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MEMBERSHIP EXCLUSIVES

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2020

From the last instalment of the Kinderbonus to train travel discounts and the clocks going back, here's what's changing this October in Germany.

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2020
A cuckoo clock in the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

Reunification Day on October 3rd

Germany will celebrate Reunification or Unity Day on Saturday, October 3rd, marking 30 years since east and west came together.

This is a public holiday in Germany so the majority of shops will be closed (like what usually happens on Sundays). However, in many parts of the country, shops will be open this Sunday, October 4th instead.

Note that a holiday isn't transferred to a weekday because it falls on a Saturday.  Unfortunately, Germany doesn't do that with holidays that fall on weekend days, unlike some other countries.

READ ALSO: What and when are Germany's 2020 public holidays?

Families to get second instalment of the Kinderbonus

In September, an initial payment of €200 per child was paid out to families across Germany. Now the last payment of €100 will be paid out in October. 

Families with smaller and medium-sized incomes are to benefit from the payment. Importantly, the bonus is not offset against other family or social benefits. The exact date of payment depends on the final digit of the child benefit number.

The government estimates that the Kinderbonus initiative will cost about €4.3 billion in total. The aim is to boost spending in Germany as the economy has taken a major hit in the pandemic. Families were particularly affected due to having to look after and home-school children.

READ ALSO: Germany's Kinderbonus payout begins today: What you need to know

Clocks go back (but you get extra sleep!)

Well, it's that time of year again. During the night from Saturday October 24th to Sunday October 25th, clocks in Germany will be set to winter time. At 3am the clock will go back one hour, back to Central European Time (CET).

The good news is that we all get an extra hour of sleep. But it will get darker earlier in the evening.

READ ALSO: More Germans 'suffer health problems after clock changes'

Blanket worldwide travel warning ends – but restrictions remain

Germany is getting rid of its blanket worldwide travel warning from October 1st, but don't get too excited.

The classification of a country as a coronavirus risk area (which includes most regions in the world right now including the US and India) will automatically result in a travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office from October onwards. This is provided for in the new regulations for travel warnings and advice. That means:

  • For countries designated as risk areas, the travel warning for unnecessary tourist travel will continue to apply in principle
  • For countries not designated as risk areas, it is not advisable to carry out unnecessary tourist travel if entry restrictions to Germany apply to these countries or these countries have adopted entry restrictions from Germany. The overall situation in the respective country (e.g. equipment of the health system, previous handling of sources of infection) is also taken into account

Digital registration for risk arrivals

For people entering Germany from risk areas, there will also be a compulsory digital registration system in place from October 15th.

People who enter their details on the portal will receive a confirmation which they will be asked to show at a check point – for example at the airport by police.

The data will also be sent to the relevant health authority. Those who do not comply with their obligation to register risk being fined. Exceptions will continue to be made for commuters and other travellers in so-called local border traffic.

Times up on some coronavirus test centres

Coronavirus test centres on the Autobahn network and at railway stations are set to close by October 1st. At airports they are to remain in place.

READ ALSO: Explained – How Germany plans to step up measures to control coronavirus spread

New quarantine rules

New quarantine measures will apply to people arriving from risk areas from this month.

Affected travellers returning to Germany from a risk area will be ordered to go into a 14-day quarantine period. This can be ended with a negative coronavirus test. However, that can only be carried out after the fifth day of returning to Germany at the earliest.

Germany's 16 states are responsible for implementing and enforcing the rules. There may be slight differences in state procedures due to the federal system.

This system could be in force already in some areas. Other states are looking to implement the system by October 15th, while others will aim for November.

READ ALSO: 'I was scared to get fined': What it's like to be tested and quarantine after arriving in Germany

Photo: DPA

Train travel discount

In October, the Bahncard 25 for second class travel will cost just €24.90 during the month instead of €54.60. It is then valid for one year. The card gives travellers a 25 percent discount off the normal fare. 

Deutsche Bahn has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. Passenger numbers slumped by up to 90 percent at the peak of the pandemic in April. As connections were maintained, empty trains often ran through the country.

