German Health Minister rules out Covid lockdown for vaccinated

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has promised people who are vaccinated against or recovered from Covid that they won't see a repeat of the harsh lockdowns they experienced earlier in the pandemic.

German Health Minister rules out Covid lockdown for vaccinated
A man passes a closed bar in Berlin-Friedrichshain in May 2021. Politicians are promising that vaccinated people won't see the same severe lockdowns as before. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

“There will be no such restriction for vaccinated and recovered people,” the minister told the German Editorial Network (RND) on Thursday. “That is the legal situation today.”

His comments echo those of Chancellor Merkel, who said last week that people who get their Covid shots will continue to have their rights assured, even if the infections rate rise in autumn. 

“As long as the vaccines are working, we cannot simply say a vaccinated person is not allowed […] to exercise their rights as a citizen,” she told reporters at a press conference on August 10th, following a meeting between her and the state leaders.

However, Spahn believes that the unvaccinated could find themselves unable to visit restaurants, hotels are other services as private owners start to break away from state regulation and enforce their own entry rules. 

Unofficial ‘2G’ 

With the new ‘3G’ health pass rules coming into force, people with proof of vaccination (the ‘geimpft‘), recovery (the ‘genesen‘) or those with a negative test (the ‘getestet‘) can continue to visit the public spaces like bars and restaurants that were closed for months during Germany’s harshest lockdowns. 

The move is intended to ensure that businesses can remain even when infection rates are higher, and also act as an incentive for people to get vaccinated as opposed to facing regular tests.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new ‘3G’ Covid health pass rules

But Spahn assumes that private event organisers, hotels or restaurants will increasingly decide not to admit unvaccinated people – even if they can present a negative Covid test.

“2G [entry only for the vaccinated or recovered] will come in many areas without state intervention, and that is because organisers and restaurateurs will make use of their rights as business owners,” he told RND.

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) believes the 2G rule will be introduced in some venues without state intervention. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Reuters/Pool | Michele Tantussi

The transition to 2G has already been made by FC Cologne, who plan to bar unvaccinated people from attending Bundesliga football matches at their stadium throughout the season.

Some hotels are also looking at this model. 

Meanwhile, FC Dortmund has opted to allow just a small proportion of unvaccinated fans into their home stadium, reserving the vast majority of the 25,000 seats for vaccinated or recovered people. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

Spahn is said to be keen on the idea of introducing a state-led ‘2G’ rule if the 7-day incidence of Covid infections starts to spike in the colder months.

Until now, however, politicians have made little sign that they plan to introduce this measure formally, although Bavarian state premier Markus Söder has voiced his support for it. 

Instead, they chose to focus their discussions on the less controversial ‘3G’ rule and the scrapping of free antigen tests at the meeting between Merkel and the state premiers on August 10th. 

Member comments

  1. “Spahn assumes that private event organisers, hotels or restaurants will increasingly decide not to admit unvaccinated people” Spahn is a dumbass that doesn’t understand basics of running a business. Glad to be moving back to Denmark from October. Germany has turned into a first-class shithole during this crisis.

  2. Its not a vaccine if you can still catch the virus and spread it. Funny how most countries are all singing from the same hymn sheet and cases base on not fit for purpose pcr tests at above 28 cycles. Real vaccines stop you from getting the disease and most cover you for life.

    1. Actually, it IS a vaccine. Most people assume that a vaccine is or should be a CURE. It is not. A vaccine increases a persons immunity against an illness. NO vaccine is 100% effective. Research shows that vaccines are typically effective against whatever they were created for, i.e. polio vaccines of the past. Very effective, but not a cure. Having said that, the incidence of polio was almost completely eradicated due to vaccines… so even though it is not a cure, history shows that the vaccine was extremely helpful. So, with regard to the COVID vaccine, it is not 100% effective, but it should lower the risk of becoming seriously ill, as it has already proven. We will see how it holds up to the different variants that are emerging. I work as a vaccinated healthcare provider, and I also have family members who have become seriously ill with COVID who were not vaccinated, so I certainly see all sides.

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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.