STAY AT WWU AND ASSISTANCE
Under which conditions is the stay of international researchers (doctoral students, postdocs, scholarship holders, professors etc.) at the University of Münster possible?
Generally speaking, the stay of international researchers at WWU is permitted at present. Nonetheless, host institutes and visiting researchers should carefully consider whether a stay is appropriate and necessary. The global situation is extremely dynamic due to the Covid-19 pandemic: short-term lockdowns, airline cancellations, changing national and international regulations make medium-range planning close very difficult. Some researchers have been prevented from boarding their flights at the airport. The currently valid official rules on departure, arrival and visits of incoming academics provide the framework for the provisions of the WWU. In this context, the hosts are responsible for international researchers in their respective working group. Support from the central administration is provided within the scope of possibilities through generic guidelines and advice, but does not include “corona services” such as personal assistance during quarantine etc.
How does WWU support international researchers from risk areas after arrival?
No matter where the international researcher lives in Münster, i.e. at a WWU guesthouse or private apartment, for people arriving from risk areas as designated by the Robert-Koch-Institute
a domestic quarantine of at least 5 days is recommended. Therefore, the hosting institute is asked to assist her/him by providing the necessary support (shopping, SIM card and/or Internet connection, etc.). It is also useful to exchange mobile phone numbers between the researcher and the host. Especially if the newly arrived person shows symptoms of disease, this will allow contacting a medical doctor or the emergency number.
Who provides information to international researchers apart from the departments?
For further information, contact the specific persons in charge, as follows:
- PhD students = Graduate Centre
- Postdocs, scholarship Holders, professors, administrative staff = Welcome Centre of the International Office, Audrey Busch firstname.lastname@example.org and Maria Homeyer email@example.com
- Employment contracts = HR department, Stefan Schurmann
- Issues concerning researchers from Brazil = Anja Grecko and Katy dos Santos
Which entry regulations currently apply to international researchers?
Detailed information on the EU entry regulations, as applied by the German government, can be found on the webpage of the Foreign Ministry https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/einreiseundaufenthalt/coronavirus .
Entry rules at present differentiate between:
1. Arrival from countries with unrestricted entry – check the website of the Ministry of the Interior https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/DE/themen/bevoelkerungsschutz/coronavirus/reisebeschraenkungen-grenzkontrollen/reisebeschraenkungen-grenzkontrollen-liste.html#f13738796 (only in German) for current list and check for updates regularly
2. Arrival from countries with restricted entry - all others
German federal law regulates the conditions for travellers entering the country, as laid out in the first paragraph. However, some federal regulations delegate the responsibility to the German states. At present, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has no specific provision regarding the arrival from risk-areas, but gives some indications on a FAQ page related to the Corona pandemic https://www.land.nrw/de/wichtige-fragen-und-antworten-zum-corona-virus#70088aff (only in German). Caution: the English pages under https://www.land.nrw/de/corona-multilingual might be outdated. The city of Münster has some specific information on this page https://www.muenster.de/corona.html (only in German).
Before planning your stay, you should check whether entry from your country of origin is currently possible from a legal point of view. Normally entry visas are required for researchers from non-EU countries (check https://www.uni-muenster.de/forschung/en/wissenschaftler/formales/Visum.html). However, several German embassies and consulates operate on a reduced schedule and others are even closed. In some cases, the visa applications are outsourced to private enterprises, which don´t process all visa categories and often don´t have specific expertise on researcher visas. Especially traveling with family members proves difficult.
In addition, in case of restricted entry, travellers must provide proof that there is a “special need” for their trip, e.g. the contract-based position they intend to accept has to be specified as “work which cannot be postponed or carried out abroad”. For more information on this condition, check the following link: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/travel-restrictions-border-control/travel-restriction-border-control-list.html#f14104798.
When applying for a researcher visa based on §18d, a signed hosting agreement, funding proof and/or employment contract are necessary. For the Blue Card visa and for doctoral students other rules are valid. The urgency form, required until 11 September 2020, is no longer obligatory, but still might be useful. You can obtain indications on the different visa categories applicable for researchers from the Welcome Centre. Still international researchers should request information from the German embassy or closest consulate in their home country to find out whether a visa application can be submitted and which procedures must be observed at the start of their trip.
OBLIGATIONS AFTER ARRIVAL
Which obligations do international researchers have after their arrival? (21 December 2020)
Every person, who stayed in a country classified as a risk area by the Robert Koch Institute in the past 10 days (https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html - please check daily), must fill in the digital entry form (https://www.einreiseanmeldung.de/#/), which is obligatory since November 8th. It is automatically forwarded to the local public health authority.
On demand, the local health office can request the proof of a negative Coronavirus test in German, English or French language, which has to be produced as a paper or digital document. This test should have been carried out maximum 48 hours prior to the arrival in Germany. To verify if a test from your country of origin is accepted, please check the website of the Robert Koch-institute: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Tests.html .
