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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

What’s happening in Germany this week?

From prices going up in supermarkets to an important vote in the Bundestag, here's what's on the agenda in Germany this week.

A customer in a supermarket in Neubiberg, Bavaria.
A customer in a supermarket in Neubiberg, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Supermarket prices go up

It’s the news nobody wants to hear right now: supermarkets are hiking their prices up once more in line with inflation. 

Discounter giant Aldi raised the prices for numerous food items on Monday.

Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel reported that the Milsani own-brand butter at Aldi Nord now costs around €2 instead of €1.65 as an example of the price hikes. The store had already increased the prices of various products twice in the past two weeks. There are also price increases at Edeka and Rewe.

As we reported last week, inflation in Germany has reached a post-reunification high of 7.3 percent. Consumer prices were already rising, and Russia’s war in Ukraine has made the situation much worse. 

READ MORE: Germany’s consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

School holidays start

The Osterferien or Easter holidays have started in some states this week. In Bremen, Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, children are off school for the next two weeks. Other states are set to follow. The Easter public holidays this year take place on Friday April 15th and Monday April 18th.

Getting used to new Covid rules

Most Covid restrictions have now been lifted across Germany – except in the states of Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania which have declared themselves hotspots.

The Covid pass entry rules – known as 2G or 3G in Germany – fell away at the weekend, although venues can choose to enforce them under their house rules. 

Masks are no longer mandatory in places like shops and in restaurants, bars and gyms. However, the obligation remains in place on public transport and in the likes of hospitals and care homes.

READ MORE: The Covid rules you still need to know in Germany

Key vote on vaccine mandate

Members of the Bundestag are set to vote on a general vaccine mandate in Germany on Thursday this week. 

However, as we reported on Monday, there will be no proposal calling for a vaccine obligation for all adults in Germany.

Now the focus will be on the over 50s, as well as counselling for younger people to try and convince them to get vaccinated. 

MPs will be able to vote with their conscience rather than on a party line, and it isn’t clear if any of the vaccine mandate proposals will receive any majority. 

READ MORE: German MPs scrap plan for over 18s vaccine mandate

And what’s the weather like?

It’s an unsettled week when it comes to the weather, with forecasters warning that there’s an autumn rather than spring feel: expect rain, strong winds and cool temperatures.

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), rain and wind coming from the North Sea are spreading across Germany on Monday and Tuesday. The DWD has issued warnings over strong gusts. 

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in November 2022 in Germany

From cheaper subscriptions to more worker rights, here's a look at what's changing in Germany starting Tuesday, November 1st.

Everything that changes in November 2022 in Germany

Sick pay not just for those who are sick

Starting November 1st, anyone who accompanies a person with a disability to the hospital – whether its their friend or relative – can claim loss of earnings in the form of Krankengeld, or sick pay. The prerequisite is a certificate stating that it was medically necessary to stay by the patient’s side. This Bescheinigung is issued by the attending physician together with the hospital admission.

READ ALSO: Working in Germany: The 10 rules you need to know if you fall ill

Rights for work meetings – even virtual ones

As of November 1st, general assembly or stakeholder meetings (Hauptversammlungen) can be held virtually — and officially carry the same weight as in-person gatherings. What started as a provisional measure amid the pandemic is now written into German law. Among other things, the new legislation stipulates how shareholders can exercise their rights – such as the right to speak and the right to information – at virtual general meetings. “We are creating more legal certainty for companies in the conduct of meetings,” wrote Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.

A woman uses her kitchen worktop as a standing desk while working from home.

A woman uses her kitchen worktop as a standing desk while working from home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

Vet visit increases

Starting November 22nd, visits to the veterinarian will go up between 20 and 100 percent, depending on the service. Each general visit for dogs will go up by €10, bringing the total cost to €23. The costs of vaccinations for both dogs and cats will go up €5.77 to €11.50. The new price tags are part of Germany’s “Fee regulation for vets” which has been updated for the very first time since 1999. 

READ ALSO: Hundesteuer: Germany collects record amount of dog tax

More equitable energy costs

Amid skyrocketing energy costs, many German energy suppliers introduced new – and significantly higher – tariffs for new customers to cover their high procurement costs. This will no longer be possible as of November, according to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur). Older contracts that included such price hikes will also have to be adjusted as of November 1st.

Get an extended tax deadline – and a public holiday too

If you still haven’t filed your 2021 taxes, and don’t have a Steuerberater (tax advisor), there’s still a small window of time left. While the deadline was extended Germany-wide to October 31st, it was pushed to November 1st for states that recognize the Feiertag of Reformation Day.

READ ALSO: Who benefits the most under Germany’s tax relief plans?

Higher public toilet prices

Starting November 18th, Autobahn drivers may have to pay a bit more to find relief at a rest stop: the prices for the approximately 400 public toilets operated by Sanifair will be going up from 70 cents to one euro. 

Drivers might not mind the toilet increase after being stuck in a traffic jam on the Autobahn. Photo by GUENTER SCHIFFMANN / AFP.

Netflix lowers its costs, with a catch

Looking to cut down on your finances but don’t want to give up your Netflix subscription? You can still save a few euros, as the popular online streaming service is now offering its service in Germany for €4.99 per month starting on November 3rd – at least for viewers who can put up with four or five minutes of ads per hour. This does not apply to children’s programming however. 

Google cleans up its act

Google is already doing its spring cleaning in November: starting at the beginning of the month 900 apps from its play store will no longer be available. Most of these soon-to-be-deleted apps don’t meet its new privacy guidelines.

App developers have until November to make adjustments to meet new standards. Those who need more time for this can request an extension of the deadline by six months from Google. However, apps that are already installed can still be used.

Sealing the deal on car insurance

Anyone who wants to change their car insurance to a cheaper provider should do so by November 30th. They must also have closed their former insurance by this date.

READ ALSO: What to know if you are buying a used car in Germany

Charges to exchange Ukrainian banknotes

Previously Ukrainian refugees in Germany could exchange hryvnia banknotes for euros free of charge. But the offer, agreed upon by the German Federal Ministry of Finance, the Deutsche Bundesbank and the National Bank of Ukraine, will expire on November 18. In all participating banks, Ukraine refugees can exchange up to 10,000 hryvnia (€275.95). Hryvnia bills in the amount of 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 are being accepted.

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