FAQ (frequently asked questions) on the subject of coronavirus
On this page you will find a list of the most frequently asked questions and answers we are currently receiving on the subject of the coronavirus. These are continuously being updated, added to, and adapted in line with further developments. The questions and answers published relate to the regulations to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which will apply from 16 December, 2020. We will also keep you up to date on all new developments on Saarland's social media channels.
How much contact am I allowed to have with other people?
The most important measure in the upcoming period is to keep your distance and reduce contact with others. That is why everyone is required to reduce contact with other people outside of their own household to an absolutely necessary minimum.
This does not apply to contact with spouses, civil partners, and unmarried partners who live together, as well as immediate relatives, siblings, siblings' children, and their respective household members (referred to as “family group members”).
All citizens are requested to refrain from unnecessary private trips and visits in general – including to or from relatives.
How many people can I still meet with?
You can only meet up in public with multiple people if they are members of your own household, members of one other household, or members of the family group, and up to a maximum of 5 people.
Visits to or from members of one other household or family group members are permitted in private as long as the total number of people present at the same time is no more than five.
Children up to 14 years of age who are family group members or part of the (other) household are excluded from this limit.
What special regulations apply at Christmas?
The following regulations apply only between 24 and 26 December, 2020:
Meeting up in public with multiple people is only permitted with members of your own household and with up to four additional people. This maximum of 4 additional persons may only include members of the family group and one other person who is not part of the family group.
In private, the contact restrictions apply to members of a household and up to 4 additional people. This maximum of 4 additional persons may only include members of the family group and one other person who is not part of the family group.
Children up to 14 years of age who are family group members or who are the children of the one other person are excluded from this limit.
What are the rules for New Year's Eve?
Public firework displays are prohibited. We strongly advise against lighting fireworks on New Year's Eve in general, considering the high risk of injury and the already enormous burden on the healthcare system as well.
Gatherings are generally prohibited on 31 December, 2020, and 1 January, 2021.
In addition, the local police authorities can prohibit both the igniting of pyrotechnics and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in busy squares and streets.
Which businesses and facilities have to close, which ones can stay open?
It is forbidden to open retail stores or commercial premises that require customers to enter to receive services or works.
Only the following facilities are exempt from closing:
- Food shops (including beverage shops and weekly market stalls whose range of goods corresponds to that of permitted retail establishments)
- Direct food sellers
- Pick-up and delivery services
- Pet supplies and animal feed stores
- Banks and savings banks
- Pharmacies, drug stores and medical supply stores, health food stores
- Opticians and hearing care professionals
- Post offices and other mail order collection points
- Petrol stations, service stations
- Dry cleaners and laundromats
- Newspaper kiosks, newspaper outlets
- Online retail
- Baby supplies stores
- Christmas tree sellers
- Workshops and repair shops
- Healthcare providers and healthcare professionals
Mixed ranges in self-service department stores or full-range stores, as well as in discount stores, supermarkets, and other shops, may be sold if the permitted range of products predominates in the entire range of goods ("main focus principle").
Institutions and facilities that can be classified as recreational facilities will be closed. These include theatres, opera houses, concert halls, and museums; trade fairs, cinemas, amusement parks, and leisure activity providers (indoors and outdoors); amusement arcades, casinos, betting agencies; all public and private sports facilities with the exception of open-air facilities; swimming pools and water parks, saunas and thermal baths; gyms and fitness studios.
Public playgrounds, wildlife parks, zoos, and libraries, as well as social and youth welfare institutions and comparable social institutions are exempt from closing, taking into account the contact restrictions.
Restaurants, bars, clubs, discos, pubs, and similar establishments will remain closed. The delivery and collection of take-away food and drinks for consumption at home and the operation of canteens are exempt.
The operation of hotels, accommodation establishments, and campsites, as well as the provision of any kind of accommodation for private tourist purposes, are prohibited. The only exceptions to this are stays for work or unavoidable personal reasons. Running tourist coach trips, boat trips, and similar services is not permitted.
