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FOOTBALL

German football fans hopes dampened as coronavirus cases rise

Bundesliga clubs had their hopes dampened on Monday of a partial return of football fans in stadiums when the new league season kicks off in Germany on September 18th.

German football fans hopes dampened as coronavirus cases rise
An empty football stadium in Stuttgart on Monday. Photo: DPA

Last week, the 36 clubs in Germany's top two tiers agreed to a four-point proposal by the German Football League (DFL) which could see fans return to stadiums despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs agreed to sell personalised tickets to track spectators, no away fans for the rest of 2020, no alcohol allowed until October and fans seated only, with terraces to remain empty.

The plans, however, must first be approved by the German government.

READ ALSO: Bundesliga: How Germany plans for football fans to return to the stadium in September

Politician Dilek Kalayci, chairman of the conference of Germany's health ministers which met Monday, poured cold water on the league's hopes.

“We do not intend to pass a resolution on the DFL's hygiene concept,” Kalayci told newspaper Berliner Morgenpost before the conference.

“Professional football is not at the top of the health ministers' priority list.”

Germany's top flight clubs lose several million euros in lost match revenue for every home game played behind closed doors.

However, the number of the coronavirus are rising slightly in Germany with 436 new cases in the last 24 hours and a total of around 9,000 deaths.

In total, Germany had had a total of 217,322 coronavirus case, and 197,218 reported recoveries, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

The final nine rounds of league matches last season were all played behind closed doors.

A football match in Mönchengladbach, North Rhine-Westphalia on June 16th with the sign “Football without fans is nothing!” Photo: DPA

Frizt Keller, the president of the German FA, has raised the idea of mass testing of spectators next season, but Kalayci torpedoed the idea.

“The idea that, among other things, all fans in stadiums could be tested is viewed critically by the majority of ministers,” Kalayci added.

“Especially because before and after the game, no one can exclude and control large crowds of people and alcohol consumption.

“We currently need the testing capacity in many other areas – for example, schools, daycare centres, nursing homes, hospitals and people returning from travel.”

READ ALSO: 'Don't show up at the stadium': German fans warned ahead of Bundesliga restart

Meanwhile, the Marburger Bund, the association and trade union for doctors in Germany, also warned against a return of fans to the stadiums.

“The danger of a mass infection would be real,” chairperson Susanne Johna told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.

“If we are unlucky, a 'superspreader' would sit among the fans and the virus will spread like wildfire.

“Someone may not have any symptoms at all yet, but still his throat is already full of the virus.

“And with the shouting and cheering (at a game), it (further infections) can happen in a flash.”

READ ALSO: 'Target clusters and superspreaders': Here's how Germany could prevent a second coronavirus wave

Johna says she has sympathy for the league's attempts to bring spectators back, “but the fact that their concept would prevent infections is unrealistic, in my opinion”.

She doubts fans can be expected to keep their distance during matches, because when a goal is scored, “you hug each other and don't think of corona”.

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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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