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. In Germany, research stays fall under the category of essentially necessary reasons to travel and are therefore allowed (see the questions on the topic of “Entry regulations”). Nonetheless, host institutes and visiting researchers should carefully consider whether a stay is appropriate and necessary. The global situation is extremely dynamic and short-term lockdowns, airline cancellations, etc. lead to a changed scenario, just as the various regulations at international and national level. The currently valid official rules on departure, arrival and visits of incoming academics provide the framework for the provisions of the WWU.
How does WWU support international researchers after arrival?
The responsibility for international academics lies with the inviting department. The central administration will provide support as much as possible through guidance and general advice, but cannot include “corona services” such as specific assistance with quarantine cases, etc. Regardless if incoming researchers live in the WWU guesthouses or privately, if they are arriving from risk areas they are obliged to retreat to domestic quarantine for at least 5 days or it is at least strongly recommendable to do so. This is prudent even for persons, who produce a negative Corona test result upon arrival. For information on the qualification of the country of origin, check daily updates on the website of the Robert Koch Institute: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html). Therefore, the hosting institute is asked to support the international academics with the necessary arrangements (shopping, sim card and/or internet access, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Postdocs, scholarship Holders, professors, administrative staff = Welcome Centre of the International Office, Audrey Busch email@example.com and Maria Homeyer firstname.lastname@example.org
- Employment contracts = HR department, Stefan Schurmann email@example.com
- Issues concerning researchers from Brazil = Anja Grecko and Katy dos Santos firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- Arrival from countries with unrestricted entry, i.e. EU-member states, countries from the Schengen-associated area (for example Norway, Switzerland and Island) and some Non-EU countries, as indicated on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (only in German): https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/DE/themen/bevoelkerungsschutz/coronavirus/reisebeschraenkungen-grenzkontrollen/reisebeschraenkungen-grenzkontrollen-liste.html#f13738796. Please check for latest updates.
2. Arrival from countries with restricted entry - all others. Moreover, from 30 January 2021 the entry from some countries designated by the RKI
(https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html;jsessionid=6429D8EF72634C4408A99E7F621632F5.internet062?nn=2444038) as “areas of variant of
concern” will be stopped with very few exceptions, presumably until 17 February 2021. Please check the websites of the Federal Foreign Office and Federal Ministry of the Interior for more information.
Please note: for countries of the first category “unrestricted entry”, pandemic protection requirements such as mandatory testing and quarantine still apply (see the FAQs on “Rules of conduct before and after arrival”).
In general, federal law regulates entering Germany. For this, check the FAQs on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, especially on “Restrictions on air and sea travel within and outside Europe”, but also on “Quarantine”: www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/DE/themen/bevoelkerungs
schutz/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.html. Various federal regulations refer to the jurisdiction of the German States (“Länder”), so please also look into the current entry regulations of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia on this website https://www.land.nrw/corona.
Concluding, explanations on the application of the rules in the city of Münster have to be considered too and can be found here https://www.muenster.de/corona.html.
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 have been 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.
Additionally, in the case of restricted entry, a proof must be provided that the stay in Germany has an important reason, e.g. employment with an employment contract where the "work cannot be postponed or carried out abroad". For more information on this condition, check the following link:
When applying for a researcher visa based on §18d, a signed hosting agreement https://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/EN/Forschung/Forschungseinrichtungen/08muster-aufnahmevereinbarung-deutsch-englisch.pdf;jsessionid=F42351EFFC32CBD1AB6AE42C69144D6C.internet571?__blob=publicationFile&v=6 , funding proof and/or employment contract are necessary. For the Blue Card visa and for doctoral students other rules are valid. The “declaration of urgency” required until recently is currently no longer necessary, but can still be helpful. You can obtain indications on the preparation of these documents and the different visa categories applicable for researchers from the Welcome Centre. In any case, 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 BEFORE AND AFTER ARRIVAL
Which obligations do international researchers have before and after their arrival?
All persons who have 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;jsessionid=6429D8EF72634C4408A99E7F621632F5.internet062?nn=2444038 – please check daily updates) must complete the digital entry registration form (https://www.einreiseanmeldung.de/#/), which has been mandatory since 8 November 2020.
