Travelling and testing

Reisen Englisch

Where am I allowed to travel to and what does the current travel warning mean?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 16:10  Uhr)

All citizens are urgently requested to avoid all kinds of unnecessary private travelling and visits – this includes also visiting family members. This applies also for national travelling and for supra-regional touristic trips. National overnight accomodation can only be provided in urgent cases and explicitly not for touristic purposes.

The Federal Foreign Office advises to avoid unnecessary touristic travelling to foreign countries, because drastic restrictions in international air travelling and tourism, restricted entries to many countries worldwide, quarantine measures and restrictions of the public life, like e.g. lockdowns still occur due to the spread of coronavirus.

A travel warning is an urgent appeal issued by the Federal Foreign Office - it is not a travel ban. Travelers assume the responsibility for their journeys individually and decide whether they wish to travel or not.

Here you can find a list of all countries for which there is currently a travel warning according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI): Information about the declaration of international risk areas.

Is it possible to do a cost-free corona test?


(Stand:  22. März 2021 14:00  Uhr)

Cost-free corona tests can be done in the following situations:

  • You show symptoms of an infection with the coronavirus (e.g. coughs and fevers, loss of your sense of taste).   Please call the doctor call system (116117), your general practitioner or one of the KVH emergency practices in Farmsen and Altona.
  • The Health Authority has ordered that you do a corona test. It will explain to you how the test will be carried out. 
  • You work in a (child) care facility, a day-care facility, a school, an inpatient or semi-inpatient facility for disabled persons or an outpatient integration service. Please contact your employer or the in-house medical service. 
  • It is mandatory to do a test before admission to a hospital, a care facility or an institution for disabled persons. The test is mandatory and free of cost. Please ask for the testing possibilities at the concerned facility.
  • You have received a positive antigen quick test result which must now be verified via a PCR test that will be carried out either directly at the test center, by your general practitioner or by an infection practice (https://eterminservice.de/terminservice). For this purpose you need a written confirmation of your test result.

Please note: As from the moment you receive the positive quick test result, it is mandatory for you to stay in quarantine! Therefore you are asked to avoid all kinds of contacts.
In Hamburg, all citizens are offered at least one free antigen quick test per week (overview: https://www.hamburg.de/corona-schnelltest/). These tests help to detect infections with the coronavirus in order to react to these infections. You can find the available test offers and book your appointment here: https://eterminservice.de/terminservice.

Here you can communicate your test results online to Hamburg’s Health Authority: www.hamburg.de/corona-kontakt.

By now, numerous laboratories and doctors offer corona tests for private purposes. Please consult the respective websites or call in order to ask for the costs and possible appointments. The German Red Cross (DRK) Hamburg-Harburg also offers corona tests for private purposes. Private persons can subscribe for a test by calling 040 / 554449222 and will be given an appointment for the test. They proceed to the sampling in their own vehicle. The total amount is 93 Euros. Circa 24 to 48 hours after the test, the tested persons can consult the results via a QR code on the website or by using the corona warn app on their smartphones.

For further information, please go to: www.drk-harburg.hamburg/meldungen-details/informationen-zu-corona.html.

I am returning from a foreign country. What do I have to do?


(Stand:  22. März 2021 14:00  Uhr)

Persons having been to a risk area at any given time within the 14 days before arriving in Hamburg must generally stay in quarantine for 14 days immediately after their arrival and generally inform the responsible Health Authority before entering the country. This applies for all persons travelling or returning to Germany, whether they arrive by plane, by train or by car. You are asked to inform the Health Authority via a digital registration form on the following website:  www.einreiseanmeldung.de which is also possible via your mobile device. A so-called „passenger locator card“ (Aussteigekarte) is also considered as a documentation of your entry. Furthermore, you must do a coronavirus test immediately after your arrival in the Federal Republic of Germany on your own responsibility and at your own expense (a PCR test or a quick antigen test). You can also do a test before your arrival. However, this test must have been carried out not more than 48 hours before your arrival and it must meet the specifications stipulated by the Robert Koch Institute (www.rki.de/covid-19-tests).

Please note: It remains mandatory to stay in quarantine for 14 days regardless of the test result.

All citizens of Hamburg can do a cost-free quick antigen coronavirus test once a week. Thanks to these tests, infections with coronavirus can be detected and it is possible to react to these infections. Furthermore, the tests provide safety for the tested persons. The map shows an overview of test centers and pharmacies offering cost-free quick tests. In addition, some medical practices offer test possibilities which may vary according to the capacities. Your can find the testing possibilities that are available in medical practices and make an appointment here: https://eterminservice.de/terminservice.

Please note: It remains mandatory to stay in quarantine for 14 days regardless of the test result.

Persons having been to a risk area presenting a very high risk of an infection with coronavirus within the 14 days before their arrival in Germany must already hold and be able to present on demand a negative coronavirus test result when entering the country.

