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FAQ (frequently asked questions) on the subject of coronavirus

On this page you can find a list of the most frequent questions and answers that we are currently receiving on the subject of coronavirus. They are continuously being updated, supplemented and adapted to further developments. The questions and answers published relate to the ordinance on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic [Verordnung zur Bekämpfung der Corona-Pandemie], applicable as of 02 November 2020. We will constantly keep you informed, also on Saarland’s social media channels, of all new developments.

What contact can I have with other people?

The most important action to be taken in the time ahead is to maintain social distancing and reduce contacts. For this reason, all our citizens are required to restrict contact with other people with the exception of the members of their own household to the absolute minimum necessary.

This rule does not apply to contact with spouses, life partners, civil union partners, relatives in the direct line of descent, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and members of their respective households (designated family circle).

All our citizens are requested generally to refrain from unnecessary private travel or visits – even to relatives.

How many people can I still meet with?

You may only meet in public spaces with members of your own household and one other household or the designated family circle, the maximum number of people allowed to gather being 5.

Contact in private spaces is restricted to the members of your own household and maximum 5 other people from another household or the designated family circle.

Children up to the age of 14 from the (extended) household or designated family circle do not count towards the total number of people meeting.

Which stores, businesses and other facilities must close, which remain open?

Institutions and facilities providing leisure activities must close. These include

  • Theatres, operas, concert halls and museums
  • Fairs, cinemas, amusement parks and providers of recreational activities (indoors and outdoors)
  • Gaming centres, casinos, bookmakers
  • Recreational and amateur sports activities on and in all public and private sports facilities, including the operation of dance schools (exception: individual sport carried out alone, in twos or with your own household)
  • Swimming pools, water parks, saunas and thermal baths
  • Fitness studios

Not included in these closures – subject to the contact restrictions – are public playgrounds, wildlife parks, zoos and libraries, as well as facilities providing social and youth welfare services and similar welfare institutions. 

The closure of restaurants, bars, clubs, discos, pubs and similar facilities is mandatory, with the exception of delivery and collection of take-away food and drinks for consumption at home and the operation of canteens.

The operation of hotels, campsites and other accommodation facilities as well as the provision of any accommodation whatsoever for private tourist purposes is prohibited. The only exceptions to this rule are stays for professional purposes or for unavoidable personal reasons.  

Services involving physical proximity may continue to be provided subject to strict observance of the regulations set down in the relevant hygiene framework plan.

Prohibited are the provision of sexual services and the practice of prostitution.

What rules apply to stores (wholesale and retail)?

The wholesale and retail trade overall remains open. This is subject to hygiene rules (incl. mandatory wearing of a mask, social distancing), avoiding queues and monitoring entry. 

It is necessary to restrict the total number of customers and visitors present at any one time in stores, facilities, complexes, and other businesses. Only one person is permitted to enter per 10 m2 in a business open to the public covering a total area of up to 800 m2. If the total area is above 800 m2, only one person per 20 m2 may enter.  However, provided the social distancing rule is observed, four customers or visitors are permitted to enter at any one time irrespective of the total area.

What rules apply to events?

Events providing entertainment are prohibited.

In general, other types of events may only take place if no more than ten people are expected to attend. It is necessary to notify the competent local police authorities of the event in advance and to guarantee full traceability of the participants.

Events and gatherings with a greater number of people are only permitted if there is an urgent and unavoidable legal or substantive need for them to take place. Further hygiene measures specific to events must be implemented. These can be found, amongst other places, in the sample hygiene plan for holding events.

The rules of social distancing of minimum 1.5 meters and wearing a face covering must be observed for the entire duration of the event.

The local police authorities are authorised to prohibit pyrotechnics (fireworks) being set off in busy squares and streets. The organisation of public firework displays is prohibited.

What rules apply to funerals?