Additionally, since 5 January 2021, travellers entering from countries designated as risk areas have the obligation to undergo a Covid-19 test and, generally, to retreat to quarantine. From 24 January, an additional distinction in the application of these rules has been made between (1) “normal” risk areas, (2) “high incidence areas” and (3) “areas of variant of concern”
- Persons from risk areas must undergo a COVID-19 test within 48 hours before or immediately after their entry. They are required to send the test result to the local health office by email to email@example.com within 48 hours of their entry, adding the exact date and time of arrival. Afterwards they must retreat to domestic quarantine, until they are notified by the health office about the removal of this measure. If they already have a negative test result upon arrival and notify the local health office on the same day, they are exempt from the quarantine requirement.
- Persons from high incidence areas must carry proof with them upon entry that they have been tested negative for an infection with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and present it to the competent authorities upon request. This test must be no older than 48 hours before entry. They are required to send the test result to the local health office by email to firstname.lastname@example.org within 48 hours of their entry, adding the exact date and time of arrival. Afterwards they must retreat to domestic quarantine, until they are notified by the health office about the removal of this measure. If they already have a negative test result upon arrival and notify the local health office on the same day, they are exempt from the quarantine requirement.
- Persons from areas of variant of concern must carry proof with them upon entry that they have been tested negative for an infection with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and present it to the competent authorities upon request. This test must be no older than 48 hours before entry. They are required to send the test result to the local health office by email to email@example.com within 48 hours of their entry, adding the exact date and time of arrival. At the same time, they must retreat to a 10-day domestic quarantine (calculated from the day of departure). From the 5th day onwards, they can take another Covid-19 test and - if they present a second negative test result - be released from quarantine by the local health office.
In all cases, a Corona rapid test is currently sufficient, but please keep up-to-date about possible changes of this policy. Proof of a negative test result must be provided on paper or as an electronic document. The document must be in German, English or French. The test carried out must also meet the requirements specified by the Robert-Koch institute here: https://www.rki.de/tests.
If a person has not complied with the test obligation, he/she must go into quarantine within 10 days after departure. This can be shortened by submitting a negative test result to the health department's email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Testing at your own expense is possible at all airports with flights from risk areas. Moreover, people without symptoms can be tested in many doctors' surgeries and in the municipal test centres (again paying themselves). To find the nearest testing option, use this link https://www.coronatestpraxis.de/. Only some categories of people are exempt from the quarantine or testing obligation, see here https://www.land.nrw/de/wichtige-fragen-und-antworten-zum-corona-virus#70088aff.
Even for those entering the country with a negative test result, WWU strongly recommends a domestic quarantine of at least 5 days, in order to avoid endangering new colleagues and other citizens. During this time, no visitors from outside the household are admitted. Afterwards, we advise to carry out another test to show whether there is an infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (see questions on "Testing and Medical Care").
Residents of the WWU guest houses have the option of free testing after a minimum of 5 days quarantine and need to follow special regulations, which they and their hosts can find in the “Guest accommodation” section of the Welcome Centre web pages.
Further questions and answers for people entering Germany from risk areas are published on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/ coronavirus-infos-reisende/faq-tests-einreisende.html#c18621. Additionally, compare this information with the most recent regulation of the Corona Protection Ordinance applicable in NRW: https://www.mags.nrw/coronavirus-rechtlicheregelungen-nrw.
Please also note that violations of the Corona Protection Ordinance applicable in NRW can be punished as administrative offences by the competent authorities.
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). This is valid even if current regulations eventually don´t oblige you to quarantine or you already produced a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival. To carry out the test please follow these steps:
- 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 email@example.com .
- The host of the responsible department submits the appointment request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the appointment has been granted, the date is communicated to the researcher and the Welcome Centre (email@example.com). Appointment requests without the above mentioned data protection consent cannot be processed.
- 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.
- 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
- The AMD checks if you are on the list of new arrivals in the guesthouses and then issues an appointment.
- 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.
- Test results should always be communicated in cc with the Welcome Centre to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2) Researchers from risk areas, who do not live in the guest houses of the WWU, must currently present or complete a negative test on arrival and report the result to the health office of the City of Münster (see the questions on the topic "Obligations before and after arrival"). Even if you can avoid the quarantine obligation with a negative test result on the day of arrival, we recommend that you seclude yourself for 5 days and have another test for the greater safety of your fellow citizens and colleagues. A link to find the nearest doctor's study for a test by zip code can be found here: https://www.coronatestpraxis.de/. The Welcome Centre can provide further information on testing facilities at email@example.com. A quick test at a cost between 25 and 40 Euros is affordable and highly recommended. Eventually reimbursement of the amount may be possible through your own scholarship provider.
How to proceed 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.