The Federal Government informs about the corona crisis

This is what the German government is doing to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Read in this ticker the most important facts about the current measures.

 

Bundespressekonferenz Corona
dpa

Corona

+++ Thursday, 2.12.2021 +++

To break the fourth Corona wave in Germany, the federal and state governments have agreed on much stricter guidelines and restrictions nationwide:

- People who have not been vaccinated are now only allowed to shop in grocery shops, pharmacies and drugstores. In all other shops, the 2G rule applies - only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter.


- Restaurants, cinemas, theatres and other leisure facilities may only be visited by vaccinated and recovered persons.


- Only persons of one's own household and a maximum of two persons of another household may attend private meetings with unvaccinated persons. Children under 14 years of age are exempt.


- In counties with a seven-day incidence of more than 350, a limit of 50 persons (vaccinated and recovered) indoors and 200 persons (vaccinated and recovered) outdoors applies to private parties and gatherings.


- Clubs and discotheques must be closed if there are high numbers of people infected with Corona because of the risk of infection. This applies at the latest from an incidence of 350 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.


- In schools, masks are compulsory for all grades.


- In future, dentists, pharmacists and nursing staff will also be allowed to carry out vaccinations against Corona.


- The number of participants for supra-regional sporting, cultural and comparable major events will be significantly restricted. In future, a maximum of 30 to 50 per cent of the seating capacity may be used. However, the maximum number of visitors indoors will be 5,000 and outdoors a maximum of 15,000.


- The sale of firecrackers and fireworks on New Year's Eve will be banned again this year.


- All aid measures for companies affected by the pandemic will be extended.


The federal government pledged to initiate a facility-based vaccination requirement for employees in hospitals and elderly care facilities, for example. The federal and state governments also welcome the fact that the Bundestag intends to decide on a general vaccination obligation in the near future.

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+++ Tuesday 30.11.2021 +++

The federal government and the federal states are planning tougher measures to combat the Corona pandemic. This will include additional contact restrictions for the unvaccinated. The minister presidents agreed on this in a video conference on Tuesday with the future German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel. Details are to be worked out by Thursday and then jointly decided, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. (with dpa)

 

+++ Monday, 29.11.2021 +++

The situation is more serious than at any time in this pandemic, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, referring to record infection figures and the transfer of patients. Together with the President of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar Wieler, he appealed to limit contacts and show solidarity.

"It is now half past twelve, but the wake-up call has still not reached everyone," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at a press conference. For the first time, patients have to be transferred within Germany on a larger scale. However, such a transfer does not work indefinitely, the minister said. This is because beds are also becoming scarcer in the rest of Germany. "Anyone who thinks that this wave is only going through Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony and Thuringia is mistaken."

"Currently, more than 4,000 covid patients are receiving intensive care," added Robert Koch Institute President Lothar Wieler. He said 2,000 patients alone had been admitted within a week. "The numbers are going steeply upwards, and in all federal states," Wieler continued. Most patients are between 50 and 79 years old, he said. 85 per cent require some form of ventilation. Care is now limited in the majority of hospitals: Transplantations, tumour patients no longer get their treatment.

Vaccination campaign picks up again

Wieler again called on all people to get vaccinated: "Without the measures and without the vaccinations, the situation would be much worse," he said. "Those who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to contract Covid-19, even if the vaccination protection wears off over time. Those who are fully vaccinated are also significantly less likely to have to go to hospital, to intensive care. And he has and she has a significantly lower risk of dying from Covid-19." A high vaccination rate and a low incidence, he said, is the best protection for all.

Health Minister Spahn took a positive view of an increasing number of vaccinations. In the past few days, more than 100,000 initial vaccinations had been carried out. Two million booster vaccinations were given this week. Every fifth person over the age of 60 is already protected by a booster - almost ten per cent of the total population.

According to Spahn, 18 million booster vaccine doses will be delivered this week and next. "Every vaccination gives hope that this winter will not be too dark after all, as it currently looks like," Spahn said.

Reduce contacts

Spahn and Wieler also spoke out in favour of contact restrictions. None of this would be of any use, said Spahn. The number of contacts must be significantly reduced. It is necessary to cancel celebrations and large events and to consistently observe the 2Gplus rule. The situation is dramatically serious.

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+++ Friday, 26.11.2021 +++

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has issued its recommendation that the Biontech vaccine now also be approved for the age group of five to eleven-year-olds. This is an important step towards being able to give vaccinations to children in the near future.

After completing its investigations, the EMA has come to the conclusion to recommend the Biontech vaccine for children aged five to eleven. The benefits of vaccination outweigh the possible risks. Until now, the Biontech vaccine was only approved in the EU for people aged twelve and older.