Advance notification of funerals must be given to the competent local police authorities. As a rule, up to 10 people are allowed to attend. The local police authorities can and should grant exemptions in individual cases provided they are sustainable from the perspective of legislation to protect against infectious diseases. Full traceability must be guaranteed. The rules of social distancing of minimum 1.5 meters and wearing a face covering must be observed for the entire duration.

What rules apply to catering?

Restaurants, bars, clubs, discos, pubs and similar facilities are closed, with the exception of delivery and collection of take-away food and drinks for consumption at home and the operation of canteens. The wearing of a face covering in this case is mandatory.

The sale and supply of alcoholic drinks between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am remain prohibited.

What rules apply to schools and day care centres/nurseries?

The Federal and State Governments agree that childcare facilities and schools continue to have top priority – specifically to provide services, in general, for attendance. A number of protective measures have been adopted to ensure health protection and infection prevention. For example, lesson models alternative to the attendance of older schoolchildren should be applied if the regional or local infection rate so dictates. In addition, the test strategy has been and is continually being optimised and supplemented, for example, with rapid antigen tests.

The local public transport network is essential to keep schools going. Depending on utilisation it is not always possible to guarantee social distancing. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to wear a face covering. An appraisal by virologists indicates that, if everybody does, travelling on the local public transport network is sustainable. In order to further reduce this risk and to regulate the flow of schoolchildren travelling the State Government is already helping carriers out with extra buses. A corresponding conveyance programme was launched and so-called reinforcement buses (Verstärkerbusse) have been operating in many local communities for several weeks now. In order to even out the flow of schoolchildren travelling even further, measures such as staggered school starting times can be introduced by schools.

What rules apply to sports activities?

As a rule, recreational and amateur sports activities on and in all public and private sports facilities, including the operation of dance schools, are prohibited.

This does not apply to individual types of sport carried out alone, in twos or with your own household).

Competitions and training in professional sports are permitted provided the established hygiene regulations are observed. However, spectators are not allowed to attend.

When and where do I have to wear a face covering?

A face covering should be worn in public spaces, especially when you come into contact with vulnerable people.

In principle, everyone from the age of 6 must also wear a face covering, unless the obligation conflicts with health reasons, especially in the following situations:

  • Employees and passengers using local public transport, and at stations, airports, bus stops and in waiting areas (proof is to be provided for those exempt from this obligation due to health reasons)
  • Employees and customers at markets and stores, as well as corresponding waiting areas and car parks
  • Employees and customers of services involving physical proximity, provided this does not conflict with the nature of the service
  • Employees of restaurants, other catering facilities and accommodation providers, provided this does not conflict with the industrial safety provisions or equivalent measures to protect against infection are in place, and also guests (e.g. when collecting food)
  • All visitors to religious services and prayer gatherings
  • Visitors to hospitals, care homes, rehabilitation centres, doctors’ surgeries, dentists and therapists, as well as outpatient hospital services and other healthcare facilities
  • Visitors at events at any time of the event – also in their allocated seat
  • Visitors and customers during their entire stay in enclosed spaces accessible to the public or as part of visitor or customer traffic
  • People at the workplace, including industrial premises, provided this does not conflict with any industrial safety provisions; this does not apply to the workplace if it is possible to adhere to the social distancing rule of minimum 1.5 meters or other equivalent measures to protect against infection are guaranteed.

The local police authorities also have the possibility to make the wearing of a face covering mandatory in certain public spaces with high footfall figures.

The full set of regulations on the so-called obligation to wear a face covering can be found in § 2 of the ordinance on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

When and how do I get a coronavirus test?

The following groups of people can get a test:

  • New admissions to a hospital, rehabilitation centre or care home
  • Symptomatic people, whose symptoms indicate a Covid 19 infection
  • People who have been in contact with an infected person
  • People who have received an alert from the coronavirus warning app
  • People entering and returning to Saarland who have stayed in a risk area (at the test centre in Saarbrücken)
  • Employees of educational establishments (at the test centre in Saarbrücken)
  • Randomly chosen members of the public and employees of care homes or facilities for the disabled

As a rule, it is not possible for you to get a test without a valid reason. There must be specific points of reference to justify the test, such as contact with an infected person. However, a GP (general practitioner) can carry out a test, in which case you must bear the costs incurred yourself.