The federal government foresees a domestic quarantine of 10 days after the arrival from a risk area, which can be lifted earliest after 5 days with a negative Coronavirus test result. This provision has been cancelled by a court ruling in North Rhine-Westphalia. Still a quarantine of at least 5 days is urgently recommended by the City of Münster and WWU, to avoid the danger of infection for new colleagues and other fellow citizens. Afterwards the University of Münster recommends carrying out a Coronavirus test (see next point). Please take note that as of 21 December 2020 for persons arriving from Great Britain and South Africa the obligation to quarantine is reintroduced also in NRW! The corresponding provision can be found under this link https://www.mags.nrw/sites/default/files/asset/document/201220_coronaeinrvo_vk_und_rsa.pdf (PDF) [de].
If you come from a country designated as a risk area by the Robert Koch Institute on the date of your departure and plan to stay at a WWU guesthouse, you have the possibility to access a Coronavirus test free of charge, after a voluntary 5-day quarantine. There are also specific rules you must observe. These are published on the “Guest accommodation” page of the Welcome Centre website.
Further questions and answers, when entering Germany from risk areas, can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/coronavirus-infos-reisende/faq-tests-einreisende-englisch.html . Also, be aware of the latest regulations applicable in North Rhine-Westphalia https://www.land.nrw/de/corona-multilingual.
Also, consider that violations of the Corona safety ordinance in North Rhine-Westphalia are covered with penalties.
Any incoming researcher is strongly recommended to install the Corona Warning App developed by the German government on his/her smartphone. The app is also available in English https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/corona-warn-app/corona-warn-app-englisch and other languages.
COVID-19 TESTING AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
Where can international researchers from risk areas carry out a Covid-19 test after arriving in Münster?
(1) If you live in the WWU guesthouses, we strongly recommend you to stay in domestic quarantine for five days after arrival, after which you can be tested free of charge by the WWU Employee´s Medical Service (AMD). In this case, the following procedure applies:
a. First, you have to fill out and sign a data protection policy and consent form, so that the test result can be communicated to third parties (i.e. your hosting institute and the Welcome Centre). According to § 16 Abs. 2 of the state´s data protection law this declaration has to be signed by you personally. The form is placed in the apartment of each newly arrived guest and can also be requested from the Welcome Centre through the mail address firstname.lastname@example.org .
b. The host of the responsible department submits the appointment request by email to email@example.com. Once the appointment has been granted, the date is communicated to the researcher and the Welcome Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org). Appointment requests without the above mentioned data protection consent cannot be processed.
c. Moreover, please take note that the appointment for the test should be requested only when the international researchers has arrived in Münster already. Free slots are available within a few days, whereas the rebooking of already taken appointments is undesirable.
d. The AMD requires the following personal information from the researcher:
· first and last name
· place and date of birth
· date of arrival and country of origin
· department and host with postal address and phone number
e. The AMD checks if you are on the list of new arrivals in the guesthouses and then issues an appointment.
f. The test is administered at the AMD testing centre (Domagkstraße 28). The researchers are expected to reach the facility alone, following all necessary precautions (mouth-nose covering, etc.). A rental bicycle can be provided for this purpose by the department in cooperation with the Welcome Centre.
g. Test results should always be communicated in cc with the Welcome Centre to email@example.com .
(2) International researchers, who don´t live in the guesthouses, can also be tested privately at several medical practices around Muenster. It is recommendable to do this only after a voluntary domestic quarantine of at least 5 days. Otherwise, an infection with the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 cannot be excluded. On the following website, you will find all medical practices that offer Covid-19 testing: https://www.coronatestpraxis.de/ with a tool based on the postal code.
As of 15 December 2020, free testing for persons arriving from risk areas has been abolished. However, considering the reduced cost of a rapid test, the City of Münster and WWU definitely advise to carry it out. Most medical studies, which can be found through the above website link offer appointments within a few days and charge 25-40 Euros for a rapid test. For further information on testing options, please contact the Welcome Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What needs to be done in case of Covid-typical symptoms?
In case you show symptoms always retreat to voluntary quarantine and get in contact with a medical study, the local Corona hotline (Tel. 02 51/4 92-10 77) or – only in severe cases - the medical emergency number (Tel. 116 117). If you cannot obtain a test at your general practitioner, a list to the closest testing doctors according to the postal code can be found on this website https://www.coronatestpraxis.de/. In alternative, you can be tested without an appointment - but with a longer queue – at the MEDIS test centre on Albert-Schweitzer-Straße 11 [Container 2]. The opening hours are Monday to Friday 8 am until 4 pm and on the weekends and holidays from 9 am until 1 pm.