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Berlin court allows anti-coronavirus measures demo to go ahead

The Berlin administrative court has overturned the ban placed on the demonstration against coronavirus regulations planned for this weekend.

Berlin court allows anti-coronavirus measures demo to go ahead
20,000 people attended the protest against coronavirus measures on August 1st. Photo: DPA

Berlin city authorities earlier decided not to allow the Saturday demo to go ahead, fearing that the estimated 22,000 protesters would not stay the recommended 1.5 metres apart or comply with regulations on face masks.

READ ALSO: Berlin bans weekend demos against coronavirus measures

A court spokesman said that the protest will now be allowed to go ahead on Saturday, albeit under strict conditions.

Organisers were required to adjust the location of the main stage to ensure enough space for demonstrators. Regular loudspeaker announcements and stewards would also have to be used to enforce social distancing. 

A minimum distance of 300 meters between video walls was also required, yet without an obligation to wear a mask.

Since the controversial ban was announced earlier this week, thousands of new requests for new rallies had been submitted to authorities – these too were banned, however, on the grounds that they are intended as Ersatzdemonstrationen (replacement demonstrations).

The organisers, known as the “Querdenken 711” (Lateral Thinkers 711), also quickly appealed the decision, dubbing it as a violation of their freedom of assembly. 

The hashtag #SturmaufBerlin (Storm on Berlin) was trending on Twitter on Thursday, with many opponents of the ban encouraging protesters to mobilise by travelling to the capital, and some even calling for violence. 

State officials had originally justified the ban by arguing that demonstrators were likely to violate coronavirus rules, as they did at a previous demonstration earlier this month.

On August 1st, 20,000 protesters descended upon the capital to call for an end to coronavirus restrictions, with many deliberately ignoring social distancing regulations and refusing to wear face masks.  

The demonstration was eventually broken up by Berlin police after several warnings were issued. 

The decision to overturn the ban is not yet legally binding. It remains to be seen whether the city-state of Berlin or the organisers of the demonstration will now appeal the verdict.

Shortly before the announcement, Berlin Chief of Police Barbara Slowika confirmed that they would appeal to the Higher Administrative Court in the instance of a legal defeat. 

Berlin has seen 11,010 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and 226 deaths as a result of the virus, according to local health authorities.

READ ALSO: Berlin protest against coronavirus measures draws 20,000

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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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