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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
A gritter on the roads in Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

Accidents due to the severe winter weather, sick notes by phone could be allowed sooner and more news from around Germany.


Two dead in winter weather incidents

Two people have died and commuters are facing travel chaos as winter weather continues to wreak havoc in Germany.

In the Schwäbisch Hall district in Baden-Württemberg, a 71-year-old man died in a head-on collision on a snowy road earlier this week. And a 54-year-old driver died in a black ice accident near Denzerheide in Rhineland-Palatinate.

There were also road crashes due to black ice in other states, including Bavaria and Saxony, on Tuesday, with several people injured. 

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), snow and sleet are continuing in many parts of Germany today, causing icy roads and pavements.

The central state of Hesse was particularly affected on Tuesday, with several flights cancelled and delayed in Frankfurt airport, while disruption could lead into Wednesday. 

Temperatures dipped to -3 in Berlin early on Wednesday morning.

Sick note by telephone from GPs could come sooner

The German government was planning to allow patients to permanently get sick notes over the phone from their GP from early next year. 

Now German media reports that the new regulation could come as early as next month. 

It comes after GPs urged politicians to kick into gear sooner because of the increasing number of respiratory illnesses sweeping the country. 

The General Practitioners' Association said doctors were under severe pressure and called for telephone sick leave to be allowed immediately. 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) explains his hospital reform plans at a press conference in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

These changes cannot happen overnight, stressed Health Minister Karl Lauterbach in an interview with ARD.

"We are working as quickly as we can," he said. "Processes are simply slow in Germany." 

The topic is however on the agenda for the plenary session on December 7th, said Monika Lelgemann, the chairperson of the committee responsible for the change. She said that if the Federal Committee approves the regulation, it will come into force immediately from this date. 

Up until March 31st of this year, it was possible to get a sick note by phone from a GP for respiratory illnesses. This option was introduced to relieve practices and patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Can I take sick leave in Germany without going to the doctor?


Tyre maker Michelin to shut factories in Germany

French tyre manufacturer Michelin said it will close two factories and cut more than 1,500 jobs in Germany due to rising costs and competition from cheaper imports.

Michelin said in a statement it would end production at its sites in Karlsruhe and Trier by 2025, while the production of some products would cease at a site in Homburg.

A customer service centre in Karlsruhe that serves Germany, Austria and Switzerland will also be closed, with its operations to be transferred to Poland.

A total of 1,532 workers will be affected, the company said.

Michelin attributed the decision to "budget truck tyres from low-wage countries and rising production costs in Germany".

It also said "recent health and geopolitical crises" had pushed up operating costs, putting "additional strain on Germany's competitiveness as an industrial location".


German among Gaza hostages released Tuesday

A German woman was among 12 hostages released from Gaza on Tuesday as part of of an extended truce, Germany's Foreign
Minister said.

"Weeks of anguish have finally come to an end for other families: just today, 12 hostages were released - among them, a German woman. I'm relieved for them all," Annalena Baerbock wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

German singer admits inventing anti-Semitism claim

A German singer Tuesday admitted in court to lying when he accused two hotel employees of anti-Semitism in a viral video posted online two years ago.

Gil Ofarim, 41, had shared an emotional account on social media in October 2021 accusing staff at an upscale hotel in the eastern city of Leipzig of asking him to "put away" a Star of David pendant before checking in.

The post was shared thousands of times, raising alarm about resurgent anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany eight decades after the end of the Holocaust.

Gil ofarim

Gil Ofarim holds up a copy of his album at a press shoot in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tobias Hase

However investigators in a probe found "no evidence" to back up the allegation which led to the suspension of two hotel employees, leading to defamation charges against Ofarim last year.

In surprise testimony Tuesday, Ofarim admitted to the accusations, saying he had made up the story and asking the hotel staff for forgiveness.

Under the terms of a plea bargain with prosecutors, Ofarim agreed to donate €10,000 to Leipzig's Jewish community and the House of the Wannsee Conference, a Holocaust education centre, the court said in a statement.


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