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PROTEST

Germany bars coronavirus protest outside Reichstag

Militant opponents of Germany's measures to halt the spread of coronavirus will be barred from marching outside parliament Wednesday over fears of violence, the interior ministry said.

Germany bars coronavirus protest outside Reichstag

MPs are to pass new restrictions to keep the pandemic in check. The ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it had rejected 12 applications to hold protests against the measures outside the historic Reichstag building in central Berlin.

Several hundred angry demonstrators had already tried in late August to storm the building during a rally against coronavirus rules, in a protest Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned as “shameful”.

The ministry said the ban applied both to the Bundestag lower house at the Reichstag and the Bundesrat upper house a short distance away.

It said a rally would only be allowed on the site “if there is no fear of hindrance of the activity” of MPs or their staff “or access to the building”.

“These conditions have not been met,” the ministry said.

It said it had been informed by security services that protesters intended to block access to the Reichstag and Bundesrat buildings based on social media posts ahead of the planned demonstrations.

The Bundestag police force warned MPs in a letter obtained by German media that “demonstrators from politically radical and even violent groups” were expected to take part in Wednesday's protests with “attacks” possible.

Earlier this month, more than 20,000 people joined a violent demonstration in the eastern city of Leipzig against curbs to control coronavirus infection.

READ ALSO: German ministers condemn violence at Leipzig anti-mask protest

Most participants refused a police order to disperse after ignoring requests to wear face coverings and keep a safe distance between participants.

Demonstrators attacked police and reporters, leading to 31 arrests. Political officials said that neo-Nazi supporters and politically extreme conspiracy theorists had helped incite the riots.

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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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