The Berlin government agreed new Covid-19 measures which come into force on Wednesday. They include tighter rules on testing and mask-wearing – but they steer clear of a return to a strict lockdown.
Here’s a guide to how you can go shopping in the capital.
Are shops open and can I go to them?
Yes. Berlin recently allowed non-essential shops, such as clothes retailers and toy shops, to reopen after the shutdown with a “click and meet” system. This allowed people to book an appointment to visit a shop.
Instead of closing shops after Covid cases increased, Berlin has decided to introduce new measures in a bid to keep stores open to customers.
So “click and meet” has now been replaced with “test and meet”.
It means you don’t have to book an appointment before heading to the high street. However, you’ll have to be armed with an up-to-date negative coronavirus test result.
On top of this, distance must be maintained and only a few customers are allowed to be in a shop at one time. From Wednesday, FFP2 masks are required to be worn at all times (rather than just medical masks).
Operators of department stores and shopping centres are being urged by the Berlin government to organise testing stations for visitors on site.
Nils Busch-Petersen, managing director of the regional trade association, has already signalled the willingness of retailers to set up test stations in empty shop spaces or on parking areas, reported regional broadcaster RBB.
Do all shops require a negative test certificate to enter?
No. The testing obligation does not apply to “places of basic supply”, i.e. supermarkets, butchers, bakeries, pharmacies, DIY stores, drugstores, Spätis (late-night stores), opticians, weekly outdoor markets, petrol stations, bicycle and car repair shops, bookshops, and pick-up and delivery services of restaurants.
The below tweet by RBB shows the shops that do not need a test to enter.
#Berliner brauchen ab jetzt einen negativen #Coronatest zum Shoppen. Zu Hause durchgeführte #Selbsttests reichen nicht. Einige Geschäfte sind allerdings von der Regel ausgenommen https://t.co/oopR55WKSe pic.twitter.com/cUFOUWusVT
— rbb|24 (@rbb24) March 31, 2021
Does the new Berlin mandatory test also apply to hairdressing and cosmetics?
Yes – for body-related services such as beauty salons and hairdressers in Berlin, you’ll have to provide a negative test that was conducted on the same day as your appointment.
The same applies to visits to cultural institutions such as museums and galleries.
Where and when can coronavirus rapid tests be carried out in Berlin?
This website lists all testing stations and shows where you can book an appointment or queue for a test. There are around 160 different contact points, but the list is continuously growing.
Not all test centres are open on Sundays and public holidays. Pharmacies, for example, only offer tests within their business hours. Most other providers, including public ones, can be visited on Sundays and public holidays – including Easter.
Everyone in Germany is allowed to get one test a week – however, a report in the Tagesspiegel on Wednesday suggested people in Berlin could get one free test a day. We’ll let you know when we get more information on this.
Can I show a DIY test carried out at home as proof?
No. According to the Berlin rules, a rapid antigen test conduced by a professional at a testing centre has to be used.
Anecdotally, some businesses appear to be allowing people to carry out a self-administered test on site which they can show. But it is unclear if this is officially allowed.
People are also urged to take a test before a social gathering. Contact restrictions still state that two households can meet with up to five people in attendance, not including under-14s. Couples count as one household.
Is there an obligation to report a positive self-test to authorities?
No. However, anyone who takes a self-administered test that comes back positive should have it confirmed by a PCR test in the same way as a positive rapid antigen test and, as a precaution, quarantine themselves at home until the result is available.
Do I also have to present a test result if I have an item handed to me outside the shop?
No, the testing obligation for shops only applies as soon as you enter the shop. No test result is required for the handing over of goods outdoors. However, customers and shop workers should wear a medical mask.
There are special rules for the testing of workers in customer service. You can check out our story below.
How are test results documented?
According to the federal Health Ministry, every test centre should have a documentation system. After a rapid test, the person tested receives a certificate stating the result.
Similar certificates are kept by pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Test results are sent to those who have been tested either by e-mail, or printed out if requested.
Are vaccinated people exempt from compulsory testing?
No, vaccinated people are not currently exempt from proving a negative test.
Are people who have already contracted coronavirus exempt from compulsory testing?
No, people who have recovered from the virus are also not currently exempt from proving a negative test.
Do children have to be tested before entering a shop?
Only children under the age of six do not have to submit a negative test, according to broadcaster RBB.