EU-wide approval imminent

This means that the EU-wide approval of the vaccine for children is imminent. The official approval decision of the EU Commission is still missing, but is expected soon. In addition, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (Ständige Impfkommission, STIKO) will issue an assessment for Germany on the vaccination of children between five and eleven.

Lower vaccine doses than for adolescents or adults

For children aged five to eleven, the vaccine dose of the BioNTech vaccine will be lower than for people aged twelve and older. The federal government is already actively procuring appropriate vaccine and preparing the vaccinations.

 

+++ Thursday, 25.11.2021 +++

The 3G rule has been extended, mandatory testing in hospitals and homes expanded and a renewed home office requirement introduced: The new Infection Protection Act continues to enable uniform protective measures against the coronavirus throughout Germany. The legislative package has come into force. With the amendment to the law, uniform nationwide corona protection measures are possible even after the determination of the epidemic situation of national scope has expired.

New measures complement proven regulations

Some new regulations are introduced. For example, the 3G regulation (vaccinated, recovered, tested) now applies in the workplace and on buses and trains. In hospitals, preventive care and rehabilitation facilities, the testing obligation for employees and visitors has been extended. The issuing and use of incorrect health certificates is punishable.

Many well-known protective measures such as the mask obligation and distance regulations are continued. For occupational infection control, the following also applies again: employees should work in a home office whenever possible. The social and economic protective shields will be extended. Measures such as 3G, 2G or 2G plus test can still be decided by the Länder depending on the infection situation. However, the ordering of curfews and accommodation bans or the blanket, area-wide closure of shops, schools, restaurants or sports facilities are excluded.

The regulations are to apply nationwide until 19 March 2022. An extension of three months is possible.

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The Cabinet has decided to extend the simplified access requirements for short-time allowance into next year. "Short-time work is proving to be an effective instrument for safeguarding millions of jobs during the COVID 19 pandemic," said Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil on the cabinet decision . However, the federal government assumes that there will still be adverse effects, especially in the first quarter of the coming year. Although the economic situation and the situation on the labour market have improved significantly since the beginning of the year, the effects of the pandemic could slow down this positive development.

Planning security for employers and employees

Individual federal states have already introduced 2G regulations in order to contain the fourth wave of infection. And it cannot be ruled out that further tightened measures will have to be taken, with then considerable impact especially on the local retail trade, the hospitality industry and other sectors in the service sector.

Therefore, the regulation will be extended. Until 31 March 2022 applies:

- A company can register for short-time work if at least ten percent of the employees are affected by the loss of work.

- The accumulation of minus hours is completely waived.

- Temporary workers also have access to short-time allowance.

- The maximum period of entitlement is 24 months.

- Until 31 December, employers will be reimbursed for 100 per cent of their social security contributions. With the extension, only 50 per cent will be reimbursed by the Federal Employment Agency. Employers can receive the other 50 per cent for employees who attend further training during short-time work.

The regulations are intended to continue to give the affected businesses - employers and employees - planning security in a difficult environment.

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24.11.2021

+++ Tuesday, 23.11.2021 +++

The vaccination campaign is ramping up again. Last week, a good two million vaccinations were administered in Germany. The two mRNA vaccines available - Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna - are safe and effective, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed on Monday. Those who have the chance to protect themselves and others with one of the two vaccines should do so, he stressed.

Vaccines from Moderna and Biontech are equivalent

Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for vaccines, also emphasised at the joint press conference that the vaccines from Moderna and Biontech/Pfizer are equivalent in terms of their high effectiveness and extremely rare probability of side effects. A booster vaccination significantly improves the vaccination protection - regardless of the manufacturer and with which vaccine or vaccine type the basic immunisation took place. A combination is possible.

Booster vaccination helps - regardless of the manufacturer

The vaccination protection decreases somewhat after the second vaccination - especially the protection against infection and passing on of the virus, informed Leif-Erik Sander, virologist at the Charité. Due to the highly contagious delta variant, even vaccinated people are increasingly playing a role again in the infection process. Therefore, the STIKO recommends a booster vaccination with an mRNA vaccine for all persons over 18 years of age. For pregnant women of all ages from the second trimester onwards and for persons aged 18 to 29 years, the STIKO recommends the vaccine from Biontech vaccine.

Demand for the vaccines is increasing

This week alone, six million doses of the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine will go into supply. Spahn said the demand would be so great that, starting next week, no more than two to three million doses of the BioNTech vaccine could be made available per week on a temporary basis. He stressed, "Everything we have and everything that is newly supplied will of course be delivered."

By the end of the year, 50 million doses of the two mRNA vaccines will be available for first, second and third vaccinations: 24 million doses of the Biontech vaccine and up to 26 million of the Moderna vaccine. That is enough for all upcoming vaccinations. The federal government expects that 25 to 30 million booster vaccinations will be administered by the end of the year.

