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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 Germany in May 2022

From public holidays and Covid rule changes to a tax deadline and shopping, here are the changes to know about in Germany this May.

Everything that changes in Germany in May 2022

May Day

Germany celebrated International Workers’ Day on May 1st. But Tag der Arbeit or Der Erste Mai, as the day is known in German, didn’t result in a day off work for most people because it fell on a Sunday this year. Schade. But no matter, there is another public holiday ahead…

READ ALSO: German politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

Ascension Day/Father’s Day

Is Thursday May 26th a religious holiday or a day when people in Germany, especially men, get extremely drunk? It’s actually both. Christi Himmelfahrt is about remembering Jesus’ ascent into heaven, but it’s also about day-drinking. 

That’s because it’s Father’s Day (Vatertag), or Men’s Day (Männertag), and the traditional way that Germans like to be thankful to dad is with a ton of alcohol. 

It’s a national public holiday in Germany every year so many people will get the day off work, and supermarkets will be closed. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans get wholly wasted on Ascension Day

Two men carry some beer in Geretsried, Bavaria, for Father's Day 2021.

Two men carry some beer in Geretsried, Bavaria, for Father’s Day 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

Covid ‘hotspots’ to drop several rules

Most people in Germany saw tough coronavirus restrictions – like 3G or 2G entry to venues – fall away around the start of April. But two states – Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – declared themselves Covid hotspots and lots of restrictions stayed in place. But that’s set to change. Hamburg’s hotspot regulations are set to end automatically at the end of April, while many of the remaining restrictions in Meck-Pom were lifted on Thursday, April 28th. 

READ ALSO: German Covid hotspot states to lift most restrictions

Pre-sale on €9 monthly travel ticket 

As The Local has been reporting, Germany is getting ready to introduce a massively reduced price ticket for three months over the summer to ease the cost of living and energy crisis. Now some transport providers say they will have a pre-sale on the ticket before it launches on June 1st. So keep an eye out online and in stations over the coming weeks. 

READ ALSO: How will Germany’s €9 monthly travel ticket work?

2020 tax deadline

Those who submit their tax return with the help of a tax advisor always get a little more time to process it. But all things come to an end. The 2020 tax return must be submitted to the tax office by May 31st 2022 at the latest. Anyone who misses the submission deadline will have to pay a late filing fee. This is usually 0.25 per cent of the assessed tax, but at least €25. If this affects you and you haven’t got your tax advisor sorted yet, do it quickly. 

Online banking

Do you have an account with Postbank and use the chipTAN procedure for online banking? Then you are in for a change from May – the method of processing transfers by bank card and reader at home will be dropped. It is to be replaced by the BestSign method, which enables online banking via an app in combination with biometrics or password.

Beer prices likely to go up

We’ve all been dealing with higher costs for the likes of groceries and energy recently. Now beer drinkers will soon have to dig deeper into their pockets. After some breweries already increased their beer prices in April, others will follow suit in May. The Radeberger and Bitburger groups have announced that their beers will become more expensive, according to the Lebensmittelzeitung. The price increase will initially only affect the retailers, but it is likely that they will pass on the additional costs to consumers.

Discounted food to be labelled differently

Before supermarkets remove food going out of date, many offer discounts. Traders have to indicate a new price for these discounted products, with a tag. But from the end of May, a simple notice such as “30 percent cheaper” will be allowed – without indicating the new reduced price. This makes labelling easier for employees and, in the best case, will lead to less food waste.

Vegetables in a German supermarket.

Vegetables in a German supermarket. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Price checking to become easier

Price comparisons at supermarkets and discounters are to become easier for customers from May 28th. Up until now, the prices on tags at the likes of Aldi, Lidl, Kaufland and co. have been displayed differently. Sometimes the price is indicated per 100 grams, sometimes per kilogram. Due to a change in the law, the latter will soon be the only price that can be displayed. According to the new Price Adjustment Ordinance, it has to be clear at a glance how much a kilogram or a litre of the product costs. Consumers will therefore be able to compare prices between shops more easily without having to do their own conversions.

READ ALSO: How Germany is making it easier for consumers to cancel contracts

More protection and clarity during online shopping

Many people wonder why when they shop online at places like Amazon or other marketplaces, certain products appear at the top and keep reappearing. This should become easier to understand in future. Under news laws coming in from May 2022, providers will have to show more clearly how the sorting criteria offered came about. This includes, for example, showing the number of views and the date the offer was posted, its rating or that of the provider, the number of sales of the product or the “popularity”, commissions or fees.

According to the new amendment, there is also a clear labelling obligation for sellers to indicate whether they are selling privately, reselling or are direct sellers. Online shopping platforms will also have to ensure the authenticity of product reviews and to monitor the ban on fake reviews more closely.

The change also affects comparison portals such as Check24 or Verivox. From May 28th, they will also have to disclose which providers were taken into account in a comparison. Ticket exchanges will also have to provide information about the original price of tickets in order to inform buyers about additionally charged costs and fees.

Violations of the new information requirements can cost companies a lot: according to consumer advice experts, fines of up to €50,000 are possible. Companies with an annual turnover of more than €1.25 million can be fined up to four percent of turnover.

A woman shops online in a Black Friday sal

A woman shops online in a Black Friday sale. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam

Checks for doorstep selling

People in Germany are to be better protected against dubious doorstep selling. In the case of contracts concluded during uninvited house calls, payment may no longer be demanded on the day the contract is concluded. Purchases that were made door-to-door should therefore be easier to revoke if the customer decides so. However, this only applies to items or services costing over €50.

More protection against rip-off ‘coffee tours’

According to estimates, every year five million Germans take part in bus trips which end up being sales events. They are known as “Kaffeefahrten” or coffee tours. But stricter regulations will come into force from May 28th. The providers of these events will have to indicate in their advertising in advance where the event will take place, how participants can contact the organiser and what goods will be offered for sale. And when the new law comes into force, certain products may no longer be sold. For instance, it will be strictly forbidden to offer medical products such as weight loss pills, food supplements and financial services such as insurance or building society contracts. Meanwhile, the fine for violations will increase from €1,000 to €10,000.

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