chains of infection. In order for the relaxing of the restrictions in Hamburg to stay in effect, everyone is asked to continue observing certain rules of infection protection.

Current rules in order to prevent infection:

By now, the most effective means to prevent COVID-19 from spreading have proved to be:

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

Physical distancing
In all public places, people must maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from each other. This minimum distance applies everywhere and to everyone with only a few exceptions. The general contact rules, including these exceptions, can be found in the paragraph ‘Restricting physical contacts’.

Public spaces are all locations that are accessible to everyone: examples for outdoor public spaces are sidewalks, streets, squares and parks; in enclosed spaces, they include, for example, shops, supermarkets, bars, restaurants and cultural institutions.

Retail, accommodation, cultural and sports facilities must ensure that proper physical distance between customers and guests can be maintained – for example, by limiting the number of customers or guests in the same space at a certain time.

But each and every one of us also bears a responsibility. In a big city like Hamburg, streets or squares can sometimes get crowded. If it’s not possible to keep the minimum distance – for example at markets or in shopping areas – it’s sometimes better to step out of the crowd or leave altogether and wear a mask outdoors, even if not explicitly required.

Restricting physical contacts
The more physical contact we have, the more likely becomes the risk of infection. In order to prevent the virus from spreading, the number of physical contacts without the minimum physical distance should be limited to the fewest possible.

These groups of people are allowed to meet in public without the minimum distance:

  1. people living in the same household as well as life partners, children, siblings and grandparents;
  2. people who work in a job at which they cannot always keep their distance. These professions can be found in the regulations;
  3. in public spaces, up to 10 people from any number of households are allowed to get together; at private meetings, up to 25 people from different households can come together.

In practical terms, this means that you can go out and arrange meetings with friends and colleagues who are not part of your household, provided that no more than 10 people meet.

It is, for example, no problem to go to the cinema or meet at a restaurant and sit together in a small group, but remember to keep an eye on the number of people. And please remember to keep your distance from other people, for example waiters and salespeople or people at the other restaurant tables.

Wearing a face mask
In areas that can get crowded quickly and suddenly, it is sometimes not possible to keep the physical distance at all times. That’s why wearing a face mask covering mouth and nose is obligatory for everyone in these places to prevent the virus from spreading through droplet infection. Wearing a face mask is also necessary in schools and other educational facilities.

Persons who fail or refuse to wear a face mask correctly in public spaces where wearing a mask is obligatory may face having to pay a fine of €80.

People who cannot wear a face mask for reasons of personal health, for example due to a previous illness or serious breathing problems, are exempt from the obligation to wear a mask. When entering shops, markets or public transport vehicles without a face mask, these persons must be able to give reasonable proof for this, for example by way of a medical certificate, a pass for severely handicapped persons or an allergy pass.

Keeping an eye on hygiene and health
Personal hygiene can protect against smear infection: wash your hands frequently and sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm. A used tissue should be thrown in the garbage immediately.

Face masks made from textile and fabric should be washed regularly at a high temperature. After use, they should be carried in a separate container.

Shops, pubs, restaurants, events, cultural facilities and other public services must draw up an infection control concept. All customers and guests must comply with these rules.

Anyone who feels symptoms of an illness connected to the respiratory organs is not allowed to enter public spaces, shops, public transport vehicles or event locations.

Contact tracing
In order to prevent the virus from spreading again, it is important that new chains of infection can be traced as easily as possible. In restaurants, cinemas and many other public spaces, visitors are therefore asked to provide at least their first and last name, address and telephone number. If there should be another case of an illness, this makes it possible to reconstruct the contacts that an infected person had at a certain time and to notify everyone who is possibly affected.

If the owner of a facility (event location, cultural institution, café, bar, restaurant or similar) fails to care for the documentation of the visitors’ contact details, they may be fined with €500 to 1,000 (depending on the size of the premises). Customers and visitors who provide their contact details incompletely, incorrectly, or fail or refuse to disclose their contact details altogether may face a fine of €150 each.

The government has also issued a Corona Warning App (Corona-Warn-App), which can help with the tracking. The app can tell quickly if another app user with whom you’ve had contact has tested positive for COVID-19. You can find the app in the Apple or Google Play App Stores where you can download it to your smartphone for free.

Testing for COVID-19
Testing is mandatory for people experiencing certain symptoms and for people working in certain professional fields.

Returnees from countries that qualify as risk areas by the categories of the Robert Koch Institute must put themselves in quarantine for 14 days and report to the public health office.

