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UPDATE: Berlin cancels large cultural events over coronavirus fears

Large cultural events in Berlin's theatres, operas and concert houses will be cancelled from Wednesday to prevent coronavirus contagion, authorities in the German capital said.

UPDATE: Berlin cancels large cultural events over coronavirus fears
Cars drive past Berlin's Staatsoper on Unter den Linden. Photo: DPA

The measure will remain in place until April 19th, and will also affect concerts at the renowned Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin's pointman on culture, Klaus Lederer, said Tuesday, adding that it was “regrettable but one must assume the responsibility”.

The measures apply for all events of more than 500 people, the capital announced on Wednesday.

Berlin's famous Berghain nightclub also announced on Wednesday that it was shutting its doors until April 20th

Organisers of smaller shows in locations holding up to 500 people will have to decide individually if their events will go ahead, in accordance with guidance given by the federal disease control centre Robert Koch Institute.

Health Minister Jens Spahn had recommended that events with more than 1,000 people should be scrapped until further notice, after coronavirus cases in Germany soared past 1,100 this week.

As of Wednesday morning, there have been a total of 58 coronavirus cases confirmed in Berlin, and growing fears after it was reported that one person spread the virus to 16 others at a nightclub in the capital's Tiergarten neighbourhood.

Several Bundesliga games will be played without spectators, while other huge fairs including Berlin's ITB travel show and the Hannover Messe technology event have been scrapped.

On Wednesday it was also announced that the Bundesliga match between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich on Saturday will be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus scare.

“The match will be played without spectators,” the city deputy health chief Dilek Kalayci told Spreeradio station despite Union Berlin's statement Tuesday saying the match would be open to an expected 22,000 fans.

Also behind closed doors this weekend are matches at Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04, Fortuna Düsseldorf v Paderborn, Augsbourg v VfL Wolfsburg and Cologne v Mainz 05.

Germany's biggest cluster of infected patients are in the country's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, where 323 cases have been reported in the district of Heinsberg alone.

Two people have also died of the virus in the state.

READ ALSO: Germany urges events with more than 1,000 to be cancelled over coronavirus

 

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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