 

+++ Monday, 22.11.2021 +++

In view of the continuing rise in infections and a tense situation in hospitals, the situation is more serious than last week in the view of Federal Health Minister Spahn and the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Wieler. "The momentum is unbroken," said Spahn. "It is ten past twelve."

"We are in a national emergency that also needs a joint effort," Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a joint press conference with Robert Koch Institute President Lothar Wieler on Friday. The incidence had increased fivefold in the past four weeks. RKI head Wieler pointed out that in 110 districts the seven-day incidence was over 500, and in 12 it was even over 1,000. The whole of Germany was a major outbreak, he said, and many hospitals were at breaking point. "We have to turn the tide now. There is really no time to lose," Wieler said.

Transfer of patients necessary

The overload of hospitals will continue to increase foreseeably, so that transfers of intensive care patients will become necessary, said the Federal Health Minister. Germany is divided into five regions, a kind of cloverleaf, in which patients can be transferred within a region, he said. For the first time since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, a situation will arise in which patients will have to be transferred to a greater extent, also abroad, said Spahn.

More speed in vaccination

Spahn sees progress in vaccination, but at the same time he stressed: "The truth is: with vaccination alone, with boosters, we will no longer achieve the breaking of the wave that we now need in the short term." In the meantime, he said, more than 45,000 doctors' practices are again involved in vaccinations - more than six million doses will be delivered in the coming week. So the trend is "clearly going in the right direction", the health minister said.

According to Spahn, contact restriction measures are also needed. On Thursday, the federal and state governments agreed on uniform and comprehensive measures. In future, the restrictions will be based in three stages on the hospitalisation rate in the respective federal state.

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Corona

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19.11.2021

+++ Thursday, 18.11.2021 +++

Merkel: "The situation is highly dramatic"

The federal and state governments have agreed on uniform, nationwide measures to combat the pandemic. In future, the restrictions will be based in three stages on the hospitalisation rate in the respective federal state. In addition, all those who already have vaccination protection are to receive a booster vaccination as soon as possible.
"It is absolutely time to act," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "The situation is highly dramatic." What matters now, she said, is that action is taken quickly and consistently. A quick stop to the exponential rise in infections is therefore needed. It will depend on everyone to adhere to the measures so that the situation does not worsen.

Hospitalisation as a yardstick

The federal and state governments have agreed on nationwide access restrictions in public life that are based on the hospitalisation rate in the respective state. The hospitalisation rate indicates the number of corona patients admitted to hospitals per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.
From a hospitalisation rate of 3, only vaccinated or recovered persons have access to leisure, cultural and sporting events, gastronomy as well as to services and accommodation close to the body.
If the hospitalisation rate is above 6, vaccinated and recovered persons must also present a negative test. This regulation applies especially in places with a particularly high risk of infection - such as discos, clubs or bars.  
In the event of a particularly high incidence of infection with a particularly high burden on the public health system, at the latest when the hospitalisation rate exceeds the value of 9, the Länder will take further measures - subject to the approval of the Land parliaments - and may thus also decide on contact restrictions.
If the threshold value is undercut for five days in a row, the regulations can be withdrawn again. Children and adolescents under 18 and people who cannot be vaccinated are exempt from the rules that only vaccinated or recovered people have access.

"It's never too late to get vaccinated"

Despite many successes of the vaccination campaign, too many people in Germany are still unvaccinated. This makes it difficult and endangers a sustainable, comprehensive and long-term management of the infectious disease epidemic. "We could be in a better position if the vaccination gap were not so large," Merkel said. 
To all those who have not yet been vaccinated, the Chancellor appealed: "It is never too late to get vaccinated. Even now, you can still make a good contribution to yourself and to the community with an initial vaccination." Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz also called for more vaccinations: "My appeal is for everyone to make a move and make a decision for themselves, for their loved ones, for their relatives."
Those who already have vaccination protection should also receive a booster vaccination in a timely manner. The federal and state governments reaffirmed that they will make everyone an offer. Several million people are involved. "This requires a really big effort," said the Chancellor. To this end, the federal, state and local governments must now expand vaccination services. According to the resolution, mobile vaccination teams, vaccination centres, hospitals, low-threshold services, doctors' surgeries, company doctors and doctors from public health offices are to be included in the vaccination campaign.
In order to contain the pandemic, free citizen tests and strict testing obligations in nursing homes are also important. The federal and state governments also agreed on a care bonus.
 

+++ Thursday, 18.11.2021 +++

Booster vaccinations not only for people at particular risk, but for everyone over 18 - this is now also recommended by the Standing Commission on Vaccination. The third vaccination should usually be given six months after the second vaccination.
The Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) has updated and expanded its recommendation for the booster of the Corona vaccination. Now it recommends the so-called booster vaccination not only for people at risk, but generally for all people over the age of 18.
Already on 5 November, the federal and state health ministers had agreed to offer the third vaccination to all who want it.