A medical certificate or a negative test result are considered as evidence; both documents must not be older than 48 hours at the moment when you enter the country. This evidence must be provided either on paper or as an electronic document in German, English or French. You must keep this evidence for 14 days and present it on demand. You can find further information in the Decree in order to reduce the risk of infections after entering the Federal Republic of Germany in connection with Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 after the determination of an epidemic situation of national importance by the German Bundestag.

It is possible to do a further test after the end of the 5 days of quarantine at the earliest in order to reduce the time in quarantine (the test can be done in a doctor’s practice; please call your doctor beforehand and ask whether testing is possible or not. Otherwise you can call any other test provider). This test must absolutely be a PCR test; a quick antigen test is not sufficient. You must pay for the test. If you have not done a PCR test after the first 14 days after your arrival in Germany, it is mandatory to stay in quarantine for 14 days. If you have done a PCR test after 5 days at the earliest and you receive a negative test result, you can raise your quarantine autonomously before the period of 14 days ends. It is mandatory to conserve the test result for at least 10 days.

For persons having been to a high incidence area or a region / area where virus variants are present within the 14 days before their arrival in Germany, there is no possibility to do a further PCR test in order to raise quarantine prematurely when the result is negative. Persons returning to Germany from such an area / such a region must absolutely stay in quarantine for the full 14 days.

You can communicate your test results online to the responsible Health Authority in Hamburg via the following website:: www.hamburg.de/corona-kontakt.

There are exceptions from the obligation for quarantine that are described in §36 of the current decree: www.hamburg.de/verordnung. Please note: these exceptions do not apply for persons returning from areas where virus variants are present. The RKI lists these areas online here (http://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html) .

Risk areas are areas in foreign countries / areas representing an increased risk of an infection with the coronavirus. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) updates its list of these risk areas every day. This regular update is based on the current epidemiological situation.  What is essential is the situation at the moment when you actually return to Germany. Areas in Germany that represent a high number of corona cases (so-called high incidence regions) are no risk areas according to the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute. A short-time stay in a risk area, e.g. when having a break during your transit, is not considered as a stay and does hence not lead to an obligation for quarantine.

Please note: The exception from quarantine only applies if you do not show any symptoms indicating an infection with COVID-19. If you experience any symptoms within the first 10 days after your arrival in Germany, you must contact the responsible Health Authority immediately, which will inform you about the next steps to take. You can find out which Health Authority is responsible for you by entering your postal code here: https://tools.rki.de/PLZTool.

Are there any recognized self-tests that I can do at home?


(Stand:  9. März 2021 16:00  Uhr)

In February, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (BfArM)) has approved the first self-tests (also called self quick tests) in order to detect SARS-CoV 2. The self-tests that are currently approved can be purchased in stores, pharmacies and on the Internet. The samples for the self-tests are taken from the nose. For further information: https://www.zusammengegencorona.de/testen/selbsttest-fuer-den-nachweis-des-coronavirus-sars-cov-2/ . You can find an online list of the recognized quick tests here: (https://www.bfarm.de/DE/Medizinprodukte/Antigentests/_node.html).

It is not possible to do a self-test in order to raise the obligation for quarantine, and you cannot use self-tests in fields where testing is mandatory (e.g. when visiting a person in a care facility). In these situations, the sampling must be carried out and namely supervised by a professional.

Please note: A negative result of a self-test only represents a brief snapshot of the current situation. It is hence very important to continue adhering to the hygiene measures nevertheless.

It is urgently recommended to confirm a positive test result by a PCR test, because there can be false-positive results in the self tests. However, you should self-isolate at home and avoid all kinds of contacts until you receive the result of your PCR test.

Who can help me if I have a problem with the cancellation of a trip?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 16:10  Uhr)

You can find information about travelling and cancellations on the website of the consumer advice center in Hamburg (VZHH): Booking holidays despite corona? .The consumer advice center also provides consultation on site or by phone.

Am I entitled to compensation of a loss of earnings due to quarantine (isolation) after travelling to a risk area?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 16:15  Uhr)

According to the infection protection law, you are not entitled to any compensation or indemnity payments for lost earnings during the time that you are staying in quarantine at home.

Employers should notify their staff to get informed about the current quarantine rules and risk areas in due time before travelling to a foreign country and before returning to Germany, in order to avoid any interruptions of their work. In this context, employers should also point out the employment law situation.

Which rules apply for hotels, holiday homes and campsites?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 12:00  Uhr)

Overnight accommodation in tourist accommodation facilities and holiday homes, on campsites and in similar facilities in Hamburg is only permitted in urgent cases and explicitly not for touristic purposes.

This means that tourists are not allowed to stay in Hamburg overnight anymore.

