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Germany’s Bundesliga: ‘All clubs’ preparing to host fans for new season

All 36 clubs in Germany's top two football leagues are preparing plans to welcome back small number of home fans when the new 2020/21 Bundesliga season starts on September 18, the league's chief revealed Thursday.

Germany's Bundesliga: 'All clubs' preparing to host fans for new season
Cardboard cutouts of fans in a stadium in Mönchengladbach, North Rhine-Westphalia on June 27th. Photo: DPA

“All the clubs have prepared documents and are in talks with the (health) authorities,” said Christian Seifert, chief executive of the German Football League (DFL) after a virtual meeting of the clubs.

However, the return of fans to watch live football relies on the rate of infection of the coronavirus staying low and due to the uncertainty, Seifert anticipates “a demanding and difficult season”.

READ ALSO: All eyes on Germany as Bundesliga football returns

Earlier this week, Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig paved the way after being given permission by their local health authority to host 8,500 home fans.

That means 20 percent of their stadium's capacity can watch live their first home game of the new Bundesliga season on September 20th against Mainz, but only home fans are allowed.

Now Leipzig's German league rivals, including holders Bayern Munich who kick-off the new season at home to Schalke on September 18th, are following suit by holding similar discussions with the respective authorities in their area.

However, it is proving controversial in Germany.

In mid-August, senior politicians refused to back the proposed hygiene measures by the German Football League to allow fans back into stadiums.

“That would be the wrong signal,” said Germany's health minister Jens Spahn at the time.

That meant each club having to approach their respective health authority, responsible for the measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19, in order to get permission.

The return of fans is the subject of fierce debate in Germany, where numbers of new infections are slowly rising.

“The questions as to whether supporters in Bundesliga stadiums sends the wrong signs are absolutely justified,” admitted Seifert.

READ ALSO: Germany's Bundesliga issues guidelines for fans' return to stadiums

However, he offered a counter-argument that it could be a “sign that thousands of people want to, and can adhere to, rules of conduct” by following hygiene measures.

There are already fears that some clubs could be barred from hosting home supporters, potentially putting them at a disadvantage.”It makes a difference whether a club has 10,000 or 15,000 spectators in the stadium and other clubs have 500. Then there is no longer a level playing field,” warned Wolfsburg's managing director Jörg Schmadtke.

The German Football Association (DFB) has already sanctioned the return of a limited number of fans for the first round of German Cup matches from September 11th-14th, providing each host clubs' local health authority gives the go-ahead.

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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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