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Worries about the coronavirus COVID 19 are growing in the city, after schools, theatres, universities, bars and clubs will close.

© imago images/Emmanuele Contini

Closures, Hotlines, Contact Points: Coronavirus in Berlin – what you need to know and where you can get help

What is allowed during the lockdown in Berlin and what is not? Where can I go if I suspect I have been infected? An overview.

Das Coronavirus hat Berlin erreicht. Hier finden Sie einen Überblick über die aktuelle Situation in der Stadt, die Schließungen, die Zahl der bekannten Infektionsfälle und Hilfseinrichtungen in englischer Sprache. Die deutsche Fassung finden Sie hier. Übersetzung: Jakob Schlandt.

It's a race against the clock. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Berlin. Step by step, the Senate has decided on far-reaching measures to slow down the pandemic and protect the health system against a surge. Public life has largely come to a standstill and people should stay at home if possible.

In this article we inform you about what is still allowed and what is illegal now in Berlin, what is open and what is closed, who is entitled to emergency care for their children and what changes are taking place in public transport. You will also find hotline phone numbers and addresses of contact points in hospitals if you think you are infected yourself.

The current number of infected people in Berlin

The number of infections is still rising exponentially. Confirmed case numbers for Covid-19 in Berlin are published daily by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) as part of an overview for all federal states. On Monday morning, 23rd March, the RKI reported 1077 infected persons in Berlin (as of midnight). The Senate Department of Health had last reported 1219 cases (as of 23 March, 16:30). Two Covid-19 patients have since died: one 95-year-old and one 70-year-old.

In order to prepare for the expected surge of ill people, a hospital for Covid-19 patients is to be opened at the exhibition centre. Up to 1000 patients will be able to be treated there.

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Hotlines: How to call for advice and help

Berlins Senate Health Authority has set up a central corona hotline. It can be reached daily from 8 to 20 o'clock by calling 030/90282828 (be aware that you have to dial Germany’s country code 0049 first and leave the first 0 out in general if you call from a foreign telephone). Because several hundred calls were recently received daily, hotline staff has been reinforced. Nevertheless, you have to wait for long during certain times of the day.

If you have mild cold symptoms, it is best to contact a local doctor by telephone. Recently, it was made possible to take sick leave for up to seven days without actually seeing a doctor. The regulation is in place until 5 April. The sick note is then sent by post. People who apply for this must be able to prove that they had no contact with people who are ill with the coronavirus or have stayed in a high risk area. If you have children with an an upper respiratory tract disease, the doctor can also certify that the parents are unable to work.

The Senate recommends to be particularly vigilant in the following cases: If you had contact with a confirmed corona patient in the past two weeks, you should stay at home and contact the responsible health authority. This also applies if you have been in one of the high risk areas defined by the RKI in the past weeks (here is an overview) – especially if you have (even slight) symptoms. Comprehensive information from the Senate Health Administration can be found here.

[Going local - have you heard about our weekly newsletters, one for each of Berlin's twelve districts? Of course, they cover the way how your neighbourhood deals with the virus and its consequences. Get them here for free, but in German: leute.tagesspiegel.de]

Major German health insurers have also set up telephone hotlines for enquiries. Barmer can be reached at 0800/8484111. DAK has provided the number 040/325325800 (call at local rate) which can be contacted around the clock. Doctors and hygiene experts answer questions by callers. Customers of other health insurance companies or people with no German health insurance company at all may also contact the numbers.

For immobile patients, the fire department and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV) Berlin have started a joint transport service. Between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., this service takes care of patients with severe colds who need a doctor at home or in nursing homes. This service can be reached by calling 116117.

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An dieser Stelle finden Sie einen von unseren Redakteuren ausgewählten, externen Inhalt, der den Artikel für Sie mit zusätzlichen Informationen anreichert. Sie können sich hier den externen Inhalt mit einem Klick anzeigen lassen oder wieder ausblenden.

Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass mir der externe Inhalt angezeigt wird. Damit können personenbezogene Daten an Drittplattformen übermittelt werden. Mehr Informationen dazu erhalten Sie in den Datenschutz-Einstellungen. Diese finden Sie ganz unten auf unserer Seite im Footer, sodass Sie Ihre Einstellungen jederzeit verwalten oder widerrufen können.