  • The general hygiene rules must be adhered to. This includes among others the adherence to the distance rules.
  • Guests must submit their contact information to the operator in order to retrace infection chains.
  • It is prohibited to use saunas and jacuzzi tubs.
  • Dormitories for more than 4 persons are prohibited.
  • For travelers from foreign countries, the stipulations of §§ 35 and 36 of the legal decree apply.
  • Persons present indoor (except for the accommodation room) must adhere to the obligation to wear a mask according to § 8. It is only admitted to take off the mask when remaining permanently at ones seat.
  • Guests are allowed to take off their mask in the hotel room.

Please note: Tourists who are already staying in a hotel or in other accomodation facilities before November 2nd must leave the facility and stop their stay as soon as their departure is assured.

For more information about the measures, see §16 of the legal decree of June 30th, 2020

As a citizen of Hamburg, do I have to stay in quarantine when I return from a region in Germany with a high number of infections (incidence rate over 50)?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 16:20  Uhr)

No. Nevertheless you are asked to adhere to all rules applying for your travel destination while staying there.

For persons returning from a foreign country, please see the question: I am returning from a foreign country. What do I have to do?

What do I have to do until I receive my test result?


(Stand:  13. Januar 2021 14:50  Uhr)

You must stay in quarantine at home until you receive your test result. This means to stay at home and to avoid all kinds of contacts.

What are quick tests?


(Stand:  4. Dezember 2020 11:15  Uhr)

"Quick test" is not a legally protected term. It can designate antibody tests, antigen tests or so-called LAMP tests.

LAMP tests and antigen tests detect the virus directly, which means that they prove the acute presence of the virus, whereas antibody tests detect the patient’s immune response to the virus and hence only show retrospectively that a person has been infected before.

Antibody test: It is necessary to take a blood sample in which antibodies as an immune response to the virus are detected. Usually an antibody test shows a positive result one week after the first symtomps occur; however, this period can also be longer and in some cases, no antibodies can be detected at all, although the patient has undergone an infection. Therefore, these tests are not appropriate in order to detect an infection. Furthermore, the quality of the available tests in terms of sensitivity and specificity varies greatly. In addition, it is currently not possible to tell via an antibody test whether a person is immune to the virus and would thus be protected against a second infection or not.

Antigen test: This test detects protein components of the virus in a sample (swab) taken from the throat or nose. There are two different techniques: In the fluorescence method, marked antibodies detect viral proteins contained in the sample. This detection leads – simply put – to a light signal which can be proven by a laboratory device. Furthermore, there are great hopes for antigen tests that work like pregnancy tests. In this case, the test strip changes its colour when viral proteins are contained in the sample.

In the meantime, the latter method has been further developed so that these antigen quick tests are now used regularly, e. g. in care facilities and integration service facilities. „Without cause“ means that there is no suspicion of a SARS-CoV-2 infection because the concerned person does not show any symptoms or has not been in contact with an infected person as far as this is known.

Series of tests without cause are carried out for particularly vulnerable groups, such as persons living and working in care facilities as well as their visitors. Since the antigen quick tests are currently not as reliable as the PCR tests (lower sensitivity and specificity), each positive test result must be confirmed via a PCR test or another evidence for nucleic acid. Thanks to the regular repetitions of the tests, the lower sensitivity is compensated in the context of test series without cause. In addition, according to the current state of knowledge, the viral load of an infected person showing a negative antigen quick test result is probably so low that the risk of infection for other persons is very limited.

LAMP Test: In a so-called LAMP Test (loop-mediated isothermal amplification), the genetic material is reproduced, similar to the PCR method. However, this procedure is a little bit quicker than many other conventional PCR procedures and at best does not even require any complex laboratory devices. Nevertheless, the validation regarding the sensitivity and the specificity of these test methods is not yet completely finalized.

Sensitivity: The sensitivity indicates how many infected persons are actually detected as being infected. When the sensitivity is 70%, this means that 30 out of 100 infected persons have falsely not been detected, but they feel safe and think that they are not infected.

Specificity: The specificity indicates how many non-infected persons have been detected as false positive. These persons must stay in quarantine and do another test again later. In the context of the current relatively low frequency of infections, a specificity of 98% already means that out of the persons with a positive test result, more persons have been tested falsely positive than correctly positive. Persons with a false positive result must stay in quarantine and do another test later.

As a citizen of Hamburg, am I still allowed to visit family members and friends in other Federal States?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 00:00  Uhr)

There is no general prohibition to enter or leave a Federal State. However, the citizens are urgently requested to avoid all kinds of unnecessary private travelling and visits – this includes also visiting family members.

Please note that touristic overnight stays are not permitted. In general, the rules of the Federal State that you are staying in apply.

Please see also § 16 of the legal decree.

Does the prohibition of accomodation in Hamburg also apply for business travellers and non-touristic travellers from risk areas?


(Stand:  2. November 2020 16:30  Uhr)

No. Persons travelling for non-touristic purposes (e.g. business travelling, regulation of family-related matters, care for persons requiring assistance, execution of guardianships, medical treatment and company by family members) are exempt from the prohibition of accomodation.

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