Passenger numbers are now slowly recovering. However, they are still far from the normal level. Therefore, the Bahn is trying to counter the corona-related decline in passenger numbers with new special offers like this one.

READ ALSO: How the coronavirus pandemic is changing train travel in Germany

Bonus for dental patients

Anyone covered by public health insurance companies in Germany who goes to the dentist for a check-up at least once a year can get a 'bonus booklet'.

This bonus pays off even more from October 1st: for five years of regular visits without interruption, insurance firms will pay 70 instead of 60 percent in subsidies for dental work such as crowns, implants or bridges. For 10 years it will rise to 75 instead of 65 percent. Those who have not gone for regular check-ups will receive a 60 percent subsidy.

In future, it will also be possible to receive the highest subsidy of 75 percent in exceptional cases, even if there is a gap in the bonus booklet – but in return, there will have to be a conclusive explanation as to why it was not possible to have a check-up in one year.

READ ALSO: German healthcare – everything you need to know

Meanwhile, the fixed subsidy for dental fixtures will increase by 10 percent. Until now, the subsidy paid for by health insurance organisations has been 50 percent of the total price. But from October 2020, the fixed subsidy will be increased to 60 percent – this is based on the extent of the care, but at least on the statutory standard care.

Wage boost for workers

Those who work in waste management, including winter road clearance and street cleaning, will receive a little more money from October 1st: the minimum wage will rise from €10 to €10.25 per hour and then further to €10.45 in 2021.

Train travel has changed during the pandemic. Photo: DPA

Improvement in home nursing

There are to be improvements to home care for patients in Germany. From October 1st a new form prescribing home care will have a separate field for specifying the “type of wound” so that nurses can better understand the patients they're treating. 

The new form also contains fields for differentiating between acute and chronic wound care. This is aimed at improving the care of patients with chronic and difficult-to-heal wounds.

Better care for patients

Specialised intensive care for people should be improved, according to new legislation.

In future, only specially qualified doctors will be able to order out-of-hospital intensive care.

It means care at home will continue to be possible – but under strict quality standards. Outpatient nursing services are obliged to cooperate with specialists. The quality of care is to be checked by medical services on behalf of the health insurance organisations.

Changes to the Telemedia Act

This law means that providers of audiovisual media services and video sharing platforms on which programmes are uploaded by users or user-generated videos are offered, must regulate the handling of user complaints. In particular, they must develop procedures to investigate and take action when there are reports of illegal content.

Service providers will have to ensure that the commercial processing of user data collected or otherwise obtained for the protection of minors is prohibited.

Changes to the law are to enter into force this October.

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

From the €9 ticket and fuel tax cut, to travel chaos, tax deadlines and digital steps forward, here's what's changing in Germany this August.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

€9 ticket and fuel tax cut runs out

Germany’s €9 monthly public transport ticket offer continues until the end of August so people will be able to buy and use it for the month before it it’s gone when September starts (sadly).

The fuel tax cut is also in force until the end of August. For petrol, the government-subsidised “tank rebate” is about 30 cents per litre, for diesel about 14 cents per litre. The reduction is limited until August 31st.

No plans have been announced yet to extend these measures. 

Travel chaos continues in Europe

The summer months have been chaotic for travellers, and we have seen examples of airports congested throughout Europe. This will continue during August, as airlines have cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule. 

In Germany, around 6,000 flights operated by Lufthansa alone have been scrapped from the summer schedule.

More strikes?

German airline giant Lufthansa ground staff staged a one-day strike on Wednesday July 27th. Negotiations between Verdi union and Lufthansa will happen on August 3rd and 4th.

It may be that more strikes are announced if an agreement on pay for the 20,000 ground staff isn’t reached. Keep an eye on The Local’s homepage. 

READ ALSO: Flights disrupted across Germany as Lufthansa strike begins

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd.

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

August regional holiday

There is only one official holiday in Germany in August – Assumption Day – or Mariä Himmelfahrt – on August 15th. It is a regional holiday for the states of Bavaria and Saarland.