Quarantine can be shortened, however, by providing evidence through testing for COVID-19 that there is no risk of infection. It is recommended to take this test not until 5 days after re-entering Germany, because an infection can only be detected by testing after 5 days. Strict domestic quarantine must be maintained until an official negative test result can be presented.

If you experience symptoms that may be related to an infection with COVID-19, please make a phone call to your physician or general practitioner, or call the COVID-19 service hotline: 116 117. You will be given further information on where and when to undergo testing.

Testing for COVID-19 will be carried out by physicians and general practitioners, or at DRK (red cross) testing centres located in Altona and Farmsen. Returnees who have travelled by plane can undergo testing at the testing centre right at the Fuhlsbüttel airport.

This is new from 17 October 2020

Fewer persons allowed at private parties
Parties and celebrations with family, friends or other acquaintances outside of private homes are now only permitted with no more than 25 persons. Private parties and celebrations in your own home are only permitted with up to 15 persons. It is also recommended that physical contact should be reduced to an absolute minimum and that the appropriate hygiene measures should be observed.

Curfew in restaurants and bars, and ban on alcohol sales
The operation of restaurants and bars for the public is prohibited from Saturday, 17 October 2020, between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. the following morning. During this period, there is also a general ban on the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. The police may also prohibit the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in certain places at other times if there are violations of these restrictions in these places or their immediate vicinity due to collective consumption of alcohol in public places.

Restrictions on events
Open-air events without fixed seating are now only permitted with no more than 100 participants, and in closed rooms with a maximum of only 50 participants. If alcohol is served during the event or during the breaks, the number of participants permitted is reduced by half.

For events with fixed seating, a detailed infection control concept must now be drafted for events with 100 participants or more. This concept must include the arrangement of fixed seating, monitoring of the entry and exit areas for the audience, ventilation, sanitary facilities and general hygiene precautions.

Obligation to wear a face mask in the Oberstufe classes and at Berufsschulen
The Bundesumweltamt (German Environment Agency) recommends that after the autumn holidays, class rooms at all schools should be ventilated every 20 minutes for a few minutes in order to exchange the air inside the room. In addition, after the autumn holidays, the obligation to wear a face mask will be extended to lessons at Berufsschulen and in the Oberstufe classes (grades 11 and 12 at Gymnasien and grades 11 to 13 at Stadtteilschulen) until further notice.

This is also new since early October 2020

Obligation to wear a face mask in certain public areas
As of 10 October 2020, all persons that are present in certain streets, squares or other public areas are required to wear a face mask at certain times of the day in order to limit the risk of infection in crowded areas. For a detailed list of these public areas, see this article or the regulations in English; for a detailed map, see the German announcement.

New guidelines for contact tracing
Wherever guests and visitors are asked to provide their contact details in public spaces, for example event locations, cultural institutions, restaurants, cafés, bars, or similar facilities, these contact details must at least comprise the first and last name, address and telephone number of the guest/visitor as well as the date and time of the visit.

If the owner of a facility (event location, cultural institution, café, bar, restaurant or similar) fails to care for the documentation of the visitors’ contact details, they may be fined with €500 to €1,000 (depending on the size of the premises). Customers and visitors who provide their contact details incompletely, incorrectly, or fail or refuse to disclose their contact details altogether may face a fine of €150 each.

Christmas markets and winter markets
Public Christmas markets and winter markets are allowed to take place under certain conditions. For example, there must be separated seated areas for the consumption of food and drinks; eating and drinking while standing is not allowed. The sale and consumption of alcohol is allowed, but only in these separated seated areas. Unfortunately, this means that walking around the market with a mug of hot wine in hand is not allowed.

All this is only possible provided that the epidemiological situation does not deteriorate significantly. This means that with rising figures in infections, if the public health authority in consultation with the Robert Koch Institute decide that it’s too risky to let such large events happen, public Christmas markets and winter markets may still be cancelled.

School trips and class outings
School trips and longer journeys of age-groups that contain accommodation remain prohibited until 31 December 2020. However, one-day class outings without accommodation and short trips to educational facilities outside the school premises are now allowed again.

The following are still prohibited or closed:

  • large events with more than 1,000 attendees are generally prohibited, except in individual cases under strict conditions;
  • dancing in public spaces is prohibited; therefore clubs and discotheques and music clubs where people are expected to dance are closed;
  • Volksfeste, or large funfairs, such as the Hamburg DOM, remain closed but may be allowed to open from 1 November (see paragraph Retail, markets, fairs below);
  • private property may not be rented out to visitors or tourists;
  • the Bezirksamt may issue temporary bans on the sale of alcoholic drinks for take away in certain areas.

