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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Germans to be fined up to €500 for breaking social distancing rules

Germans risk being fined up to €500 for standing too close to each other from Friday as officials crack down on people flouting rules brought in to control coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Germans to be fined up to €500 for breaking social distancing rules
More supermarkets, stores and weekly markets, such as this one in Munich, are putting down tape to enforce social distancing guidelines. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has ordered people not leave their homes unless they have an exceptional reason such as grocery shopping, exercise or medical appointments.

Gatherings of more than two people are banned and a distance of at least 1.5 metres must be kept from others at all times.

Local governments have the power to set fines for transgressors, with city officials in Berlin saying their fines would be as high as 500.

READ ALSO: 'Rest breaks are allowed': What you need to know about Berlin's new coronavirus rules and fines

Similar announcements have come from across Germany's 16 states.

Customers at a weekly market in Hamburg try to stand 1.5 metres apart. Photo: DPA

Hesse, home to finance hub Frankfurt, and North Rhine-Westphalia both promised penalties of up to 200 for people who gather in groups of more than two.

Bavaria, Germany's largest state, has been the worst affected by the coronavirus so far, with more than 20,000 cases.

There, people who stand less than 1.5 metres apart risk being fined 150.

READ ALSO: Why has Bavaria been hit so hard in the coronavirus pandemic?

 

Queues of people standing far apart have become a common sight outside German supermarkets and pharmacies, with many sticking down tape to mark where people should stand on the pavement. Security guards often stand near by to tell customers when they need to allow more space.

However, German police have also reported numerous violations of the rules.

As of Friday morning, Germany had more confirmed coronavirus cases than China, or 84,794, making it the fifth most affected country in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

There have also been more than 1,100 deaths.

Member comments

  1. One thing I’ve not been totally clear about; If you are a couple – say, Husband & Wife – are they going to enforce the 1,5 meter rule on you walking together as well?

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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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