Bavaria orders compulsory FFP2 masks on public transport and in shops

The southern state is tightening mask restrictions over fears of Covid-19 variants spreading.

Bavaria orders compulsory FFP2 masks on public transport and in shops
A pharmacy employee shows an FFP2 mask. Photo: DPA

From next Monday, people in Bavaria will have to wear FFP2 mouth and nose coverings while travelling on public transport and when in shops.

State premier Markus Söder, of Angela Merkel's CDU sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), announced the changes after a cabinet meeting in Munich on Tuesday.

Söder said that the “normal community masks” were for the protection of others during the pandemic. FFP2 masks, which are available in pharmacies, also protect the wearer.

The aim, he said, was to improve safety in public transport and in the retail trade.

“The availability (of the masks) in trade is sufficiently guaranteed, so there is no shortage of FFP2,” the state premier stressed. The masks are “clearly in abundance, in part anyway”, he added.

Overall, Söder said there was a “cautiously positive trend” in view of declining virus numbers in Bavaria. “A large part of the measures are beginning to have an effect,” he said.

READ ALSO: Merkel says Germany could need tough lockdown measures 'for 8 to 10 more weeks'

Bavarian premier Markus Söder. Photo: DPA

Within 24 hours, there were 1,740 new infections in Bavaria reported on Tuesday – almost 500 fewer than a week ago.

With a seven-day incidence of 158.8 (average number of Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents in seven days), Bavaria is in seventh place among the 16 states nationwide.

Throughout Germany there were a total of 12,802 positive cases over the previous 24 hours with an additional 891 deaths.

This is not the full picture, though as it's still unclear what effect socialising and travel over the Christmas holidays will have.

Authorities say we'll see more of the consequences of this towards the end of the week.

Söder stressed that consistency and patience was still needed in the fight against the virus in Germany.

The CSU leader warned against an increased spread of coronavirus variants, such as that which originated in the UK.

He compared the measures against the mutations to “a race against time”. “The mutations are causing us concern,” he said.

In this context, Söder repeated his proposal calling for Germany to debate making the vaccine compulsory for a limited time for staff in old people's and nursing homes.

The Covid-19 vaccine is not compulsory in Germany.

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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.