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Court overturns order to shut Berlin bars and restaurants from 11pm

A Berlin court on Friday suspended an order for bars and restaurants to close from 11 pm to 6 am, finding that "it was not apparent" such a measure could help fight coronavirus.

Court overturns order to shut Berlin bars and restaurants from 11pm
People walk past a closed bar in Berlin-Friedrichshain on Wednesday evening. Photo: DPA

Ruling on a case brought by 11 restaurant owners, the administrative court noted that new infections in Germany currently stem from private gatherings of family and friends, at community facilities, meat-processing plants, religious gatherings or in connection with travel.

Closing food and drink establishments was therefore a “disproportionate encroachment on the freedom” of the industry, the court ruled.

City authorities had ordered the sector to close early from last weekend, as infection numbers surge in the German capital.

Under rules agreed by premiers of Germany's 16 states and Chancellor Angela Merkel, the measure is to kick in once new infection numbers climb above the threshold of 35 per 100,000 people in seven days.

More drastic restrictions are imposed when the daily caseload climbs to 50 per 100,000 people.

All districts in Berlin have exceeded this number, with Berlin-Neukölln currently counting the highest number of infections within Germany.

READ ALSO: Maps and graphs: These are Germany's coronavirus hotspots

At Merkel's latest talks with the state premiers on Wednesday, a slew of other curbs were agreed for so-called corona hotspots, including caps on the number of people gathering indoors and a ban on late-night alcohol sales.

But the new round of restrictions that come as Germany's daily infection numbers soar past 7,000 — a new record for the country since the pandemic — has been met with greater resistance.

Elsewhere in the country, several courts in different states have overturned bans on hotel or holiday home stays for domestic travellers from corona risk zones.

READ ALSO: 'Corona chaos' emerges as Germans baffled by conflicting virus rules

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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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