The provision of services that involve close physical contact is prohibited. This does not apply to the provision of medically necessary treatments and services by healthcare providers and healthcare professions, which must be carried out in compliance with special hygiene concepts.
It is prohibited to provide sexual services and to engage in prostitution.
What restrictions apply to open shops and facilities?
The total number of customers and visitors present at the same time must be limited in shops, institutions, facilities, and businesses that are in principle allowed to open. Only one person per 15 square meters of the accessible total or sales area may enter.
If the minimum distance is observed, four customers or visitors are always permitted to enter, regardless of the total or sales area.
In addition, wearing a mask is mandatory in and in front of shops, including in the associated waiting areas, queues, and car parks.
What are the rules for events?
Events for entertainment purposes are prohibited.
Other types of events can only take place if no more than ten people are expected to attend. The responsible local police authority must be notified of such events in advance and full traceability must be guaranteed.
Events and gatherings with a higher number of people are only permitted if there is an urgent and irrefutable legal or actual need for them to be held. Further event-specific hygiene measures must be implemented. These can be found in the sample hygiene plan for events, among other places.
The minimum distance of 1.5 meters must be maintained and masks must be worn during the entire duration of the event.
The local police authorities are authorized to prohibit the ignition of pyrotechnics and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in busy squares and streets. Public firework displays are prohibited.
What rules apply to funerals?
The responsible local police authorities must be notified of funerals in advance. In principle, up to ten people can attend. The local police authorities can and should issue special permits for this purpose, provided this is justifiable in individual cases in view of infection prevention regulations. Complete traceability must be guaranteed. The minimum distance of 1.5 meters must be maintained and masks must be worn for the entire duration.
What are the rules for catering establishments?
Restaurants, bars, clubs, discos, pubs, and similar establishments will be closed.
The delivery and collection of take-away food and drinks for consumption at home and the operation of canteens are exempt. It is mandatory to wear a mask.
The sale and supply of alcoholic beverages is prohibited between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
What are the rules for schools and kindergartens?
Contacts are also to be further restricted at schools and day-care centres between 16 December, 2020, and 10 January, 2021. In accordance with the resolution of the Conference of State Premiers, children and young people should stay at home during this time if possible. Adapted educational services will be provided at schools to ensure that children are looked after if necessary. Needs-based care will also be provided at day-care centres.
The Ministry of Education and Culture provides detailed information on the regulations for schools and day-care centres at FAQ - Informationen zu den aktuellen Regelungen an Schulen und KiTas
What are the rules for sports?
Recreational and amateur sports, including dance lessons, are prohibited. The only exceptions are individual sports practiced alone, in pairs, or with your own household.
All public and private sports facilities, with the exception of open-air facilities, are to be closed.
Competitions and training for professional athletes on the Olympic, potentials, junior, Paralympic, and state teams are permitted. The use of sports facilities is permitted for this purpose. In all cases, the use must be justifiable in view of infection prevention regulations and take place in compliance with hygiene requirements. Spectators are not permitted.
Where and when must a mask be worn?
A mask must be worn in public spaces whenever you come into more than just brief contact with people who are not part of your own household, if the minimum distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained.
In addition, people aged 6 and over must always wear a mask, provided that they are not exempt for health reasons, in the following areas in particular:
- by staff and customers when using public transport, as well as at train stations, airports, bus and tram stops, and in waiting areas (you must provide evidence if you are exempt for health reasons)
- by staff and customers at markets and in shops, as well as in the associated waiting areas, queues, and car parks
- by staff and customers of services that involve close physical contact, provided the nature of the service does not conflict with this
- by staff at restaurants, catering, and accommodation establishments, as long as there are no occupational health and safety regulations to the contrary or another equivalent infection protection measure is guaranteed, as well as by guests (e.g. when picking up food), including in any queues
- anyone attending church services and communal prayers
- when visiting hospitals, preventive care and rehabilitation facilities, in the practices of doctors, dentists, and therapists, as well as at outpatient care services and other healthcare facilities
- Anyone attending events at all times during the event – even at a permanently assigned place
- Visitors and customers whenever in enclosed spaces that are accessible to the public or as part of visitor or customer traffic
- People in workplaces and business facilities, unless there are occupational health and safety regulations to the contrary; this does not apply at the work station, provided that the minimum distance can be maintained there or another equivalent infection prevention measure is guaranteed.
