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HEALTH

Germany to order all arriving travellers to self-quarantine

Germany will put all arriving travellers in quarantine for 14 days, the interior ministry said Monday, as the government ramps up entry curbs to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany to order all arriving travellers to self-quarantine
Police guard the border of Germany and the Czech Republic in Bärenstein, Saxony on Wednesday, April 1st. Photo: DPA

The measure, which will come into force on April 10th, is expected to affect mostly German or EU nationals and residents, as the European Union has already banned all arrivals from outside the bloc.

It applies for all modes of transport, whether plane, boat, car or train.

Workers in the health sector living outside Germany in border regions will be exempted from the restriction, which will also not apply for business travellers or technicians entering for a short period of time.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had decided on the toughened rule during a cabinet meeting focus on the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Since March 16th, temporary border controls have been carried out on the borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark.

READ ALSO: Germany imposes border controls with five countries due to coronavirus pandemic

In border regions where there are no controls, Germany's federal police use the existing search and control instruments. This means that people entering from these areas can also be sent to quarantine or deported back if they are approached by the police within a 30-kilometre radius of the border.

During the same meeting, which is ongoing, ministers agreed that 100 percent of loans made by banks to small- and medium-sized firms will be guaranteed by the state.

The federal government will stand fully behind 500,000 of lending to companies with up to 50 employees and 800,000 for larger ones, upping its guarantee level from a previous 80 percent for large firms or 90 percent for smaller ones.

 

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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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