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BAVARIA

Bavarian premier urges Germans to get vaccinated on ‘moral’ grounds

The southeast German state premier urged people to get vaccinated, and is also looking to tighten 2G rules statewide, with so-called "2G Plus" for clubs.

Bavarian premier Markus Söder speaks at a press conference on Thursday.
Bavarian premier Markus Söder speaks at a press conference on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder (CSU) is planning to expand the southeastern German state’s “2G” rules, which would restrict more public places only to those who have been fully vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19. 

The 2G rule is already in place for many cultural and sports places in the state, but restaurants and hotels continue to operate under “3G,” where people can also gain access with a negative PCR test rather than a vaccination or recovery certificate. But Söder said tighter rules were needed.

“We need nationwide 2G in Germany,” added Söder during a press conference on November 11th.

READ ALSO: Germany sees more than 50,000 Covid cases in a day

The Bavarian premier is also moving to put in place a “2G Plus” rule in discos and clubs. This would mean that only the vaccinated and recovered could enter many public places, and that they would also need to show a negative test.

He is also calling for booster vaccinations, where the fully vaccinated receive another dose, to be made available to anyone who had their second dose at least five months previous, noting that “boosters had brought relief” in Israel after the country saw a spike in infections earlier this year.

Currently the recommendation from German health ministers is to get a booster shot after six months.

Söder also said Bavaria would reopen its closed vaccination centres for people to get their jabs. 

He cautioned that Bavarian hospital capacity was under stress and appealed to the unvaccinated to get the shot in order to protect others, calling it a “moral” act.

Ahead of a conference between federal and state leaders next week, Söder also called for a consensus on booster shots, and laws that would require hospital and care home staff to be vaccinated.

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HEALTH

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. 

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