Masks, distance and dancing: Clubs reopen for the day in the German capital

Some of Berlin's most legendary clubs will reopen on Saturday after more than six months, for a one-off event to highlight the pandemic-hit sector's fight for survival.

Masks, distance and dancing: Clubs reopen for the day in the German capital
Illustration photo: A summer night in a bar called "Club der Visionaere" in Berlin, July, 2013. Some of Berlin's most legendary clubs will reopen on October 3, 2020 for a one-off event. JOHANNES EISE

The “Day of Club Culture” open-house event is being organised by local authorities and Berlin's Club Commission nightlife organisation, with each of the around 40 participating venues receiving a 10,000 euro grant ($11,700).   

Among those taking part are some of the German capital's best known party temples, including About Blank, Club Der Visionaere, Sisyphos, Tresor, Schwuz and the Kitkatclub.

For the first time since the coronavirus shut them down more than six months ago, they will be allowed to pump out the music again as they host a range of mainly outdoor events in compliance with Covid-19 precaution measures like social distancing and mask wearing.

The events, ranging from concerts and dancing to debates and exhibitions, are set to start around midday and end by 1:00 am (2300 GMT) at the latest.

The day was chosen to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Germany's reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“For many people in the cultural scene, it's not just about preservation, but also about making the gravity of the situation and the value of culture understood,” DJ Laura Rochlitzer, who will be spinning tracks at club Anomaly, told AFP.

“We are a part of Berlin and we have a big influence on urban life and tourism,” she added.

READ ALSO:  The show must go on: How German orchestras are continuing concerts amid the pandemic

Klaus Lederer, Berlin's culture senator, told a news conference that clubs were more than a PR attraction for the city of Berlin. They are also “safe spaces” that are welcoming to minority groups and encourage diversity.

Fears of the virus spreading among tightly packed crowds in enclosed spaces forced clubs to be among the first to close at the start of the pandemic, and they will likely be among the last venues allowed to reopen, he said.

As part of a massive coronavirus rescue package to cushion the economic impact from the pandemic, the German government has unlocked over a billion euros in aid for the country's cultural industries, including 150 million euros for private music venues and nightclubs.

“We need the clubs,” federal culture minister Monika Gruetters has said.

READ ALSO: What does live music in Germany look like in the times of corona?


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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.