What Is Allowed (If We Play by the Rules):

Events
Events with a limited number of people are okay. Limiting the number of people is necessary to help keep physical distance. The number of people allowed depends on whether the event takes place indoors or outdoors, with or without fixed seating, and with or without the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Events with fixed seating in the open air, (as, for example, in outdoor theatres or outdoor cinemas), up to 1,000 people can be admitted, and at fixed-seating events indoors, up to 650 people can be part of the action.

Open-air events without fixed seating, however, are now only permitted with no more than 100 participants, and in closed rooms with a maximum of only 50 participants. If alcohol is served during the event or during the breaks, the number of participants permitted is reduced by half.

For events with fixed seating, a detailed infection control concept must now be drafted for events with 100 participants or more. This concept must include the arrangement of fixed seating, monitoring of the entry and exit areas for the audience, ventilation, sanitary facilities and general hygiene precautions.

At all events, the general hygiene, distancing and contact rules apply. The organiser must take care that the physical distance between people can be kept. In closed rooms, organisers must take further measures, for example, by providing room ventilation and by giving guests the opportunity to wash and disinfect their hands.

In this context, an event is defined as such when it has a certain purpose of entertainment but does not serve to sell goods. An event is organised for a public audience, guests or participants. For privately arranged events, parties or celebrations, further restrictions apply.

Private events
Celebrations and other events in private houses and apartments are allowed, but only if there are no more than 15 people. If the celebration takes place outside the private home, in the fresh air, up to 25 people are allowed. Still, the contact restrictions apply and it is highly recommended not to get too close to each other.

This applies also to weddings and to events in gardens and in Kleingärten allotment gardens. For more information on private parties and festivities, see here.

Gatherings of people
In the open air, gatherings with up to 1,000 persons are permitted. Up to 300 persons are allowed to gather in closed rooms.

Information points of political parties and non-profit associations are also permitted. The general distancing and contact rules apply at all meetings.

Open-air meetings must also normally be arranged in advance. If the responsible authority considers it necessary, the organisers must be prepared to present an infection control concept at any time.

Culture
The general rules for events also apply to performances or other events at theatres, cinemas, concert halls, planetariums and other state and private cultural institutions, again with a limited number of people allowed. Visitors must follow the rules of hygiene and physical distancing.

A minimum physical distance of 1.5 metres must be maintained between audience members. An extended distance of 2.5 meters must be maintained between the audience and the stage.

Restaurants, bars and cafés
The general rules of distancing and contact restrictions also apply in all gastronomic facilities, that is in restaurants, bars, cafés and similar places. Guests must provide their contact details and stick to the hygiene rules.

If there is an event, the corresponding event rules apply. If there is a stage, the distance from the audience to the stage must be 2.5 metres.

Buffets are not permitted.

Dancing is not permitted.

Smoking shisha or hookahs is allowed under certain conditions: I must be ensured that only one person uses a water pipe at a time. Disposable hoses and mouthpieces must be used and the water pipe must be cleaned after each use.

The Bezirksamt may issue temporary bans on the sale of alcoholic drinks for take away in certain areas.

Sports and swimming pools; grilling in parks
All sports are generally allowed. When, however, those sports include body contact, the number of people who perform the sports without physical distancing is reduced to 10. Teams with up to 30 members are allowed to exercise or compete indoors or outdoors.

All organisers, operators and clubs must draw up an infection control concept and record the contact details of the participants.

All open-air public swimming pools are allowed to open. At indoor pools, an extended minimum physical distance of 2.5 metres must be maintained while swimming.

Picnics and grilling are allowed in parks and in other public spaces, but the rules of physical distancing and contact restriction apply. This means that you can grill or picnic together with a group of as many as 10 people; if the group gets bigger, you must remember to keep the distance.

Accommodation and tourism
Overnight stays in hotels, hostels, guesthouses, holiday homes and on campsites are allowed under the usual conditions: physical distancing, hygiene rules, contact details.

Using a sauna, whirlpool bath, steam bath or thermal bath is allowed for single persons or for groups of no more than 10 persons. Since two or more groups at the same time are not allowed, a maximum number of 10 people may use these facilities at the same time.

Dormitories may sleep a maximum of four people at a time.

Self-service buffets are allowed under certain conditions.

Renting out private apartments for commercial accommodation is prohibited.

Accommodating guests who have previously stayed in an area with an increased risk of infection is prohibited. If a guest has a valid negative test for COVID-19 from within the preceding 48 hours, then they may stay overnight.