Vaccination for all, but priority for those at risk

Many people who are particularly at risk have not yet received the third vaccination. Therefore, the STIKO emphasises that the vaccination should be offered primarily to people who are particularly at risk: People with immunodeficiency, people over 70 years of age, residents and persons cared for in institutions for the elderly, as well as staff in medical and nursing facilities.
And of course, people who have not been vaccinated so far should be vaccinated as a matter of priority.

18.11.2021

+++ Friday, 12.11.2021 +++

The free Corona citizen tests will be reintroduced. Federal Health Minister Spahn signed a decree to this effect. Every citizen is now entitled to at least one rapid antigen test per week.
Every citizen can once again be tested for the corona virus free of charge. A regulation of the Federal Ministry of Health, which regulates this, comes into force already on Saturday. This means that everyone will then be entitled to at least one free rapid antigen test (PoC test) per week - and this applies regardless of vaccination or recovery status.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn emphasized: "Vaccination makes a decisive difference - this will continue to apply - but it takes time to develop its full effect. That's why we need to test more again quickly in this situation. To this end, it has been agreed that we will reintroduce the free rapid tests."
Existing testing centers can continue their work. In addition, further test centers can be commissioned by the states. Spahn explained that he expects that starting next week, the range of tests on site will also be gradually expanded again.
For more information, see our Q&A on Corona testing.

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At a joint press conference with RKI President Lothar Wieler, the acting Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn appealed urgently to take the infection situation seriously and to take countermeasures: "Otherwise it will be a bitter December for the whole country". Since the end of September, the R-value has been above 1. If this does not change, one must assume that the number of new infections with the coronavirus will double every fortnight.

What such high infection figures mean with a vaccination rate that is still too low can already be seen in intensive care units in some regions in Germany - especially in Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria. "There are hospitals there that are already over the limit. In these regions, there is currently the risk that if you have an emergency - stroke, heart attack - the capacities that you would otherwise be used to are not always immediately available on site," explained Spahn.

Containment measures imperative

The dynamic must be broken, said Spahn. The health ministers of the Länder therefore already decided at the end of last week, together with the Federal Health Minister, to offer booster vaccinations for every six months after the second vaccination. They also agreed on stricter requirements and controls on access to events as well as mandatory testing concepts for nursing homes.

"But all this is not enough, at least not any more," said the Federal Health Minister. He pleads for additional testing obligations for staff and visitors in nursing homes, for 3G (vaccinated, recovered or tested) in the workplace and 2G (vaccinated or recovered) at public events. In addition, he said, it would be useful for convalescents and vaccinated people to be able to show an up-to-date test at events. "2G Plus, that's another hard step, I'm very aware of that," Spahn said.

Dynamic infection - serious situation

"It is 5 past 12," warned the president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Wieler. In federal states with very high infection incidence, hospitals and intensive care units are already reaching their capacity limits. Wieler assumes that the situation will continue to worsen throughout Germany. He therefore urgently pleaded for additional measures to contain the incidence of infection.

To defuse the situation as quickly as possible, Wieler appealed: "Reduce your contacts. Above all, avoid situations where several people come together indoors. Please follow the AHA-and-L rules always and everywhere, also at 2G and 3G events. So wear a mask even at 2G. If you have symptoms of acute respiratory infection, please make sure you stay at home and get tested by PCR."

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The federal and state governments will again discuss the current Corona pandemic situation next Thursday, 18 Nov 2021. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet with the heads of government of the Länder at noon. The meeting will take place via video conference.

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The EU states of Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary are considered Corona high-risk areas from 0:00 on Sunday, 14 November. Exceptions in Austria are the municipalities of Mittelberg and Jungholz and the Rißtal in the municipal area of Vomp and Eben am Achensee.

The United States of America, on the other hand, is no longer considered a high-risk area as of Sunday.

Observe entry regulations

People entering Germany from a high-risk area must fill out a digital entry form. Returnees who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered must also enter quarantine in Germany. This can be ended after five days at the earliest by a current negative coronary test.

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+++ Thursday, 11.11.2021 +++

The Corona warning app now offers the possibility to scan QR codes for events in the luca app.The advantage of this innovation is that organisers will no longer have to issue two different QR codes in future. Thus, it is sufficient to offer one luca QR code. For users of the Corona warning app who do not use the luca app, another important function is thus offered that makes it easier in everyday life to register for events.

The functionality and high data protection standards of the Corona warning app remain unchanged. The app still does not collect any personal data. Nor is any data transferred from the Corona warning app to the luca app. What is important to know about the implementation is that the Corona warning app can only scan luca codes generated from 25 May 2021. Operators who still use older codes must therefore update them.

Two apps, two different approaches

The Corona warning app and the luca app are still based on different approaches and pursue different goals.

