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VACCINATION

Bavaria and Berlin ease Covid rules for vaccinated people

A handful of German states have announced they are lifting some Covid restrictions for fully vaccinated people - ahead of the federal government's schedule.

Bavaria and Berlin ease Covid rules for vaccinated people
A sign to a coronavirus vaccination centre in Nuremberg. Photo: DPA

Bavaria will no longer require people who have received both Covid jabs to get rapid Antigen tests before activities like going to the hairdresser, state premier Markus Söder said on Tuesday.

“Those who have received two injections (of the vaccine) will no longer have to present tests as of tomorrow (Wednesday),” Söder said.

Currently people have to present a negative rapid Covid test in order to get a haircut or visit a non-essential shop.

According to the Bavarian state chancellery, fully vaccinated people will be “put on an equal footing with people who have tested negative”.

However, privileges, such as access to currently closed facilities like swimming pools and restaurants, are not provided for in Bavaria.

It came after the government held a summit on vaccination rights. Health Minister Jens Spahn said the government would present proposals to be passed by the Bundestag and Bundesrat by the end of May.

READ ALSO: When will people with Covid immunity get more freedoms in Germany

Söder said Bavaria also planned to lift the priority order for vaccines in May, allowing all adults to apply to get a jab – also ahead of the government’s schedule which is aiming for June.

Up to April 26th, Bavaria had inoculated 6.9 of its population – or 910,900 people.

‘Giant step forward’

Berlin is also getting rid of the obligation to test for vaccinated people and those who have recovered from the disease, it emerged on Tuesday.

“We have clearly defined the group of people who are exempt from compulsory testing,” said health senator Dilek Kalyci.

Those who have recovered from Covid must be able to show a positive PCR test certificate. For them, the regulation applies for six months from the 28th day after the test result. After that, they have to show they’ve had at least one vaccine dose of in order not to have to show a negative Covid test.

READ ALSO:

Meanwhile, people in Berlin with Covid immunity also no longer have to go into quarantine if they come into contact with a Covid-infected person. From now on they only have to self-isolate if they show symptoms after contact.

Hospital staff are exempt from the relaxation of the quarantine regulation.

“We are taking a giant step forward here,” said health senator Kalayci.

Berlin had fully vaccinated about 8.8 percent of its population – or 323,672 up until April 26th.

Other federal states – such as Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Hesse – are also introducing similar rules on vaccination rights. It is likely others will follow so keep an eye out on local rules.

IN NUMBERS: Is Germany ramping up the Covid-19 vaccine rollout?

Up to April 26th about 23.9 percent of the total German population had received at least one vaccine dose. About 7.3 percent or 6 million have been fully inoculated.

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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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