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Germany’s top court bans coronavirus ‘protest camp’

Germany’s constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) on Sunday evening confirmed a ban on event dubbed as a coronavirus protest camp by organisers.

Germany's top court bans coronavirus 'protest camp'
Protesters at Saturday's demo in Berlin. Photo: DPA

The two-week vigil to protest against Germany’s coronavirus measures was slated to be held from August 30th to September 17th on Straße des 17. Juni.

Initially the local administrative court allowed it to take place. 

The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) Berlin-Brandenburg, however, overruled the decision, stating that such a gathering would pose a threat to public safety, according to Spiegel Online.

Event participants would not be able to comply with social distancing measures, which require 1.5 metre distance between people.

The applicant, who organised one of Berlin’s anti-coronavirus demonstrations on Saturday, did not show a sufficient hygiene concept, ruled the constitutional court, nor how it could be carried out over 14 days.

Ongoing debate over anti-corona protests

At the weekend, Berlin police called off a protest against coronavirus restrictions, saying protesters had not worn masks, as required by a court. 

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Police in Berlin halt anti-coronavirus protest

The local government had initially banned the event, but this sparked outrage from organisers and their supporters who flooded social media with angry messages vowing to protest anyway, with some even calling for violence.

Then the eve of the demo, Berlin's administrative court sided with the demonstrators, saying there was no indication that organisers would “deliberately ignore” social distancing rules and endanger public health.

At the start of August, a similar “anti-corona” march in Berlin took place with 20,000 protesters, a mixture of the hard left and right, anti-vaccination campaigners, conspiracy theorists and self-described “free thinkers”.
   
Police broke up the protest early after participants repeatedly flouted Covid-19 safety regulations.
 
While Germany has fared better than most European countries in its fight to stem the spread of the coronavirus, it has recently seen an uptick in cases at a daily rate higher than that experienced since April.
 
This had led a sharpening of countrywide regulations, including a €50 fine for not wearing a mask on public transport and in shops, among other rules.
 
 
Vocabulary

prohibit/ban – untersagen 

Threat to public safety – (die) Gefährdung der öffentlichen Sicherheit

Comply with something – (etwas) einhalten 

The applicant – (der) Antragsteller

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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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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