In the event of an infection, the Corona warning app enables people to be warned quickly according to the peer-to-peer principle. This warning takes place anonymously via the Corona warning app itself. The luca app, on the other hand, is mainly used to digitally record the contact data of participants at an event. In the event of infection, the person who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 passes on their contact details to the responsible health authority. This then contacts all persons who have scanned the same QR code.

The respective state ordinances on infection control stipulate whether and how contact tracing must take place at events. 

+++ Tuesday, 9.11.2021 +++

"We have very difficult weeks ahead of us," emphasised Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn in view of the high infection figures and the high and increasing burden on hospitals and especially intensive care units. It is now a matter of working together to "break this fourth wave", he said at the end of the two-day conference of health ministers in Lindau on Lake Constance.

Booster vaccinations should "become the rule".

The federal and state health ministers have spoken out in favour of offering booster vaccinations for all age groups. According to Spahn, this is an "important signal" these days, on which they also agree with the medical profession. Because: "We need more speed" with the so-called booster vaccinations.

This means that anyone whose second vaccination was given more than six months ago can receive the booster vaccination. In particular, older people, people with pre-existing conditions and medical and nursing staff are to be actively targeted. "Boosters after six months should become the rule, not the exception," says Spahn.

As before, it is possible to get not only the initial vaccination but also the booster vaccination at doctors' surgeries. In addition, there should be further offers by the Länder and municipalities, for example mobile offers such as vaccination buses, but also vaccination centres.

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends a booster vaccination with an mRNA vaccine (at the earliest six months after the second vaccination) for people who are particularly at risk. This concerns, among others, everyone over 70, people in nursing homes and the immunodeficient. In addition to this recommendation, everyone over the age of twelve can receive a booster vaccination six months after the second vaccination.

"2 G" as an option for regions with a high incidence of infection

The "3-G" rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested), which has been applied in many places so far, has now become even more important as an entry requirement for indoor events, for example. However, there is agreement that the implementation of this rule needs to be better controlled.

For certain regions with a very high incidence of infection, there is also the option of applying the "2-G" rule (vaccinated or recovered). Some Länder had already introduced this rule in some cases, and now for the first time there was consensus between the federal government and all the Länder that this option should be available in some particularly burdened regions.

Tests in nursing homes, also for vaccinated and convalescent patients

In future, tests will be compulsory in nursing homes, also for vaccinated and convalescent patients. This applies to both staff and visitors.

According to Spahn, the aim is to "protect the places where the particularly vulnerable live". This is to prevent the virus from being carried into the facilities.

 

+++ Thursday, 04.11.2021 +++

"The pandemic is obviously not only still here, but the fourth wave is doing so with particular force," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on the current situation of the Corona pandemic. At present, it is "primarily a pandemic of the unvaccinated - and it is massive", said Spahn. Since not enough people have been vaccinated and behavioural instructions to protect against infection as well as the 2G and 3G rules are no longer sufficiently implemented, the wave is unfortunately developing exactly as feared, added the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) Lothar Wieler.

With the recent surge in the number of infections, not only the number of deaths has risen - more people are being treated in hospitals and intensive care units. Therefore, state protection and personal responsibility are now needed. Spahn said the biggest challenge was that the vast number of people who had not yet been vaccinated could hardly be persuaded to get vaccinated after all.

Three points to contain pandemic in autumn and winter

In order to break the fourth wave, the minister presented three points, the implementation of which he will discuss with the health ministers of the federal states on Thursday and Friday.

1. consistently adhere to precautionary measures that have been adopted

Spahn appealed to keep distance and hygiene rules and to implement 3G and 2G models. He called for consistent monitoring by the authorities and for fines to be imposed for violations. In regions where the incidence of infection is particularly high, the 2G model (vaccinated and recovered) must be enforced. This has nothing to do with vaccination bullying, but protects against overloading the health system, said Spahn.

2. compulsory testing concepts for nursing homes

Since residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable people, Spahn advocated mandatory testing regardless of vaccination status. Testing would apply to staff and visitors who could carry the virus into the facility. "I don't want to have to experience dying in nursing homes again like last winter," Spahn said.

3. increase the pace of booster vaccination

The number of booster vaccinations must increase quickly, he said. "The pace of boosting is not enough," Spahn said. The Minister referred to the agreement of the Conference of Health Ministers to offer a booster vaccination to all residents in care facilities, the staff there and all people over 60. The two million booster vaccinations that have now been achieved are "clearly too few". 

Solidarity remains the order of the day

RKI President Wieler also called once again for vaccination and compliance with the AHA+L rules. He made it clear that the vaccination does not have the same effect on all vaccinated people and that the vaccination protection can diminish over time, especially in older people who are already very vulnerable. Nevertheless, Wieler said, solidarity remains the order of the day. "We all want this winter to be the last winter of the Covid 19 pandemic," Wieler said. For this reason, everyone bears responsibility for the further development of the fourth wave. With vaccination and compliance, many lives could be saved, he added.

