Pandemic will end in Germany by spring 2022, says Health Minister

Health Minister Jens Spahn says he believes the Covid pandemic will come to an end in Germany by spring next year.

Pandemic will end in Germany by spring 2022, says Health Minister
A restaurant in Erfurt allowing access only to vaccinated and recovered people. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Martin Schutt

“If no new virus variant emerges that vaccination does not protect against, which is very unlikely, then we will have overcome the pandemic in the spring and can return to normality,” the CDU politician told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

Spahn said that herd immunity “is always achieved” in the long run. However, the question is whether it happens through vaccination or the spread of the virus.

“Vaccination is definitely the safer way to get there,” Spahn said.

The Health Minister urged people eligible for vaccination to go and get their jabs. 

“Anyone who does not get vaccinated is very likely to fall ill,” the minister said, warning against underestimating the risks of infection in light of the current drop in infection figures.

On Wednesday 10.454 Covid infections were logged within 24 hours, and 71 deaths. The 7-day incidence dropped to 65 cases per 100,000 people. A week ago, the 7-day incidence stood at 77.9.

But experts have been warning that there was also a lull at this time last year before the autumn/winter surge hit. 


“We also had a ‘breather’ at this time of year last year,” said Spahn. “So we’re not through yet. In the autumn and winter, when we’re all indoors a lot more again and the immune system is less strong, the risk of getting infected also goes up.”

Spahn attributed the current decline in infection numbers primarily to the end of the vacation season and stricter testing rules.

The Health Minister also defended plans to end financial compensation for unvaccinated people who have to miss work if ordered into a quarantine. 

READ ALSO: What employees in Germany should know about quarantine compensation

He said this was “not about pressure, but about fairness towards the vaccinated”.

“Why should others pay for the fact that someone decides for himself not to be vaccinated?” the CDU politician said on broadcaster ZDF’s Morgenmagazin on Wednesday.

The health ministers of the federal and state governments plan to discuss a unified approach on Wednesday.

They will talk about an end to compensation for lost earnings due to an ordered quarantine for the unvaccinated from October 11th at the latest. In some states, unvaccinated people are already no longer entitled to compensation for lost earnings. 

Spahn also spoke out in favour of a nationwide regulation for the so-called 2G option – i.e. the possibility of businesses only allowing vaccinated and recovered people to attend events or dine indoors in Germany. He said he would campaign for this in the consultations with the state health ministers.

Currently Germany has a 3G approach where people who’ve been vaccinated (geimpft), recovered (genesen) or tested (getestet) can enter indoor public spaces. Some states – such as Berlin, Hamburg and Hesse, have moved to allowing businesses to choose the 2G model. 

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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.