Eight contact points at Berlin hospitals

The first point of contact for coronavirus cases in Berlin was at the Charité site in Virchow, Wedding. By now, their number has grown to eight.

As of now, the following eight contact points are currently open for patients:

  • Charité site Virchow in Wedding (Mittelallee 1; open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus Havelhöhe in Spandau (House 16, Kladower Damm 221, open Mon-Fri 9-20 h)
  • Vivantes-Klinikum in Prenzlauer Berg (Diesterwegstraße, Mon-Fri 10-19 h, Sat/Sun 10-17 h)
  • Vivantes-Wenckebach-Klinikum in Tempelhof (Albrechtstraße, Mon-Fri 10-19, Sat/Sun 10-17)
  • Evangelisches Krankenhaus Königin Elisabeth Herzberge in Lichtenberg (House 19, Herzbergstraße 79, Mon-Fri: 10-19 h, Sat/Sun 10-17 h), website
  • DRK-Klinikum Westend in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (House 10, Spandauer Damm 130, Mon-Fri: 9-15 o'clock)
  • Vivantes-Klinikum Spandau (Neuendorfer Straße 69, not on the clinic premises, follow the signs, Mon-Fri: 10-19 h, Sat/Sun 10-17 h)
  • DRK-Kliniken Köpenick (House 5.3, Salvador-Allende-Straße 2-8, access 50 metres to the right of the entrance to the Ärztehaus der DRK-Kliniken, Mon-Fri: from 9 a.m. - a maximum of 50 tests per day can currently be carried out here)

Please do not go there before you have contacted the hospital by phone.

In case of the Charité, the two Vivantes Clinics, the Herzberge Clinic and the Westend Clinic, you should call the Senate Health Administration hotline (Tel. 030/90282828, daily 8-8 o'clock) whether testing for the coronavirus is advisable.

Anyone wishing to visit the outpatient clinic at the Havelhöhe Hospital is requested to first call the clinic's hotline on Tel. 030/36501-7222. A little patience may be necessary.

What does "contact restriction" mean for people in Berlin?

No hard curfew – but rather a "contact restriction": On Sunday, 22 March, the federal and state governments decided on further measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus; the Berlin Senate largely followed the consensus and implemented tough rules.

In the future, Berliners are to stay "permanently in their flat or current accommodation". The new rules are valid until 5 April for the time being.

Is it still allowed to go outside at all? Yes, but only in the following cases:

  • to get to work, which includes volunteering
  • for shopping
  • for sports activities - but only alone, "with members of your own household" or another person
  • for walking and gardening
  • when visiting life partners, the elderly, sick or people with disabilities
  • for death care and funerals in the immediate family circle
  • for accompanying persons in need of assistance and minors
  • for leaving and returning to Berlin – but only on a direct route from and to your home or accommodation
  • for visits to the doctor and to old and sick people
  • for official or court appointments that are urgently required

In all cases, an identity card or other official photo identification (but then additionally with documentation of the residential address) must be carried at all times.

There may be checks by the police and other authorities.

In all cases, the following applies: in public, keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres. A detailed description of the regulations can be found here.

Die Coronavirus-Ambulanz der Charité im Virchow-Klinikum Wedding war die erste in Berlin.
Die Coronavirus-Ambulanz der Charité im Virchow-Klinikum Wedding war die erste in Berlin.

© Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Which stores are closed...?

Since Sunday, 22 March, cafés and restaurants are closed down. Until then they were allowed to be open from 6 to 6 pm. However, food and drinks may still be offered for take away or delivery - provided that strict hygienic rules are in place.

Hairdressers, beauty salons, massage parlours, tattoo studios and similar establishments also had to close.

Cultural life and sports will come to a complete standstill until 19 April. The senate wants to re-evaluate the situation before that date.

...and which are still open?

Stores are generally closed in Berlin. With one exception: retail outlets for food and beverages, including the small late-night stores which are typical for Berlin remain open. Pickup and delivery services may continue as well as weekly food markets.