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In Romania, many hospitals are currently overloaded due to the high number of Corona cases - especially the emergency rooms and intensive care units. Germany and other European countries have therefore promised help.

With the support of the German Armed Forces' AirMedEvac aircraft, a total of 18 intensive care patients have been brought to Germany in the last three days and are now receiving further intensive care treatment in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Bavaria.

Contact tracing operations intensified again

Domestically, the Bundeswehr is also continuing to provide support in coping with the pandemic. Currently, about 190 soldiers are active in 45 measures within the framework of administrative assistance. The soldiers are also increasingly involved in contact tracing at health offices. Due to the rising number of infections, the number of requests for administrative assistance has also increased slightly.

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With the update to version 2.13, the Corona warning app gets a recycle bin function for certificates. It keeps deleted certificates for the time being and users can thus also restore them. The 7-day incidence of hospitalisation is now also displayed on a local level and the assignment of certificates to persons is now more error-tolerant.

Manage certificates better

Version 2.13 adds a recycle bin function for certificates to the Corona Warn app. The expansion of the certificate section of the app into a so-called wallet through update 2.5 made it possible to display different digital certificate types (vaccination or convalescent status, PCR or rapid test result). However, if users delete these certificates now, the virtual recycle bin keeps them for another 30 days. Accidentally deleted ones can thus be restored.

In addition, the allocation of certificates has been improved. The Corona warning app now assigns certificates that have a different number of spaces between the person's first and last name to the same person. Previously, this spelling error caused the Corona Warning app to assign these certificates to two different people.

Hospitalisation rate and number of COVID-19 sufferers in intensive care units

To ensure that users can continue to find out about all the important key figures of the pandemic in the app, the statistics section was expanded with the update to version 2.12. There, the 7-day hospitalisation rate and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units can also be found. There, the 7-day incidence of hospitalisation and the number of people infected with Covid 19 in intensive care units can also be found. With version 2.13, the 7-day incidence of hospitalisation is now also displayed at the level of the federal states. 

 

+++ Monday, 01.11.2021 +++

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has recorded a clear trend since the end of September: new infections with the coronavirus are on the rise again. Compared to the previous week, the 7-day incidence in all age groups currently increased significantly. High 7-day incidences were observed in the age groups of 5- to 49-year-olds as well as in those over 90 years of age. This is shown in the current RKI status report on Covid-19.

The incidence of hospitalised cases and the number of Covid-19 cases in intensive care units also increased, according to the report, and a significantly higher number of reported outbreaks in medical facilities and in homes for the elderly and nursing homes were recorded.

Complete vaccination protection is important

In the situation report, the RKI points out that with the current 7-day incidences, there is an increasing probability of infectious contacts. Therefore, it is urgently recommended to take advantage of the vaccination offer against Covid-19 and to ensure complete vaccination protection - i.e. to also have the second vaccination, which is provided with almost all Corona vaccines. The option of a booster vaccination should also be used by people for whom the Standing Committee on Vaccination recommends this.

In case of mild symptoms, affected people should stay at home and get tested, if possible with a PCR test - even vaccinated people. In addition, the RKI asked all people to consistently follow the AHA+L rules (keep your distance, observe hygiene, wear a mask in everyday life, ventilate regularly), avoid situations especially indoors where so-called super-spreading events can occur, reduce unnecessary contact and continue to use the Corona warning app.

+++ Thursday, 28.10.2021 +++

The economic recovery after the Corona crisis year 2020 continues. Next year, the federal government expects an increase in the gross domestic product of 4.1 percent. In 2021, the economy is expected to grow by 2.6 percent. This is according to the Federal Government's autumn report.

Slightly lower growth in 2021

"The German economy is on the upswing," emphasised Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier at the presentation of the Federal Government's Autumn Report. The gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase by 2.6 percent in 2021. In 2022, growth of as much as 4.1 percent is possible, until it normalises at 1.6 percent in 2023.

This means that the economic recovery in 2021, after the sharp slump in the economy last year, will be somewhat lower than the federal government expected at the end of April. Current supply bottlenecks and high energy prices are equally dampening economic development in Europe and worldwide, Altmaier said.

2022 back to performance strength ahead of Corona

Next year, however, the economy is expected to pick up considerable speed again. In concrete terms, the government expects growth of 4.1 per cent, which is 0.5 points more than previously thought. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, the German economy would then already have reached its pre-Corona pandemic performance level, according to Federal Economics Minister Altmaier."The autumn projection shows that Germany is back on the growth path after the Corona crisis. The Federal Government's extensive aid package has stabilised the economy and the labour market during the crisis," Altmaier emphasised.

