Berlin makes Covid tests mandatory for all workers with customer contact

Berlin makes Covid tests mandatory for all workers with customer contact
A woman takes a self-test in Berlin. Photodpa-Zentralbild | Britta Pedersen
The city of Berlin has introduced a new rule which makes twice weekly testing for a coronavirus infection mandatory for anyone who has contact with customers as part of their work.

As of Wednesday, people in Berlin employed in delivery services, supermarkets, and a variety of other sectors where there is physical contact with customers will need to take at least two rapid antigen test a week, and keep the results for a further four weeks.

Paragraph 6a of the capital city’s new Infection Protection Measures Ordinance, which was agreed upon by the Senate last Tuesday, sets out mandatory testing for everyone who has direct contact with customers or guests.

For those directly employed by a company, the employer is obliged to organise the testing for its employees.

Self-employed people who have direct contact with customers are also required to test themselves at least once a week for an infection with the Sars-Cov-2 virus.

The self-employed need to organize their own tests. But they can make use of the city’s free test centres.

On Saturday, Berlin’s city government agreed to tighten some restrictions while also offering the possibility for the retail sector to reopen dependant on a testing regime.

When the rules take effect on Wednesday, everyone will need to wear an FFP2 mask when entering a supermarket or any other shop.

At the same time, shopping malls are being asked to organize test centres that would allow customers to take an antigen test. Having a test that is less than 24 hours old will allow people to enter shops.

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Berlin’s Senate has foreseen the fact that there might initially be shortages in supplies. The law states that the rules “shall only apply if sufficient tests are available and it is reasonable for them to be procured”.

Mayor Michael Müller announced last week that he would not send the capital back into a hard lockdown despite the city having a 7-day incidence above the level where the so-called emergency brake should be applied.

SEE ALSO: Berlin refuses to go back into hard shutdown despite high infection rate

“I believe that it is not a viable path to now turn back everything that we have fought for in terms of opportunities and freedoms in recent days and weeks,” Müller said on Thursday.

The Social Democrat mayor said that he wanted to tackle a third wave of the virus through increased testing.

But his anti-shutdown stance has put him on a collision course with the federal government after all 16 federal states agreed to “consequently” apply the emergency brake if the state’s 7-day incidence exceeds 100 on three consecutive days at last Monday’s lockdown summit.

The emergency brake clause specifies that states return to the strict restrictions of February when the retail sector was completely closed and contacts were restricted to one person outside one’s own household.

Angela Merkel called on Sunday for the federal states to “take action”.

“We have to take the appropriate measures very seriously. Some states are doing it, others are not yet doing it,” she said.

The Chancellor warned that, if states don’t act, she would consider whether to take action “in the near future” at the federal level that would force them to go back into lockdowns.

READ MORE: Merkel urges German states to stick to agreed shutdown rules


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