This is how Germany’s coronavirus rules vary across states

Germany is set to enter a stricter shutdown, with most states beginning to enforce the new rules on Monday. We break them down - and how they vary state by state.

This is how Germany's coronavirus rules vary across states
A sign in Hanau appeals to passersby to 'stop corona'. Photo: DPA

In order to stem high coronavirus infection figures, Germany's 16 state premiers, together with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), decided to tighten and extend Germany's shutdown until the end of January.

Here's an overview the new measures, and how individual states are implementing them differently (or not at all). 

READ ALSO: These are Germany's new tighter lockdown rules

New restrictions starting date

The new regulations apply in Hamburg from Friday January 8th, and in Berlin, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia from Sunday January 10th.

In Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein, they are set to come into force on Monday January 11th.

Contact restrictions

One person is allowed to meet with another household. Children are also usually not considered an exception, as they were under Germany's latest extended shutdown, in place since December 16th.

However, the states of Saxony, Bremen and Baden-Württemberg have decided to exempt themselves from the rule, allowing up to two households of five people not including children up to the age of 14 to meet. Infants are also exempt from the rule in Bavaria.

Children of single parents in Berlin, and children who are being looked after due to school closures in North Rhine-Westphalia, are also exempt from the rule. Small children under three years old are also exempt from the rule in Bavaria.

READ ALSO: Schools, contact rules and travel: What you need to know about Berlin's new Covid-19 restrictions

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg both want to allow two families to come together to look after children. Schleswig-Holstein is also making an exception for the care of children and relatives in need of care. 

Lower Saxony also decided to deviate from the rule, saying it does not apply to children with disabilities and children of separated parents.

Schools and Kitas

Schools and daycare centre (Kitas) will in general stay closed. However, parents will be allowed paid leave for childcare during the shutdown. Emergency care and distance learning for school children will also be available.

READ ALSO: How parents in Germany can take paid time off to care for their children during lockdown

In Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, however, schools are to remain open, but grades 1 through 6 are not required to attend classes. Hamburg students who are not able to learn at home – for example because their parents are working outside of the home and unable to supervise them – may also continue to attend school. 

Baden-Württemberg plans to reopen elementary schools and daycare centew starting January  18th, as well as allow in-person classes for graduating years.

In Berlin, face-to-face and alternating classes (ie. part of the student body is there one day and the other on the next) will start on Monday.

Bremen is suspending its compulsory school requirement and letting parents decide for themselves whether to send their children to school. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Kitas and schools are to remain open through the 6th grade, unless parents can care for their children at home. Graduating classes are to be allowed to return to school starting Monday.

Hotspot rule

In districts with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a week, people are not allowed to travel more than 15 kilometre from their place of residence without a valid reason, for example a doctor’s appointment or travelling to work.

However Baden-Württemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia are not planning to follow the rule.

In Thuringia and Lower Saxony, local authorities are still debating whether they will enforce the rule or not.

If you live within a hotspot and want to see how far you're able to travel (and if the rule applies to your particular area) the following interactive calculator has been set up. 

READ ALSO: Germany to restrict movement for residents in Covid-19 hotspots


Member comments

  1. The Local? Sort your platform out! You are happy to take my money but you do not facilitate the option of me staying logged in. Every time I log in, I click on ‘stay logged in’ and it never works. Maybe put some of our money towards upgrading your system…instead of lining the pockets of your reporters who do not respond to valid comments/feedback and seem to have a very one-sided view on situations taking place in Germany. FYI? Not every expat, residing in Germany, lives in Berlin!

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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.