 

+++ Wednesday, 20.2021 +++

With version 2.12 of the Corona warning app, the universal QR code scanner has been integrated into the tab at the bottom of the screen. The function can now be accessed more quickly and centrally. At the same time, the QR code scanner remains in the familiar locations in the Corona Warning app. Since version 2.11, users have already been able to scan all QR codes supported by the Corona warning app, regardless of whether they are tests, certificates or check-ins. In the course of this, the icons on the tab have also been adapted. Users can now reach the start screen via "Status".

Hospitalisation rate and number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units

The statistics section has also been expanded so that users can continue to find out about all the important key figures on the pandemic in the app. The 7-day incidence of hospitalisation and the number of people infected with Covid 19 in intensive care units can now also be found there. The 7-day incidence of hospitalisation refers to the number of people who come to a hospital because of a Covid 19 diagnosis. It maps the transmitted cases over one week per 100,000 population. The number of covid-19 patients in intensive care units indicates the proportion of covid patients in the occupancy of intensive care beds in Germany.

Unified message settings and import of QR codes

In addition, the message settings have been standardised in the new version. As with other apps, users can now precisely define settings for notifications of the Corona warning app in the device settings of their smartphone. There, they can not only switch notifications on or off as before, but also define individual notification types. There is another innovation for iOS users: they can now also import supported QR codes from images or PDF documents. After opening the QR code scanner, they can select "Open file" at the bottom left and import a QR code from their image or file library. For Android users, this function has already been available since version 2.11.

 

+++ Thursday, 14.10.2021 +++

The economy has recovered significantly, but some industries continue to experience Corona-related losses. The federal government had therefore extended the Bridging Assistance III Plus as well as the Restart Assistance Plus until December 31, 2021. Affected companies and solo self-employed persons can now submit applications for the extended Überbrückungshilfe III Plus and Neustarthilfe Plus for the funding period October to December 2021.
The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology announced in a press release that companies affected by sales losses and wishing to take advantage of the Bridging Assistance III Plus for the extended period until the end of the year can now submit their applications for it. The same applies to solo self-employed persons and the New Start-up Assistance Plus. Applications can be submitted via the familiar platform www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de. The relevant funding conditions are published in the form of FAQs on the platform.

Proven promotion continued

With more than 100 billion in aid disbursed, Bridging Assistance I, II, III and III Plus have been a key aid tool in the Corona pandemic. The federal government is continuing this assistance, for those who still need it. The content of the Bridging Assistance III Plus, which is extended through the end of the year, is largely the same as the Bridging Assistance III Plus for July, August, and September.
Companies with a Corona-related drop in sales of at least 30 percent are also eligible to apply for the extended Bridging Assistance III Plus. In addition, all those businesses eligible to apply for Bridging Assistance III in June 2021 that were affected by the flooding in July are eligible to apply. Application processing and disbursement are the responsibility of the states.

Restart aid remains

The so-called Restart Premium, which was intended to specifically ease the transition from lockdown to reopening within the Bridging Assistance III Plus program by providing a personnel cost subsidy, has fulfilled its purpose. It expired on schedule at the end of September.
The equity subsidy, which is intended to strengthen the substance of companies that have been particularly hard hit and are still affected, will continue to be available beyond September until December 2021. The New Start-Up Assistance Plus for the self-employed will also be extended. For the period from October to December, solo self-employed persons whose sales are further restricted by Corona can thus receive additional support of up to 4,500 euros. Eligible for the direct application Neustarthilfe Plus, are - as before - solo self-employed with or without partnerships as well as other groups of persons, such as so-called short term employees in the performing arts and independent employees. The prerequisite is in particular that the self-employment is carried out as a main occupation and that no more than one part-time employee is employed.
 

+++ Friday, 08.10.2021 +++

The German vaccination campaign is more successful than previously assumed. This is confirmed by figures from the Robert Koch Institute. These show that up to five percent more citizens in Germany are vaccinated than can be seen in the reporting data.
According to a new survey by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the vaccination rate among adults in Germany is higher than previously assumed. In the evaluation of the RKI's vaccination rate monitoring (COVIMO), "in the adult population, a proportion of up to 84 percent who have been vaccinated at least once and a proportion of up to 80 percent who have been fully vaccinated can be assumed".
The discrepancy between the reported vaccinations and the current findings of the RKI apparently results from the fact that vaccinations have not been reported. Gaps were found, among others, among company doctors or also during missions of the mobile vaccination teams, such as in old people's homes. "That can always happen in such a large campaign," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.

COVID-19 Vaccination Rate Monitoring in Germany (COVIMO)

Since January 2021, the Robert Koch Institute has been monitoring COVID-19 vaccination rates as well as COVID-19 vaccination readiness and acceptance by means of telephone surveys in Germany. The last survey took place between 26.07.21 and 18.08.21. 1,005 adults were interviewed about corona vaccination. This is the 7th survey conducted by the RKI.

