Courses and Conferences

EMBL Courses and Conferences are a major European platform for sharing and expanding research, knowledge and contacts through face-to-face and virtual interaction

COVID-19 safety policy for on-site events at EMBL Heidelberg


As EMBL welcomes the scientific community back to our sites in 2022 with a long-awaited return to in-person events, we continue to prioritise the safety of our participants and staff. Both EMBL and our community of participants need to take new precautions when planning how we come together again in person for learning and scientific exchange.

EMBL continuously monitors local and international guidelines and regulations relating to  COVID-19. The changeable nature of the pandemic means that  regular updates to this policy are necessary. We will inform participants about any substantial changes to this document that come after they register.

COVID-19 vaccination / recovered status as a condition of attendance

EMBL requires that all participants in its on-site conferences and courses – including standard participants, speakers, exhibitors, EMBL staff and contractors are vaccinated or recovered. Only fully vaccinated / recovered persons will be able to participate in an on-site event or course.

Please note that only Proof of Vaccination / Recovery as defined by the German Federal Ministry of Health will be accepted. For more information, please see the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut website. (Agency of the German Federal Ministry of Health).

Compulsory COVID-19 testing as an extra layer of safety 

EMBL’s testing requirements for access to events change with the pandemic situation and may go further than local and national COVID-19 regulations.  EMBL will contact registrants directly with the requirements for their particular course or conference and advise on local testing options.

Current requirement as at 7 April  2022

DAY 1 – Upon arrival for their first day of attendance, all participants and speakers / trainers must show proof of a current negative result from a supervised / certified test centre 

Professional testing stations are readily accessible at many convenient locations throughout Heidelberg. They offer rapid lateral flow antigen tests, free of charge and on a ‘walk-up’ basis for all, including visitors. The test must have been taken no more than 24 hours before you enter the event (48 hours for PCR tests). You will easily spot testing tents and cabins in the city centre and beyond, and can find a selection of the locations on the Heidelberg city website. If travelling internationally testing before leaving for Germany is advised to avoid disruption to your trip after arriving. 

DAY 2 and onwards – COURSES – EMBO Practical Courses and EMBL Courses 

For all of our training courses participants and trainers are expected to test daily by:  accessing EMBL’s COVID-19 screening programme (see below), self testing at home / in hotel ( kits provided) or using the free testing stations. Testing every day is considered necessary for the training courses because of the prolonged contact in smaller groups. 

DAY  2 and onwards – CONFERENCES – EMBO |  EMBL Symposia and EMBO Workshops

For all of our conferences participants and speakers are strongly encouraged to continue testing throughout their stay and in particular to make use of EMBL’s screening programme (see below).

Access to EMBL’s COVID-19 screening programme for participants

EMBL has a twice weekly self-testing scheme in place which participants are encouraged to access for free while attending our 2022 courses and conferences. The sensitive nucleic acid based SARS-CoV-2 screening is based on a gargle sample with same day analysis by our professional medical partner, the Heidelberg University Hospital. . 

How it works:

  • A test kit with instructions will be provided on arrival at reception for your course or conference. 
  • Access and follow the full instructions online (using the code provided on the paper slip in the kit)  to collect a gargle sample in your hotel room before breakfast the next morning. Keep your access code slip somewhere safe, or take a photo of it!
  • Return the sample to the ATC reception by the deadline you have been given (usually 9:15am any Monday or Thursday morning, but varying to fit some events). Log back in with the code after 4:00pm the same day for the result. 
  • The result is anonymous and visible only to you via your access code – no personal data is involved. EMBL receives only an anonymous report showing the number of positive and negative results from the batch of tests from the course or conference that day.

If you test positive for COVID-19 please act responsibly and withdraw immediately from the course and conference. If you contact the EMBL Course and Conference team, we will be pleased to provide up-to-date information, advice and help. Once you have tested positive and withdrawn, you can only join the course or conference again if you test negative by PCR.

Safe conduct at the event

By attending, you agree to abide by applicable German regulations and EMBL’s health & safety rules, and to conduct yourself in accordance with all provided instructions. This will include, but is not limited to:

  • refraining from coming to the event, or leaving promptly if you test positive for, or develop symptoms associated with COVID-19, or if you are required to be in self-isolation or quarantine by COVID-19 regulations in Germany or at the location you are travelling from;
  • complying with the prevailing mask-wearing policy communicated at the event;
  • following instructions on physical distancing and crowd circulation at the event;
  • observing good hand-washing and hygiene etiquette;

EMBL’s commitment to COVID-19 safety at our courses and conferences 

EMBL has a comprehensive on-site COVID-19 safety plan that consists of a range of precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Underpinned by the limitation of access to immunised i.e. vaccinated or recovered persons, the plan is adapted over time and, if necessary, on an event by event basis, to ensure that it remains proportionate to the trajectory of the pandemic and to the latest developments. 

  • A COVID-19 testing regime may be in place as an additional requirement and free access to EMBL’s COVID-19 screening programme is provided wherever possible.
  • A mask wearing policy, which will, as a minimum, comply with German local and national regulations at the time of the event will be communicated and enforced for both staff and participants. Participants must bring their own supply of FFP2 masks; 
  • Air handling at the Advanced Training Centre venue is fully fresh-air supplied, with no recirculation and is regularly tested; 
  • Additional manual ventilation will be deployed in some rooms; 
  • Capacities have been reduced to limit crowding and circulation routes / distancing guidelines will be in place;
  • Additional cleaning and disinfection protocols are in place as a standard and hand sanitising stations are provided in abundance throughout the building

A non-immunised person (neither vaccinated against nor recovered from COVID-19 and who will not be immunised at the time of the event) may only register for virtual participation – now available for almost all conferences.

Participants accept that they may be asked to leave the event should they fail to meet the obligations contained herein.

In addition to the above information, you can find the most frequently asked questions on our Corona and COVID-19 FAQs.