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COVID-19

EXPLAINED: These are the German states with curfew restrictions

As new nationwide restrictions come into force, some areas of Germany have opted for stricter curfews in a a bid to bring coronavirus numbers down.

EXPLAINED: These are the German states with curfew restrictions
Tables shut off at a restaurant in Dresden, Saxony. Photo: DPA

Just days before Christmas, Germany is bringing in tougher lockdown measures, including the closure of shops, schools and a ban on alcohol.

Some states are going further by ordering people to stay at home at certain times of the day or night.

According to the government and states' strategy, when an area clocks up more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents in seven days, exit restrictions should be put in place.

Here are areas currently affected.

READ ALSO: Germany sees record death toll on first day of new lockdown measures

Bavaria

Bavaria is under a stricter lockdown than most of the country. That's because the southern region, with a population of more than 13 million, is struggling to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases.

Throughout the day, people are only allowed to leave their homes for good reasons. These include, for example: to go to work or to the doctor's, exercise, shopping and meetings with one other household (which are still permitted – but there can only be a maximum of five people in total).

In addition, there is a night-time curfew between 9pm and 5am. Being in public spaces is then only permitted for very few valid reasons.

According to the Bavarian cabinet, these include emergencies or medical treatments that cannot be postponed, going to work, exercising custody and access rights, caring for people in need of support, accompanying people who are ill or dying, or walking the dog. A violation of the nationwide curfew is punishable with a minimum fine of €500.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) the state logged 27,542 cases in the last seven days. There have been an average of 209.8 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. To compare, the seven day incidence rate for the whole of Germany is 179.8. A total of 5,163 people have died in Bavaria since the start of the pandemic.

Saxony

Saxony is currently Germany's worst-affected state. A strict lockdown has been in effect in the eastern state, which has around four million people, since Monday.

Residents there can only leave their homes for valid reasons such as for work, shopping, visiting the doctor or outdoor exercise within a 15-kilometre radius. 

In some particularly badly affected districts (districts or cities with an incidence value of 200 on five consecutive days), an extended night-time curfew is also in force. It means people can't leave their homes between 10pm and 6am, unless its for essential reasons such as work or to care for someone.

According to the RKI, the state logged 16,576 cases within the last seven days. There have been an average of 407.1 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. A total of 1,855 people have died in Saxony since the start of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany's tougher Christmas lockdown rules are the right move – but should they have come sooner?

The map below by DPA shows the districts with the highest number of cases per 100,000 people within seven days.

Hesse

In the central state of Hesse, night-time curfew restrictions have been in force between 9pm and 5am since Friday in districts or cities with an incidence of more than 200 for three days in a row. Leaving your own home during this time is only permitted for valid reasons, such as for work or to care for someone.

The state is home to around 6.2 million people.

According to the RKI, the state registered 11,420 Covid-19 cases in the last seven days. There have been an average of 181.6 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. A total of 1,906 people have died in Hesse since the start of the pandemic.

Baden-Württemberg

In Baden-Württemberg, curfew restrictions have been in effect since Saturday between 8pm and 5am. Residents can only leave their home during this time now for valid reasons, such as work or to care for someone.

The southern state is home to around 11 million people.

According to the RKI, the state logged 21,278 cases in the last seven days. There have been an average of 191.7 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. A total of 3,628 people have died in Baden-Württemberg since the start of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 in Germany worse than ever 'due to carelessness', says public health boss

Berlin

In Berlin, from Wednesday December 16th people can only leave their home for important reasons. for example, to go shopping, to do sports or to work. “All Berliners are also urgently advised to avoid travel,” says the Senate.

Berlin is home to around 3.6 million people.

According to the RKI, the city state logged 6,663 coronavirus cases in the last seven days. There have been an average of 181.6 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. A total of 899 people have died in Berlin since the start of the pandemic.

Brandenburg

In Brandenburg, which has around 2.5 million residents, people should only leave their homes for essential reasons such as work, shopping, doctors and and for sports alone, in pairs or with members of their own household.

A strict curfew applies from 10pm until 5am. During this time people must stay at home unless it's essential to leave.

According to the RKI, the state logged 3,723 coronavirus cases in the last seven days. There have been an average of 147.6 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. A total of 540 people have died in Brandenburg since the start of the pandemic.

Thuringia

In Thuringia, which has around 2.1 million people, leaving your home or accommodation between 10pm and 5am without an important reason is not allowed as of Wednesday December 16th.

According to the RKI, the state logged 3,723 cases in the last seven days. There have been an average of 254.9 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents in a week. A total of 563 people have died in Thuringia since the start of the pandemic.
 

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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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