Update 2022/01/10, to underline our intention: Despite Haptics Symposium decided to go online, EuroHaptics 2022 is still planned to take place in person! We are taking measures to allow some digital participation, but majority of program is going to be experienced best when being on-site! Even according today’s rules applicable in Germany an event of this size can be held with safety-measures and registrations in place.
So far it is unclear, which exact Covid-19 regulations will be in place during the EuroHaptics 2022. We are taking precautions to prepare for different level of digitalization of the conference, however our main target is to allow presenters to perform on stage and have a live experience and personal discussions on-site.
Subjective statement about the situation in Germany (Thorsten Kern, 2022/01/10):
Germany still suffers a bit from a gap in vaccination-ratio of its population, but we are closing it quite successfully these days. The gap is caused by our understanding of freedom and physical integrity of anyones body combined with a strong skepticism in parts of society on governmental interventions to personal decisions. There are currently (01/22) discussion about a compulsory vaccination, but nothing is decided yet it will probably not be in place before our conference. However to date this vaccination-gap makes our country quite sensitive to changes of the virus and its infectivity. As a consequence out of this, countermeasures were always in place and had not been interrupted like in other countries, like wearing masks, try to stay at distance in groups of peoples where the vaccination-status is unknown, and a couple of restrictions for cultural activities for non-vaccinated people. The overall target of all these measures is to keep a balance in the stressed medical system and especially the intensive-care units. As a side effect, we do now see the Omicron-wall similar like all other countries, but – again in comparision – it was delayed a bit and we managed until now to handle the load to the medical system.
However looking at it from the outside Germany and Germans are extremely careful and pessimistic. Our health-system is still very well equipped and far from collapsing. The situation is tight, and we care and do not want the situation to worsen, but there is only little risk in every-day life in Germany. We go to work usually although there is a recommendation for more home-office, most Universities and all schools are open, public-transport is almost as full as usual, the malls are open and do business at a level – they say – of 70% compared to the time prior to Covid. if you are living in the country you see the parts which are missing, but if you do not know the differences the only think obviously showing that things are different are the masks.
However there are some rules introduced by Germany which allow every group of people to have an almost normal freedom if everyone is vaccinated and by this “known to be less infectious”. This is commonly known as “2G-rules”, which refers to the German terms “geimpft” for vaccinated and “genesen” for recovered. People who can prove to fit into these categories can meet without major restrictions for any type of event, may it be cultural or professional without significant precautions. If today (January 2022) we would have to do a conference, it would probably run under the rules of 2G+, so we would check the vaccination-status of all participants. If you had your 3rd vaccination referred to as a “booster” you can immediately attend, with two vaccinations being “fully vaccinated” you would do a quick-test before the conference admission. After that, we would run the conference without thinking much about Covid 19.
Of course there is the risk around issues of quarantine returning to your home country. This is nothing I can foresee or influence. But would I feel save in inviting you at this point to Hamburg and Germany from a pure aspect and risk of infection, my clear statement in January 2022 is: If you are vaccinated or recovered, you are save and you will have a very enjoyable stay and we all together will have a very nice conference!
Links & References for Covid-19 Regulations
Due to its federal structure, some details of Covid-19 regulations vary from state to state. The differences mainly apply to the exact way of how cultural or other large events run, but also sometimes extends to rules in restaurants and size of groups which are allowed to meet without checking the vaccination-status. In Germany, Hamburg is not only a city, it is a federal independent state too. So for our conference the rules of “Hamburg” apply. For up to date information about current Covid-regulations, see the websites below, which are updated regularly:
- Regulations valid in Hamburg city and Hamburg state: https://www.hamburg.de/faq-english/
- Entry and quarantine from/to Germany: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/coronavirus/2317268
- entry from non EU states is only possible for vaccinated people, travelers from EU states have to carry proof of immunity (vaccination or recovery with 28 days to 6 months old positive PCR test-result) or a negative test-result (PCR)
- there is a travel ban for countries that are declared areas of variants of concern
- FAQs: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/en/coronavirus/infos-reisende/faq-tests-einreisende.html
- people traveling from high-risk areas have to register here: https://www.einreiseanmeldung.de/#/
- Reference-overview of high risk areas from a German-perspective: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html