From parties to the ‘rule of five’: What you need to know about Berlin’s latest coronavirus rules

From parties to the 'rule of five': What you need to know about Berlin's latest coronavirus rules
Bars in Berlin have to close at 11pm. Photo: DPA
Coronavirus measures are changing rapidly. Here's what you need to know about the latest rules in Berlin.

Where do you have to wear a mask? How many people are allowed to meet? And are birthday parties still allowed?

This is what you should keep in mind if you live in the capital or plan to visit.

Contact restrictions and 'rule of five'

The Senate recommends that physical social contacts be kept to a minimum, with a distance of at least 1.5 metres  maintained whenever possible. During sports, on buses and trains, when using services like hairdressers or in kindergartens, the distance “may be reduced below” 1.5m if necessary.

Since October 10th, however, the so-called curfew has also been in force. This means that between 11pm and 6am, only a maximum of five people or two households are allowed to gather in public spaces – this applies in particular to streets, parks and squares. The measure is in place until October 31st.

A similar restriction applies to indoor meetings. In this case one household can receive a maximum of five guests or two households may meet. Berlin's mayor, Michael Müller (SPD), called this the “rule of five”.

11pm curfew

The Berlin Senate has decided on a curfew for shops and restaurants. They are not allowed to open between 11pm and 6am – for the time being until October 31st. Only pharmacies are exempt and petrol stations are only allowed to offer gas (not other services).

Although the Berlin Administrative Court declared the curfew to be disproportionate, the decision only applies to the 11 bars which had filed a complaint against the regulation. All other shops/bars must remain closed. The Senate has lodged an appeal with the Higher Administrative Court and the proceedings are ongoing.

Clubs must remain completely closed. Steam saunas, spas and similar establishments can open with conditions.

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Compulsory masks

Masks have been compulsory on buses and trains for months. Mouth and nose coverings must also be worn in shops, schools (not in class for younger people), museums, cinemas, theatres, restaurants (if you are not sitting at your own table), doctors' surgeries, hospitals and nursing homes. Masks are also mandatory for taxi rides and indoor sports like in gyms (not during exercise).

Since October 3rd, masks are also compulsory in offices. Mouth and nose coverings must be worn when not at your desk.

For demonstrations with more than 100 participants, masks are also compulsory.

The obligation to wear masks in public places has been extended: from October 24th the rule will apply wherever the minimum distance of 1.5 m cannot be maintained: especially at markets, in waiting areas and in shopping zones.

Other streets affected are Tauentzienstraße, Kurfürstendamm, Schloßstraße, Wilmersdorfer Straße, Bergmannstraße, Karl-Marx-Straße, Bölschestraße, Alte Schönhauser Straße, Friedrichstraße and the entire old town of Spandau.

The Senate may introduce compulsory masks in other streets.

READ ALSO: These are the Berlin streets where you have to wear a mask

Private celebrations

Private celebrations or parties such as birthdays, weddings or anniversaries may still take place – but only to a very limited extent. Since October 20th, the Berlin Senate has limited the number of participants for celebrations in closed rooms to your own household plus five other people; alternatively, members of two households of any size can meet.

Outdoors, the maximum number of people has been reduced to 25 people (from October 24th).

The rules apply both to people's homes and to rented premises such as restaurants. All guests must write down their contact details and they must wear a mouth and nose covering when not sitting in their seat.

Public events

Public events are still permitted on a larger scale. That's because hygiene plans can be established and controlled at such events, authorities say.

Until December 31st, events are currently allowed in closed rooms with up to 1,000 people. Outdoor events with up to 5,000 people are allowed. However, this only applies if compliance with all distance and hygiene rules can be guaranteed.

Museums, theatres, galleries and libraries may also open. Visitors must wear a mouth-and-nose protection when not in their seat. For cultural events, guests must also provide their contact details.

A cinema worker in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Hospitality

Restaurants, snack bars and pubs may be open until 11pm. Buffets are also allowed. Distance and hygiene rules must be observed. Anyone leaving their table must wear a face mask. A maximum of six people may sit at tables with a small distance between them – larger groups are not permitted.

Guests inside and outside of restaurants must register their contact details. Since the beginning of September, guests have also been obliged to give full (and correct) details in these lists. If they are caught violating the rules a fine of between €50 and €500 can be imposed. Caterers must check the information for plausibility.

Sport

For sport lovers there are exceptions to the usual distance rules. Training is again allowed indoors and outdoors. Contact sports are also permitted again in many cases: this applies to professional athletes as well as to fixed training groups in team sports, as long as these do not exceed 30 people.

Competitions are permitted in all sports. Spectators are also allowed (up to the upper limits explained above), provided that hygiene and distance rules are observed. Fitness studios and all outdoor and indoor swimming pools are open. However, tickets must be booked for pools. At indoor swimming pools especially, the number of visitors is limited.

Political demonstrations

There is no limit to the number of participants in public meetings or demonstrations – neither in closed rooms nor outside. However, distance rules have to be observed, so the number of participants allowed depends on the meeting place.

Before meetings, organisers must draw up a plan of how the rules of distance and hygiene are to be guaranteed. There is also an obligation to wear masks at demonstrations with more than 100 people, but the assembly authority can also order masks for smaller protests, for example when singing or chanting is involved.

Fines of up to €25,000 can be slapped on those who violate the Protection against Infection Act in Berlin.

We corrected this story on October 26th to say saunas can be open with conditions


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