Tourists told to leave northern German state ahead of shutdown

Tourists have been told to pack their bags and leave Schleswig-Holstein by Monday November 2nd as Germany is set to go into a partial lockdown.

Tourists told to leave northern German state ahead of shutdown
Westerland, a seaside resort located on the German North Sea island of Sylt. Photo: DPA

For holidaymakers on the North Sea islands and the Halligen, there is an extended deadline – non-residents have to leave by November 5th so the capacity of ferry traffic is not overloaded, the state government announced in Kiel on Friday.

The government made the statement following decisions taken by the federal and state governments for a partial lockdown, which will start on Monday, November 2nd and will last four weeks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state leaders decided that “overnight accommodation in Germany will only be made available for “necessary and explicitly non-tourist purposes” during the partial lockdown.

In Schleswig-Holstein, with a few exceptions, stays in hotels, guesthouses and holiday homes will no longer be offered for the next four weeks.

But accommodation for professional (eg business trips) or social-ethical reasons (eg burial or terminal care) as well as for medical purposes such as accompanying children during a hospital stay will continue to be permitted, a government spokesperson explained.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus shutdown – can I travel within Germany in November?

Tourist favourite – but with strict rules

The northernmost state of Germany is known for the beauty of its coastline and islands such as Sylt, which attracted people from all over the country and beyond.

But it has been in the spotlight in recent weeks due to having some of the strictest rules in Germany when it comes to controlling coronavirus. 

The state banned people from certain 'hotspot' districts in Berlin instead of viewing the capital as one area. But these rules were overturned after an outcry.

It highlighted the issue of states having different internal travel restrictions, causing confusion for people in Germany.

As The Local has been reporting, states around Germany are currently meeting to enforce the measures agreed by Merkel and the state leaders.

Although states are following the regulations, there may be slight differences. For example, Bavaria is opting for tighter rules on private gatherings.

The shutdown will take place from November 2nd until November 30th.


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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.