Trips on coach buses, boat trips and sightseeing tours can be made without limiting the number of guests.

Transport
The general distance and contact rules apply in all public spaces. But as it can be crowded in public transport regardless, people must wear face masks in all public transport vehicles as well as in all stations and at all train and bus stops. In taxis, passengers must also wear a face mask. The driver only has to wear a face mask if there are no other means of protection, for example a partition wall between them and the client(s).

Drivers and operators of the vehicles may deny transport to people who refuse to wear a face mask. People without proper mouth and nose coverage in public transport vehicles have to face paying a €40 fine if caught by HVV staff. If they get caught by police, persons who refuse to wear a mask may face a fine of €80.

Anyone who feels symptoms of an illness of the respiratory organs is not allowed to use public transport.

Retail, markets, fairs
In retail shops, pharmacies, banks, post offices, commercial exhibition areas and at markets and trade fairs, the rules of physical distancing and contact restriction apply. The owners or operators have to stick to the hygiene rules and make sure that there is enough space for everyone to keep their distance.

Food samples may not be offered. Providing samples of unpackaged cosmetics for testing is also not allowed.

Trade fairs, flea markets and other markets (for example Jahrmärkte, as defined in the Gewerbeordnung) may also reopen to the public under the usual conditions.

For the moment, large-scale funfairs, such as the Hamburg DOM are prohibited. But depending on the development of the pandemic, the Winter DOM and Christmas markets may be allowed again from 1 November. There will be strict conditions imposed on these events, for example the sale of alcohol will not be allowed.

All customers must wear face masks. Persons who fail or refuse to wear a face mask correctly in spaces where wearing a mask is obligatory may face having to pay a fine of €80.

Employers are responsible for the protection of their employees.

Jobs with physical contact
Barbershops, salons, nail studios, beauty parlours and tattoo studios must record their customers' contact details and draw up an infection control concept in cooperation with their Berufsgenossenschaft (professional insurance association). If possible, clients must wear a face mask. Whenever wearing a face mask and keeping the minimum distance are not possible, other measures must be taken.

Sex work and sexual services
Under strict conditions, sex work and sexual services are allowed again in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Niedersachsen and Bremen. These services may be carried out at officially recognised and licensed places, or in private places but only after prior phone or digital arrangement.

All sex workers must document their clients’ names and the meeting places. Meetings may take place between no more than one sex worker and one client. Group arrangements are prohibited, and so are sex work events and vehicles used for sexual services.

Day care centres for children, schools, universities and other places for education
All private and public educational institutions have reopened. For more information on the reopening on Hamburg's schools after the summer holidays, see here.

All institutions must be able to present an infection control concept.

The rules of physical distancing should be observed, as long as this does not interfere with the educational tasks and as long as the spatial conditions allow it. In all schools except primary schools, students must wear face masks during breaks and in the hallways. This also applies to teachers and other employees under certain conditions.

Students who are ill or who live with ill or vulnerable people should not attend class. Wherever there is no way of teaching lessons in person, classes are replaced by distance learning. Nursery school children and employees with symptoms of an illness or if they are subject to official quarantine orders are not allowed to enter the respective facilities.

Attendance is obligatory for examinations in schools and universities, with exams being held under strict conditions.

In the summer term 2020, classes at state universities will be digital. During the winter term 2020/21, there may be in-person classes again under certain conditions.

Classes at music schools, choirs, dance schools, ballet and drama schools are allowed, but only under strict conditions.

Please be extra careful with activities that involve high levels of breathing, such as singing, dancing or playing wind instruments. In these cases, there must be an extended minimum distance of 2.5 metres. The general rules on physical distancing and contact restrictions also apply in dance schools. In classes for any styles of partner dancing, changing dance partners is only allowed within a group of 10 people.

Hospitals and nursing homes
Visiting relatives and friends in hospital is allowed again for children under the age of 16. People living in nursing homes may have two visitors indoors at the same time for up to three hours. In outdoor areas, even more visitors are allowed to stay and for an unlimited period of time. Day care facilities for people in need of care and assistance have opened under certain conditions.

Persons in prison
During the first 14 days of detainment, persons in prison must be kept apart from other person who have been in prison for more than 14 days. Contact to other newly imprisoned persons must be reduced to a minimum. For persons in open prison, the responsible judicial authority may issue different rules in individual cases.

Places of worship
Worship services, for example in churches, mosques and synagogues or in the open air, require the usual rules of physical distancing and contact restrictions.

The organisers must ensure that attendees have access to hygiene facilities and that enough room is available so that the persons present can keep the minimum distance.

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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