NB: If you have symptoms indicating a coronavirus infection, it is essential that you call your GP for testing and treatment. It is not possible to test symptomatic people at the test centre.

In the case of infection having been established, it is generally the public health departments that decide on all further measures to be taken. As a rule, anyone who has come into direct contact with the person infected is tested and must go into quarantine. In general, contact people in category II (no direct or only brief contact, or contact with another contact person) are not initially tested.

It is possible for anyone belonging to an eligible group of people to book a test online on www.testzentrum.saarland.de. The website also answers further questions on tests on its FAQ page.  

Do I have to go into quarantine after entering or returning to Saarland from abroad?

As a rule, anyone entering or returning to Saarland from a risk area abroad must go into quarantine for 10 days.  This also applies to anyone who entered the Federal Republic of Germany initially in another federal state. A negative test result for infection with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 may allow release from quarantine after five days at the earliest; in other words, it is necessary to wait at least five days after entering the Federal Republic of Germany before taking the test required.  

This rule does not apply to, amongst others,

  • people who have stayed in a risk area within the framework of border traffic with neighbouring countries for fewer than 72 hours or who are staying in Saarland for no more than 24 hours
  • people who are cross-border commuters (resident in Saarland/work in a risk area or resident in a risk area/work in Saarland)
  • people who enter Saarland for urgent medical treatment
  • people who have a good reason to travel, in most cases from a social aspect (support or care for someone in need of protection, shared custody, visit from partner, visit from first-degree relatives ), as well as for training and study purposes.

The full set of regulations can be found in the ordinance on quarantine measures for people entering and returning to Saarland on the fight against coronavirus, which came into effect on 09 November 2020.  

What rules apply to travelling inside Germany?

Travelling inside Germany is generally permitted. However, all our citizens are urgently requested to refrain from any unnecessary travel – especially in the form of tourism. Travel to relatives should also be avoided as far as possible.

Can I travel through France to go to another country?

France has been in lockdown since 30 October. That means that anyone leaving their home is required to complete a form for permission to move about outside. This rule applies all over French national territory and to anyone to be found in France. According to the French authorities, a total of 100,000 checks have already been carried out since 30 October and 5,000 fines imposed.

There are three different forms, which have been translated into German to help Saarland’s citizens complete these certificates:

Fahrten nach Frankreich

It is necessary to tick the reason for an exemption on the respective form and to attach documents to prove that the exemption is essential.

Possible reasons for an exemption are

  • professional activity
  • educational purposes
  • medical consultations and treatments
  • compelling family reasons, to support vulnerable people or childcare

Only those exemptions specified on the forms apply to travel to another country from Saarland through France. Otherwise, such ‘transit journeys’ are not permitted.

As an employer, must I sign a certificate for my employees living in France?

Yes. You must complete the following certificate to allow your employees to travel to work:

Reisen berufliche Zwecke

The German version serves as an aid on how to complete the form. However, solely the French certificate is valid In France. If subject to a check, the employee need only present this permanent certificate.

As a citizen of Saarland with an account in a French bank, can I travel to this bank?

Yes. In this case, please tick the following on the French certificate: Running necessary errands to purchase items for professional activity, or basic commodities available in the businesses allowed to provide services, order collection or home deliveries.

My partner and I are not married, nor do we live together in a civil partnership: Can he/she come to Saarland and vice versa without risking a fine if subject to a check by French police?

In principle, the following applies: Anyone who wishes to leave their home in France during lockdown is required to complete an exemption certificate, selecting the applicable reason from those permitted.

In response to the enquiry made by Saarland’s authorities, the prefecture Grand Est explained that it is necessary to tick the box ‘motif impérieux’ (= compelling reason) if you wish to visit your partner.