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Multi-stage set of measures at PTB to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2

PTB is restricting its operations site by site. All measures will remain in effect for the time being until 18 April 2020.

Press Release

The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is sparing no effort in protecting its staff members from infection at work and curbing the spread of the coronavirus to the greatest extent possible. It is imperative that the exponential growth in the number of confirmed cases be interrupted; this will allow our healthcare system to provide the best possible medical treatment for all emergency cases on a long-term basis. At the same time, PTB must (and intends to) continue its fundamental research and service tasks as well as possible given the current constraints. All major state institutions – government agencies, trade, industry, education and research – are currently trying to pull off this balancing act. Only in this way can both society and the economy be “kept on life support” in the medium to long term. PTB has therefore imposed a multi-stage set of measures; its crisis management team will decide on an ongoing basis which of these stages is to be implemented and when. During the coronavirus crisis, this set of measures includes three operational statuses beyond the normal operational status: “flexible operational status” (represented by yellow in the traffic lights), “restricted operational status” (orange) and “emergency operational status” (red). Currently, PTB’s Braunschweig site has been placed in the “flexible operational status” while the “restricted operational status” has been imposed at the Berlin site; both measures will remain in effect for the time being until 18 April 2020.

In just the past few weeks, PTB has already implemented numerous measures to fight the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2); for example, nearly all events planned for the near future have been cancelled, as have official trips – including those between PTB’s sites. All staff members working on site at PTB Braunschweig and PTB Berlin must follow strict hygiene and conduct regulations. Lastly, most PTB staff members are now working from home. This has allowed (and will allow) tasks to be completed that are essential for research and service. It will not be possible to prevent delays in these areas, since many research and service tasks can only be completed on site in the laboratory. Nevertheless, PTB is making every effort to ensure that all essential measurement tasks continue to be performed – in other words, to ensure that the clocks keep ticking instead of just killing time.


Dr. Joachim Ullrich, the President of PTB, has emphasized that, “As a society and as a government agency, we stand before a great challenge. To meet this challenge, we have approved a set of measures that will enable us to keep tabs on the wellbeing of each staff member and on the functioning of the overall system.” Dr. Tobias Schäffter, the head of PTB’s Berlin institute, adds that, “We would like to extend our firm thanks to all our staff members for their great dedication to keeping things running at the highest level possible, both on site and by working from home.”

Each of the measures for crisis situations has now been specified in detail and made progressively stricter to minimize the risk of contagion as much as possible. Here, each change from one operating status to the next (from “yellow” to “orange” to “red”) involves a drastic reduction in the number of staff members working on site. In normal operating status, around 1500 staff members work on site at PTB Braunschweig; currently, for the “flexible operating status”, between 500 and 600 members are working there, while for the “restricted operational status” and the “emergency operating status”, this number will decrease to around 200 and 40, respectively.

Each of the three operating statuses is described below and involves numerous individual measures and regulations that have been made known to all staff members and are being adhered to with a great sense of responsibility.

  • The “flexible operating status” at PTB is designed to maintain service and research operations at PTB as well as possible in states of emergency (natural disasters, pandemics, etc.). Depending on the nature and extent of the given emergency/epidemic, the flexible operational status may take different forms.
  • The “restricted operational status” at PTB is designed to maintain restricted service and research operations at PTB in states of emergency (natural disasters, pandemics, etc.). This means that it will only be possible to perform many tasks that are part of normal operations to a limited extent, while it will not be possible to perform some tasks at all. The “restricted operational status” may take different forms depending on whether it is implemented in Berlin or Lower Saxony, in accordance with the regulations in each of these two German Federal States. .
  • The “emergency operational status” at PTB is designed to ensure on-site security and firefighting services when operations on the grounds of PTB have been shut down in states of emergency (natural disasters, pandemics, etc.). The emergency operational status is also designed to minimize or eliminate damage to equipment, buildings and natural surroundings as a result of the state of emergency or of the shutting down of services.



Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
Corona crisis management team
Phone: (0531) 592 3005
E-mail: Opens window for sending emailcorona-krisenstab(at)ptb.de

PTB crisis management team:

  • Presidential Board
  • Head of Administration
  • Head of Personnel
  • Head of Cross-Sectional Services
  • Head of the Berlin Institute
  • Head of the Press and Information Office
  • President’s Representative for Occupational Safety
  • Chair of the Staff Council

PTB sites:

  • Braunschweig: Bundesallee 100
  • Berlin-Charlottenburg: Abbestraße 2-12
  • Berlin-Adlershof: Magnusstraße 9