In addition, the local police authorities have the option to make wearing a mask mandatory in certain heavily frequented public places.
The full regulations on mandatory mask wearing can be found in § 2 of the ordinance on combating the coronavirus pandemic.
When and how do I get a coronavirus test?
The following groups can receive a test:
- New admissions to a hospital, rehabilitation facility, or nursing home
- People with symptoms indicative of a Covid-19 infection
- Contact persons of infected persons
- People who have been alerted via the Corona-Warn-App contact tracing app
- Inbound and returning travellers / people who have been to a high-risk area (at the Saarbrücken test centre)
- Employees in educational institutions (at the Saarbrücken test centre)
- Random testing of residents and employees in nursing homes or facilities for people with disabilities
Tests are usually not possible without a specific reason. There must be specific indications, such as contact with an infected person, to get a test. Nevertheless, a general practitioner can administer a test. In this case, you must bear the costs incurred yourself.
Important: if you have symptoms that indicate a coronavirus infection, you must call your general practitioner and get a test and treatment from them. Symptomatic people cannot be tested at the test centre.
If an infection is detected, the health authorities generally decide on all further measures to be taken. As a rule, direct contact persons will receive a test and have to quarantine themselves. Category II contact persons (no direct contact or only brief contact or only contact with another contact person) do not normally receive a test at first.
Eligible persons can make appointments online at www.testzentrum.saarland.de. In addition, there are answers to further questions about tests here in an FAQ.
Do I have to go into quarantine after entering or returning to Saarland from abroad?
In principle, people arriving and returning from high-risk areas abroad have to quarantine for ten days. This also applies to people who first entered another state in the Federal Republic of Germany. A negative test result for infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can end the quarantine at the earliest after five days; the respective test can therefore be carried out at the earliest five days after entering the Federal Republic of Germany.
This does not apply to people
- who have stayed in a high-risk area for less than 72 hours as part of border traffic with neighbouring countries or who are not staying in Saarland for more than 24 hours.
- who are cross-border commuters either living in Saarland and working in the high-risk area or living in the high-risk area and working in Saarland.
- who are entering the state for urgent medical treatment.
- who have a valid reason for travel, mostly for social issues (assistance or care for vulnerable people, exercising custody rights, visiting their partner, visiting first-degree relatives), as well as for training and study purposes.
The full regulations can be found in the ordinance on quarantine measures for incoming and returning travellers to combat the coronavirus, which came into force on 9 November, 2020.
What rules apply to travelling inside Germany?
In principle, travel within Germany is permitted. However, all citizens are urged to refrain from unnecessary trips – especially those of a touristic nature. Travel to visit relatives should also be avoided at the moment if possible.
What are the rules for the curfew in France?
Since 15 December, 2020, there is no longer any requirement to provide an exemption form between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. in France. Travel to and within France is again permitted in this time window without an exemption form.
However, there is a strict curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., with the exception of 24 December, 2020. The French police will be carrying out numerous checks. Below, you will find the new night-time French exemption form in German and French, which must be carried with you in France between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. (otherwise you face a fine of €135).
Grocery stores and most other shops are open.
Restaurants, bars, museums, theatres, cinemas, casinos, zoos, and stadiums will be closed in France until 7 January.
The French government will be consulting again and possibly making new decisions on 7 January, 2021.
What are the rules for church services?
Church services and communal prayers are permitted in the open air and in churches, mosques, synagogues, and other premises that are used for the practice of religion guaranteed by the German constitution, as long as compliance with the limitation on the number of participants required for preventing infection while maintaining the minimum distance of 1.5 meters, as well as with the special protection and hygiene regulations, can be guaranteed. Congregational singing is prohibited in all premises.