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WORKING IN GERMANY

Germany could ‘end quarantine pay for people without booster jabs’

The German government is reportedly mulling over plans to scrap quarantine pay for people who haven't received their full course of Covid jabs or whose last jab was more than three months ago.

Woman in Covid self-isolation
A woman sits in bed during self-isolation. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

According to reports in the German media, certain groups of vaccinated people could soon lose their wages if they have to go into quarantine after having contact with an infected person. 

The potential shift in rules was laid out by parliamentary lawyers in a brief obtained by German daily Bild.

“The absence of the Covid-19 booster vaccination would lead to the exclusion of the claim for compensation,” the brief allegedly states.

Though nothing concrete is in the pipeline yet, the change would primarily affect people who had received their Covid jabs in or before October last year but haven’t yet received a booster jab. 

According to Bild, it would also affect people who weren’t fully vaccinated yet, such as people who have only had one jab. 

This would be justified by the fact that the need to quarantine could have been avoided by a “publicly recommended” third vaccination, the lawyers write. 

Currently, only unvaccinated workers in quarantine cases face the prospect of lost wages if they have to quarantine due to a suspected Covid infection. This is one of the ways in which the government had hoped to encourage people to get vaccinated against Covid. 

READ ALSO: Germany ends quarantine pay for the unvaccinated

Quarantine exemptions 

To avoid massive staff shortages during the Omicron wave, federal and state leaders have recently agreed on a set of changes to Germany’s quarantine rules.

Under the new laws, people who’ve had a booster shot and people who had their second jab less than three months ago are exempt from having to quarantine after contacted with an infected person.

However, everyone with a confirmed Covid infection has to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. This group would still receive sick pay if they have to self-isolate. 

If the proposals laid out in the brief are taken up by the government, they would mean that anyone who isn’t exempt from quarantine faces a loss of wages for up to ten days.

This is the amount of time people with a suspected Covid infection must generally quarantine, though this can be shortened to seven days with a negative test. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Germany’s new rules and exceptions for Covid quarantine

Opposition politicians said that the plans to change the rules could only be justified if people were able to get a rapid appointment for a booster.

CDU MEP Dennis Radtke, who specialises in workers’ issues, told Bild: “If you want to do something like this, you have to make sure that everyone can get a quick booster shot. It can’t be the case that workers end up paying for the bad Covid management of the federal government.”

Others, meanwhile, appealed to workers to get their full course of vaccinations. 

“In order not to place unnecessary burdens on society, employees should strive for the highest possible level of his or her own protection,” CDU/CSU parliamentary secretary Thorsten Frei told Bild. “Those who expressly forego this protection should also be prepared to bear the consequences.”

As of Thursday, 75.3 percent of the population had received at least one Covid jab, while 73.1 percent were fully vaccinated and 48.9 percent had received a booster. 

Member comments

  1. This looks like another wonderful decree from out benevolent government. Completely followed by carefully checked scientific data. And in no way a dumb idea.

  2. And yet again – what happens to those who aren’t allowed to get a booster by our Bundesoverlords because of the stupid 3 month post-infection rule (which is of course not scientifically backed)? How Lauterbach managed to be even worse than Spahn blows my mind.

    1. Can you see it yet?
      You’ll only ever meet the requirements of our dear leaders for a few weeks per year. The rest of the time, you’ll be fighting to try and catch up.
      The goal posts are running at this point.

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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

The EU recently recommended that masks no longer be mandatory in air travel - but Germany is not changing those rules, at least for now. Here's what you should know about mask rules in Germany.

EXPLAINED: Germany's current Covid mask rules

People in Germany have been wearing face coverings in lots of public places for around two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But in April, the mask rules were significantly relaxed.

It means that in Germany you currently don’t have to wear a mask (but can on a voluntary basis) in these places:

  • shops and supermarkets
  • restaurants, cafes and bars 
  • cultural buildings including museums and galleries
  • leisure venues, including gyms and cinemas
  • hairdressers and other body-related services

However, businesses can ask customers or visitors to wear a mask so you may find signs on the door of some venues or facilities. 

Some businesses will have a sign with the word Freiwillig (voluntary) and the mask symbol at their entrance, which means customers are encouraged to wear a mask but are not legally obligated to.

That’s the case at the Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt’s city centre as shown in this photo. 

A mask sign in Frankfurt.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

In Germany you still have to wear a mask in these places:

  • on public transport (all buses, trains and trams) and in stations
  • on flights to and from Germany
  • in hospitals and medical practices including doctors’ surgeries 
  • in care facilities, such as care homes for the elderly or other places where there are vulnerable people

What type of mask is required?

FFP2 masks have become standard in Germany, but it depends on the state or business rules. In some areas, medical masks are sufficient. 

But hasn’t the EU relaxed mask rules for flights?

Yes. However, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) move to end mandatory masks on flights earlier this month is only a guideline – and the ultimate decision lies with the country. 

A German Health Ministry spokesman told The Local: “The decision on mandatory masks is made by national authorities. The mandatory mask requirement in aircraft therefore continues to apply on all domestic German routes as well as on flights that take off or land in Germany.

“An FFP2 or medical mask must therefore be worn when boarding and disembarking as well as during the entire flight. This may only be removed when eating and drinking. Exceptions to the mask requirement exist for children under six years of age and, for example, for people who are not allowed to wear a mask for medical reasons.”

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear masks on planes?

Has there been any confusion on this?

Apparently so. There have been reports of some airlines not pointing out the rules for mask wearing in Germany. 

On at least two of Swiss Airline’s flights from Hamburg and Berlin to Zurich recently, Swiss cabin staff did not let passengers know about the mask requirement, reported German news site Spiegel. That is despite the rule that all travellers have to wear a medical face mask on all flights to and from Germany.

On the flight from Hamburg to Zurich, an estimated 40 percent of the approximately 200 passengers were travelling without face coverings, Spiegel said. When asked about this, the news site reported that a flight attendant said: “We don’t have a mask requirement at Swiss anymore.”

The Swiss airline, which belongs to the Lufthansa Group, lifted the requirement for masks on board at the beginning of April. However, it has to comply with the Covid regulations of the countries it flies to.

A sign telling people to wear a mask at Hamburg airport in February.

A sign telling people to wear a mask at Hamburg airport in February. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

One of the problems with the latest round of rules is that the legal situation in Europe varies – while countries such as France, Poland and Switzerland have abolished the obligation to wear masks in the cabin, it remains in force in Germany, and some other places including Spain.

Italy also requires FFP2 masks to be worn until June 15th at the earliest. In total, 14 EU countries still require people on flights to wear masks. 

A spokesperson for Swiss Airlines told Spiegel: “The obligation to wear a mask applies on flights to destinations where it is mandatory. Thus, for example, our guests have to wear the mask on flights to Germany, but not on flights to Switzerland. Our aircrafts are registered in Switzerland, so Swiss legislation also applies on board.”

READ ALSO: Do flights to and from Switzerland require face masks?

So will masks remain mandatory on flights – and on other transport in Germany?

Politicians have been speaking out recently about the possibility of lifting the mandatory mask rule in Germany. 

Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing, for instance, said that he supported getting rid of the mandatory requirement to wear a face mask on public transport in Germany, as well on planes.

But the Health Ministry told The Local that the mask wearing obligation will remain in place as part of the Infection Protection Act until at least September 23rd 2022 – unless the rules are “adapted to the situation”. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

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