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AID

Germany plans €17 billion aid to companies and freelancers for extended shutdown

The German government plans to set aside a massive aid package for firms and self-employed people this December.

Germany plans €17 billion aid to companies and freelancers for extended shutdown
A woman walking past a restaurant in Hanover on Monday. Photo: DPA

It came as negotiations continued ahead of crunch talks between the government and the states.

Under the state premiers' proposals, the partial lockdown across Germany will be extended until December 20th.

A final decision is expected to be taken during the consultations with Chancellor Angela Merkel and the states on Wednesday.

If the partial lockdown is extended, restaurants, bars and cafes as well as leisure and cultural facilities – which have been closed since November 2nd – will remain shut.

READ ALSO: Groups of 10 and no fireworks ban – German states propose Christmas and New Year rules

Will there be financial support?

The government has promised support to companies affected by the closures.

So far authorities have earmarked around €14 to €15 billion to compensate for lost turnover in November.

The support is for affected businesses, such as bars and restaurants or self-employed artists.

Companies with up to 50 employees and self-employed people are to be compensated for 75 percent of the loss of turnover, based on their November 2019 takings. For larger companies, the percentages are determined in accordance with European guidelines on state aid law.

The application process for claimants is expected to begin over the course of this week, and the funds are to be allocated to those affected by the end of the month.

The money is to come from a pot set aside for ongoing 'bridging aid' during the pandemic.

The Pino restaurant in Frankfurt has turned to showcasing pandas instead of customers as part of their 'Pandamie' bears protest on the shutdown. Photo: DPA

It is not yet clear what the new aid for December will look like. According to reports, the December financial aid would be based on the model of the November package, and worth around €17 billion.

However, it's unclear whether a 75 percent loss of turnover will be granted again.

'Reserves have been used up'

The federal government has already taken on huge debts to protect companies and jobs during the coronavirus crisis.

Business representatives say the support is badly needed to keep the economy ticking over. They are also worried about the November aid reaching people.

“Extending the November aid is important in order to give businesses a chance of survival. The reserves have been used up,” said Ingrid Hartges, the chief executive of the hotel and catering industry association Dehoga, on Tuesday.

“We need concrete information, including details of the November aid, when the money will be paid out, because not a cent has been paid out yet. The fact that the closures will now continue until December 20th naturally exacerbates the situation”.

The Federal Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (Bundesverband mittelständische Wirtschaft) called for improvements to the support process.

This mainly concerns companies that are indirectly affected by closures, for example in the catering industry. Federal Managing Director Markus Jerger said that the federal and state governments must finally make a binding declaration on how the aid for ailing companies should be paid out in November and continued in December without red tape.

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HEALTH

When, where and how can I get the flu shot in Germany?

Seasonal flu vaccines, Covid boosters, and the monkeypox vaccine are recommended for risk groups in Germany as it gets colder. Here’s what you need to know.

When, where and how can I get the flu shot in Germany?

Flu cases are way up in Germany this year – back to over 22,000 nationwide so far, and those are just the laboratory-confirmed ones. With many Covid-19 restrictions also having slowed the spread of flu in 2020 and 2021, German doctors are particularly encouraging at-risk groups to get this year’s flu vaccine.

Who?

In principle, anyone in Germany can speak to their doctor and get the flu vaccine. However, it is recommended particularly for certain at-risk groups.

According to the German Robert Kock Institute (RKI), which advises the government on viruses, these groups include:

  • anyone over the age of 60
  • pregnant women from their second trimester
  • people with chronic underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, or various heart conditions
  • People who live or work in care homes
  • Medical personnel
  • People who work in areas with particularly high amounts of traffic. These could include schools or Kitas, for example
  • People who live with or care for someone from one of these groups

When?

Flu season’s peak is normally expected in January. That’s why doctors advise you to have your protection in place before then. So the best time to get vaccinated for the flu is between October and December.

With the vaccine taking about 10-14 days to kick in, doctors advise making sure you have the shot by mid-December, so that when the season peaks in January, your body is prepared to fight off the virus if you come in contact with it.

Where?

The easiest place to get a flu vaccine is at your doctor’s office. However, some health authorities run public vaccination campaigns, depending on your federal state. Some workplaces may also administer flu shots on site once a year.

For the first time this season though, pharmacies in Germany will be able to administer a flu shot to any adult with statutory health insurance. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they do it.

Can I get the flu shot at the same time as my Covid-19 booster shot?

In most cases, there are no restrictions on getting the flu shot and a Covid booster at the same time. Most flu vaccines given in Germany are inactivated viruses, which can be administered simultaneously with a flu shot. You don’t have to wait between getting one shot and getting the other.

If giving it you at the same time, your doctor will likely use both arms – one for each vaccine.

READ ALSO: What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

What about Monkeypox?

Germany has now seen its total number of reported monkeypox cases hit 3,656—with around half of all cases being reported in Berlin. With more and more people getting vaccinated though, the seven-day average of new infections has slowed from a peak of 71 per day in mid-July to less than one a day in October.

That’s far less than the US rate of 105 a day or even Spain at just over four a day.

The vast majority of cases worldwide and in Germany have been detected in gay and bisexual men, whom German health authorities are still advising to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

Other risk groups include people who work in certain laboratories where they might become exposed, and people who have already potentially been exposed.

Someone who suspects they’ve been in contact with a confirmed case of monkeypox is advised to get a vaccine shot within four days.

READ ALSO: Who can get the monkeypox vaccine in Germany – and how?

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