Coronavirus: Germany condemns anti-French aggression along border

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Saturday condemned aggression towards French people travelling into border areas, which has flared amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus: Germany condemns anti-French aggression along border

“Coronavirus knows nothing of nationality. It's the same for human dignity. It hurts to see how some of our French friends have been insulted and attacked because of COVID-19,” Mass posted on Twitter.

“Such behaviour is completely unacceptable. And besides: we are in the same boat,” he added.


Maas' tweet came in response to a similarly apologetic post from Anke Rehlinger, economy minister in Saarland state which borders France's Grand Est region.

“Our heart bleeds for the closed borders to France and Luxembourg,” Rehlinger said on April 8.

“We have heard that French people have been insulted and had eggs thrown at them. People doing such things are sinning against the friendship between our nations,” she added.

“I apologise to our French friends for these isolated incidents.” Some days before, the mayor of a small town on the border complained of “a certain hostility to our French friends” in his district.

“Some have been insulted or stopped on the street” while others “no longer dare come here,” Gersheim mayor Michael Clivot told news site t-online.

The situation in Gersheim became so bad that Clivot posted a video directly addressing the townspeople on Facebook.

Some French people had reported being spat on while out walking or queueing at the supermarket, he said. One had been told to “go back to your corona-ridden country,” Clivot added. 

'Joint action needed'

The French consul in Saarland, Catherine Robinet, confirmed that 'isolated' incidents targeting French nationals had taken place in the region.

But Robinet urged against “generalising” the anti-French sentiment, adding that she had also received numerous messages of support.

Some people in France also have reacted poorly to Germans in the country, she added.

For the Gersheim mayor Clivot, the incidents showed that a decision by Berlin to close the frontier in mid-March in a bid to slow the pandemic's spread had been mistaken.

“What we needed (at the time) was joint action with France,” he said.

On March 16, Germany introduced tough border controls with neighbouring nations including France.

Since then, only goods deliveries and cross-border commuters have been waved through by police, while officers have turned back other travellers.

Grand Est on the German border has suffered France's most deadly COVID-19 outbreak with more than 2,000 confirmed deaths.

Across the border in Saarland, only 41 fatal cases have been registered by the Robert Koch Institute, responsible for disease control.

Germany's nationwide death rate from the disease is also well below that in France, with 2,544 of 118,000 infected people succumbing while in France over 13,800 have died out of some 125,000 cases.

Member comments

  1. Ah, so this fantasy that the EU would make everyone EUROPEAN has been shattered! Too bad, for, in the end, the EU cared little about the cultural differences between member states. Germans will always be Germand and feel superior to all, while the French, try as they might, will always play second fiddle. Interesting to see the EU members acting like greedy jackals during this pandemic.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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.