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Authorities reveal what could happen after Germany’s coronavirus lockdown as Merkel’s second test returns negative

Authorities have revealed what the next phase could be after Germany comes out of lockdown. It came as Chancellor Angela Merkel's second coronavirus test came back negative.

Authorities reveal what could happen after Germany's coronavirus lockdown as Merkel's second test returns negative
Merkel speaking about new restrictions on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

Young people who are not part of 'at risk' groups could be allowed outside again first after Germany eases its contact restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus, according to Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun.

Currently, no-one knows exactly how long the so-called contact restrictions, which have seen non-essential shops shut and gatherings of more than two people banned, will continue.

The new measures began on Monday March 23rd and are in place initially for two weeks, but are likely to be extended.

Experts hope the restrictions will help to “flatten the curve” or slow down the pandemic by reducing the number of COVID-19 infections at one time, and therefore reducing the burden on the health system.

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On Wednesday Braun gave a glimpse of what the first step towards easing the restrictions in Germany might look like.

Among other questions on the student app Jodel, Braun was asked how things would continue after the coronavirus situation in Germany eases.

“Young people who do not belong to the risk groups would be allowed to go out on the streets again,” he said in a video.

At the same time, however, authorities would have to “consistently test, find out who is infected and trace their contacts”, Braun said. Comparable measures are currently in place in Vietnam and Singapore, where the spread of the virus has been well contained.

Merkel test negative

Meanwhile, the second coronavirus test carried out on Merkel has come back negative, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Merkel has been in self-isolation since Sunday after she had been vaccinated by a doctor who was shortly afterwards diagnosed with COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Bundestag approves historic aid package as coronavirus cases in Germany rise

Her first test at the beginning of the week was also negative.

However, she will continue to work from home and self-isolate until at least the beginning of next week.

“The chancellor continues to work from home quarantine and will be tested again early next week,” a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Merkel goes into quarantine after meeting doctor with coronavirus

It came as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health said it was not yet able to tell whether the measures taken in Germany had been effective against the spread of coronavirus.

As of Wednesday morning there were more than 34,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, with more than 160 deaths.

Shops increase hygiene and safety

The Rossmann drugstore chain is increasing its precautionary and hygiene measures in its stores throughout Germany in order to limit the risk of coronavirus infections. 

Checkouts are to be equipped with Plexiglass protection against possible droplet infections and separate “distance controllers”.

The photo terminals will be temporarily closed, with the service continuing online.

Toilets will no longer be available to customers, the same applies to changing tables and coffee machines.

“For hygienic reasons, all testers will be removed from the sales rooms”, the company from added. “Likewise, all tester stations for electric toothbrushes and shavers/hair clippers will be closed.”

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?


 

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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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