SHARE
COPY LINK

VACCINATION

‘Closer to normality’: German Bundestag to vote on easing Covid curbs for vaccinated people

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer have to abide by curfews and contact rules in Germany under a draft law, which is set to be voted on by the Bundestag on Thursday.

'Closer to normality': German Bundestag to vote on easing Covid curbs for vaccinated people
A man receives a vaccine at the Düsseldorf Vaccine Centre on May 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

They will also be allowed access to shops and other facilities without first providing a negative test result as is currently required of the rest of the population, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday while announcing the measures. 

They may come into force as early as this weekend if approved by the German parliament on Thursday, and the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 states, on Friday.

There must be a “good reason” for any restrictions on public life, Lambrecht said. “As soon as this reason ceases to exist…these restrictions should then no longer be in place,” she said.

Under national measures introduced in April, areas with an incidence rate of more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days must introduce overnight curfews and people may only meet with one other person from another household during the day.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new nationwide Covid-19 rules

Areas with lower incidence rates are however allowed to open shops, restaurants, cinemas and other facilities to anyone who can provide a negative test.

The new regulation will also put vaccinated people and those who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection on a par with those who can provide a negative test, Lambrecht said.

Some German states, including Berlin and Bavaria, have already announced plans to scrap the negative test requirement for vaccinated people when they go shopping or visit the hairdresser.

READ ALSO: Bavaria and Berlin ease Covid rules for vaccinated people

The Bavarian cabinet on Tuesday also signed off a plan to allow hotels, holiday homes and campsites to open in regions with low incidence rates from May 21st.

Germany has been in some form of virus shutdown since November, with numbers of new infections remaining consistently high amid an initially sluggish vaccination campaign.

But the campaign has since picked up pace, with more than a million jabs issued in one day last week, and new infection numbers have started to come down gradually.

READ ALSO: Germany breaks European record by giving a million Covid jabs in a day

‘We must not jeopardise success’

The Robert Koch Institute health agency recorded 21,953 new infections in the past 24 hours on Thursday and 250 deaths, with a national 7-day incidence rate of 129.1. The incidence has dropped considerably since the end of April.

But despite these successes, critics say it is too soon to be lifting restrictions.

Ute Teichert, the head of the Federal Association of German Public Health Officers, said it was “imperative that vaccinated people continue to be tested”.

“Without comprehensive testing, we will lose sight of the incidence of infections — especially with regard to virus variants,” she told the Funke media group on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Why are Germany’s coronavirus numbers coming down so sharply?

MP and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach said it was reasonable to lift some restrictions for vaccinated people, but restaurants, bars and other facilities should not be reopened just for them.

“We must not make the mistake of jeopardising the successes achieved by the national ’emergency brake’,” he warned, referring to the national restrictive measures introduced in April.

Member comments

  1. As a 31 year old expat with only around 5 close friends here I find it infuriating that now we, the young people are the ones that will be paying the price now in the end and possibly missing out on all the summer fun. As I understood it, the lockdowns were to ensure the protection of risk groups in the first place. Now that they are almost all vaccinated, why do the rest have to still stay at home looking at our few lucky friends who’s brothers wife is pregnant or something get to live a full life. If they’re gonna lift restrictions, they better have a plan how to make young people’s lives liveable somehow for the time being since it doesn’t look like we’ll be fully vaccinated before September or so.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

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. 

SHOW COMMENTS