It falls on a Monday, so don’t forget to prepare yourself for it, as most shops and supermarkets will be closed on the holiday and Sunday as well (as they always are in Germany).

Tax deadline

Those who have their tax return for 2020 prepared by a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association still have until August 31st to hand it in.

The deadline was extended again in May to relieve tax advisors who have extra work in their plate with auditing Covid financial assistance during the pandemic period.

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany have longer for their tax returns this year

More transparency in employment contracts

Whether it’s the scope of work, length of probationary period, possible overtime or notice period, employment contracts issued from August 1st onwards must clearly state in writing the working conditions for new jobs.

It must also be documented what wages will be paid, how they will be made up, what further training has been promised, what the shift system and rest breaks will be like, and what applies to the remuneration of overtime, allowances and bonuses.

Information on contracting parties, remuneration and working hours must be provided in writing to new employees no later than the start of employment – all other supporting documents can be given within seven calendar days.

More assistance for students

From August 1st, there will be more BAföG financial assistance for students. The maximum support rate for students will be raised from €861 to €934 per month. The tax-free amount on the parents’ income, which is the basis for calculating the education grant, will also go up. This also increases the group of those eligible for support.

The previous tax-free allowance of €8,200 for the assets of trainees will also be increased – to €15,000 for people up to the age of 29, and to €45,000 from the age of 30. Furthermore, the age limit for BAföG funding will be extended from 30 to 45.

READ ALSO: German students to get higher grants from winter 2022

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle.

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Minimum wage goes up

For stonemasons and people in the stone-sculpting trade, new industry minimum wages will apply from August 1st 2022; instead of €12.85 per hour, employees will get 50 cents more, raising it to €13.35. Independently of this, there is also the German statutory minimum wage, which will increase to €12 in October.

Digital step for founding companies

From August 1st, anyone who wants to establish a GmbH (a company with limited liability) or KG (limited partnership) can do so without having to attend the notarial certification in person – they can also do it via online video communication.

This is regulated by the Act on the Implementation of the Digitalisation Directive (DiRUG). “The parties involved are identified by means of an electronically transmitted photograph in conjunction with an electronic proof of identity, e.g. the German identity card with eID function,” explains the Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Pupils return to the classroom – or go on holiday

Schools in several states will return after the summer break in August. But the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are the last to go off on their school holidays – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

Cheaper medicines in the pharmacy

Patients who are prescribed biopharmaceuticals (or biologics) by their doctor, which are often used for Crohn’s disease, arthritis or cancer, can be given cheaper medicines of the same type at the pharmacy from August 16th. This is regulated by the “Law for More Safety in the Supply of Medicines”.

The biosimilars, i.e. similar biological medicines, are to come into circulation more quickly, and drug costs are to be reduced. The law is intended to relieve the burden on health insurance companies. The imitation products are produced and tested by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under strict criteria as soon as the patent for a drug expires, and are considered to be just as effective as the respective original.

General measles vaccination mandate in care facilities applies

Since March 2020, measles vaccinations have been compulsory in communal facilities such as Kindergartens, asylum seekers’ and refugees’ accommodation and in medical facilities – for caregivers and other employees in the facilities.

Those who already worked in one of the above-mentioned facilities before March 2020 were granted a transitional period until July 31st 2022 to present proof of vaccination.

People who do not comply with the vaccination obligation will be banned from care or work from August 1st, and could also face fines of up to €2,500 if they flout the rules. People who cannot get the vaccination for medical reasons and those born before 1971 are exempt from the measles jab mandate.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

Titanium dioxide banned in food

Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent in wall paints, varnishes, cosmetics and medicines. But foodstuffs such as chewing gum, sweets, baked goods, soups and salad dressings also often rely on it, especially in the USA. It’s found on the packaging as the additive E171.

As of August, however, titanium dioxide can no longer be used in food production in Europe. The European Commission imposed the ban because it could not be ruled out that the chemical substances could alter “genetic cell material” and that the food additive could therefore no longer be considered safe. In France, titanium dioxide hasn’t been used in food since 2020.

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