Pharmacies, facilities with medical supplies and for the purchase of hearing aids and sight aids, drugstores, petrol stations, laundries, newspaper and bookstores, retail trade for building, gardening and animal supplies, bicycle shops, handicraft and craftsmen's supplies and wholesale trade may also remain open.

What about assemblies and other public or private gatherings?

All public and non-public meetings, events, assemblies and gatherings and are illegal now. In the private and family area, gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed if they are absolutely necessary – for example for funerals.

Strict rules also apply to hospitals. Only patients under 16 years of age and seriously ill patients may still be visited. The same applies to nursing homes and maternity wards in the clinics.

These penalties apply for not following the rules

Anyone who violates the prohibitions on assembly is committing a criminal offence. The basis for the regulation is the federal Infection Protection Act. Violations are punished with a prison sentence of up to five years or a fine (up to 25,000 euros). They are regulated in Section 16 of the Act.

You can read the entire Infection Protection Act here.

Children's playgrounds are closed

Contrary to the guidelines of the Federal Government, the Senate did not want to close the playgrounds in Berlin. However, children should keep a distance of 1.5 meters when playing, said health senator Kalayci. In the meantime, however, all districts have closed their playgrounds. Mitte was the first to do so, with Pankow last closing its facilities on Monday, March 23.

Closure of day-care centres and schools

Since Monday, 16 March, all vocational schools and upper secondary school centres in Berlin have closed. Since the following Tuesday, all other schools and day-care centres have also been closed until after the Easter holidays, i.e. 19 April. The day care centres, where children are looked after in small groups by childminders, have also closed on Wednesday. Schools, however, should provide learning opportunities for their students. This could be homework that pupils are given or digital learning – for example in the "Learning Room Berlin". On its website, the Senate Department for Education explains in detail what needs to be done now and why.

At every school there should be emergency care for pupils in grades 1 to 6. This applies not only to the public and private primary schools, but also to the fifth and sixth grades of the basic secondary schools.

However, only parents who work in so-called “systemically important” professions and are unable to organise any other form of childcare are entitled. Both criteria must apply. Parents must provide a self-declaration. Normally, both parents must also work in these occupations, but in certain areas there is also a one-parent rule. The Senate Department of the Interior has determined which professions are considered "systemically relevant". The Senate assumes that this applies to about 15 percent of parents.

Professional groups that are considered "systemically important”

  • Police, fire brigade and aid organisations
  • Police, fire brigade and aid organisationsStaff of the penal and judicial system
  • Crisis unit staff
  • Operationally necessary personnel of BVG, S-Bahn, BWB, BSR, other public transport companies as well as utilities (electricity, gas, water supply)
  • Operationally necessary personnel in the health sector (in particular medical staff, nursing staff and medical assistants, cleaning staff, other personnel in hospitals, staff of doctor’s offices, laboratories, medical procurement, pharmacies)
  • Operationally necessary personnel in the care sector
  • Operationally necessary personnel and key functionaries in public institutions and authorities at federal and state level, senate administrations, district offices, state offices and subordinate authorities, public unemployment agencies and public assistance and emergency services
  • Staff to ensure emergency care in day nurseries and schools
  • Supermarkets and groceries staff
  • Other personnel required for critical infrastructure and basic services

A detailed list of those professions can be found on the website of the Senate Administration for Education on emergency care.

Closure of facilities for people with disabilities

Workshops and day care centres for people with disabilities are also closed now. Emergency care is available when relatives work in professions "necessary for the maintenance of public life, particularly in the fields of health, nursing, public safety and care".

Exempted from this rule are facilities for people with disabilities who are themselves involved in or assist in the field of medicine or care – such as laundries or kitchens.

Restrictions on public transport

Currently, a holiday timetable applies for buses and trams. All underground lines are running every 10 minutes, but Berlin’s public transport service BVG wants to add trains if necessary to avoid crowding. The U55 between the main station and the Brandenburg Gate has been completely discontinued.

Four tram lines, lines 16/18 and 37/67, have also been completely discontinued but other lines run the same route. All public transport stops are being served currently in Berlin. Further information about the new timetables can be found here.

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