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HEALTH

German Bundesliga issues guidelines for fans’ return to stadiums

The return of supporters to German stadiums next season took a step closer on Wednesday as the 36 clubs in the Bundesliga's top two tiers received guidelines on how to keep spectators safe from infection amid the coronavirus pandemic.

German Bundesliga issues guidelines for fans' return to stadiums
When will real fans return to stadiums in Germany? AFP

The Bundesliga season finished at the end of June with the last nine round of matches played behind closed doors.

However, with clubs having lost millions in match day revenue, the German Football league (DFL) has provided help in how to create a safe environment in grounds.

READ ALSO: All eyes on Germany as Bundesliga football returns

“The guideline serves as an orientation for the basic structure” of hygiene concepts and “contains numerous aspects to be considered,” the DFL said in a statement.

Each club would need their concept approved by the local health authority.

The DFL's guide has already been submitted to the German government's Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) for evaluation.

As the league points out, the BMG says high standards of protection to prevent infection is a basic requirement before fans can return.

Germany has had around 200,000 coronavirus cases, the majority which have recovered, and recorded 9,071 deaths due to the virus.

Top clubs like champions Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig are reportedly already working on hygiene concepts which could see a number of fans return.

Dortmund have tested a system to measure body temperatures of supporters.

“I am hopeful that at least a small proportion of fans will be admitted again from September,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said at the end of June.

Union Berlin are looking into playing home games in front of a full house when the 2020/21 campaign starts in Germany on September 18th.

Union want club employees tested and for all 22,000 ticket holders for each home game to produce a negative test for COVID-19 within 24 hours of kick-off.

However, Union's plans have already been criticised and a leading virologist dubbed it “irresponsible”.

“Until we have a vaccine, there won't be a full stadium,” Ulf Dittmer, director of virology at the University Hospital in Essen told newspaper WAZ.

Dittmer worries despite a negative test, someone could still be “infectious one day later in the stadium” and spread the virus on packed terraces.

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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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