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BUNDESLIGA

Germany’s Bundesliga allowed to start season at 20 percent fan capacity

Limited numbers of spectators can return to Germany's football stadiums when the new Bundesliga season kicks off this weekend after a six-week test phase was agreed Tuesday.

Germany's Bundesliga allowed to start season at 20 percent fan capacity
Cardboard cutouts of Mönchengladbach fans at Borussia-Park on April 29th. Fans hope it can help build a better atmosphere for ghost games played when the Bundesliga kicks off again. Photo: DPA

Germany's politicians are allowing each stadium to be at 20 percent capacity for the Bundesliga's 18 clubs, providing the seven-day rate of infection of the coronavirus is lower or equal to 35 per 100,000 inhabitants in the local region.

That means around 15,000 fans could now watch title holders Bayern Munich start the new season on Friday at home to Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena.

READ ALSO: German football fans hopes dampened as coronavirus cases rise

Fans must wear face masks and stay 1.5m apart, while alcohol is banned and away supporters are not allowed.

“Sports events thrive on fans' support and atmosphere with an audience – this applies to Bundesliga games as well as to amateur sports,” said Armin Laschet, state premier for Germany's football hotbed North-Rhine Westphalia.

There was already a test run in the first round of the German Cup last weekend.

A set number of fans were allowed into each ground with the numbers varying due to the different health authorities' regulations from region to region.

Following a two-month hiatus after the coronavirus pandemic hit Germany in March, the Bundesliga became the first of Europe's top leagues to resume in mid-May behind closed doors.

The last German league game played in front of fans was on March 8th.

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

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

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

“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.”

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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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