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MUSIC

German court declares techno to be music

Fans never doubted it, but now a top German court has confirmed it: techno is music and clubs should benefit from the same reduced sales tax rate as concert halls.

German court declares techno to be music
People at an outdoor party in Berlin's Hasenheide park in July, in place of closed clubs. Photo: DPA

Germany's federal fiscal court BFH agreed with plaintiffs, including Berlin's legendary Berghain club, that they should not have to pay the standard 19 percent VAT on ticket sales when concert venues enjoy a lower rate of seven percent.

In a ruling on October 29th, the court found that “the average visitor” at a techno or house club was there primarily for the music and the DJs, making club nights “similar to concerts”, regardless of whether there were singers or musicians playing instruments.

READ ALSO: 'We've never had such a big threat': German clubs fear for their future

The DJs do more than just play tracks, “they perform their own new pieces of music using instruments in the broader sense, to create new sound sequences that have their own character,” the judges said.

The decision is a rare piece of good news for German nightclubs, which have been forced to keep their doors closed for more than six months now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Party hotspot Berlin, home to iconic clubs like KitKat, Sage and Tresor that usually draw thousands of revellers, has been especially hard hit by the shutdowns.

Fears are growing that despite government aid, short-time work schemes and crowdfunding efforts, not all venues will survive the crisis.

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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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