+++

Due to the current infection situation, some regions - including Estonia and Latvia - will be reclassified as high-risk areas as of Sunday. For other countries, however, this classification will be lifted. Since 1 August, the rules of the new entry regulation apply to all travellers.
The EU states Estonia and Latvia as well as Ukraine will be considered Corona high-risk areas from Sunday, 10 October.
The two non-European states Yemen and Brunei Darussalam are also now classified as high-risk areas.
The French overseas territories of French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthélemy and St. Martin, on the other hand, will no longer be considered high-risk areas as of Sunday. The same applies to the Norwegian provinces of Oslo and Viken as well as some other regions.

Observe new entry regulations

People entering Germany from a high-risk area must fill out a digital entry form. Returnees who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered must also go into quarantine in Germany. This can be ended after five days at the earliest by a current negative coronary test.
This list shows which states or regions are currently classified as virus variant or high-risk areas.
The most important regulations of the entry regulation in force since 1 August 2021 can be found here.
The classification of high-risk areas and virus variant areas is carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health in agreement with the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Construction and Home Affairs for areas outside the Federal Republic of Germany for which a particularly increased risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been identified.

 

+++ Wednesday, 06.10.2021 +++

"Please get vaccinated against influenza," appealed Federal Health Minister Spahn at the start of the flu season. With a vaccination, you protect yourself, but also help to ensure that the health system is not overburdened. It is possible to be vaccinated against both influenza and corona at the same time: "Double vaccination also leads to double protection.
This year it is especially important to get vaccinated against influenza, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at a joint press conference with RKI President Lothar Wieler and STIKO Chairman Thomas Mertens.

Flu is not a harmless disease

The flu is not a harmless disease, but can take a very serious, sometimes fatal course, especially in those who have already been ill or are elderly. One can protect oneself against this with a vaccination.
But one also helps "to ensure that the health system does not come under too much strain this autumn and winter", said Spahn. RKI President Wieler stressed the need to prevent "too many COVID-19 cases and many flu cases occurring in parallel in winter".

27 million flu vaccine doses available

"More than enough" flu vaccines are available for the autumn, he said. 27 million vaccine doses had been ordered - after 22 million vaccinations last autumn, more people in Germany had been vaccinated against influenza than ever before.
In contrast to last year, the vaccine doses will be available early so that the demand can be met without waiting times.

STIKO: Flu and Corona vaccination possible at the same time

"Those who have not yet had a Corona vaccination or need a booster can combine it at the same time as the flu vaccination," said Spahn.
This is because the STIKO has issued a new vaccination recommendation for the start of the flu season: The flu vaccination and the Corona vaccination can be given at the same time, there is no minimum interval between the two vaccinations. In particular, those who have not yet received a vaccination can thus effectively protect themselves from sometimes severe illnesses in autumn and winter.

Continue to adhere to AHA-plus-L rules

It is still important, also for protection against flu viruses, to observe the AHA-plus-L rules. For example, wearing medical protective masks in public transport makes a difference against both corona and flu viruses, the Federal Minister of Health emphasised.
The more at-risk patients were vaccinated against influenza and the more people were vaccinated against COVID-19 and the more people adhered to the AHA-plus-L rules, "the better we will get through this autumn and this winter", said RKI President Wieler.

+++

With the update to version 2.11, the Corona warning app receives a universal QR code scanner. This allows users to scan all QR codes supported by the warning app at any point within the app. The Corona Warning app recognises what it is about and automatically saves the certificate or event registration in the right place.
Until now, users could only use the respective QR code scanner of the Corona Warning app for a specific assigned purpose, for example, to add vaccination, convalescent or test certificates under "Certificates", but not to register for events there. With the new version 2.11, the Corona-Warn app can now scan all QR codes it supports anywhere in the app and automatically save them in the right place.
Example: Users can now select the function "Scan QR code" under the heading "Check-in" and use it to scan a digital vaccination certificate, for example. The Corona Warning app recognises that it is a vaccination certificate and saves it accordingly under "Certificates". Previously, the Corona Warning app could not read the QR code in this case because it would only have accepted registrations for events at this point.

Importing QR codes from files

Users of Android devices also have the option of importing QR codes from photos or PDF files via the QR code scanner in future and no longer necessarily have to scan them with the camera.
To do this, they can open any QR code scanner in the Corona Warning app. After clicking on "Scan QR code", it is possible to select "Open file" at the bottom left and import a QR code from your image or file library. The Corona Warning app reads the QR code on the image or file and saves the certificate, test or event in the corresponding area of the Corona Warning app, depending on the type of QR code.
For iOS users, this function will be available promptly from version 2.12.

 

+++ Tuesday, 05.10.2021 +++

Most non-vaccinated people should no longer receive compensation for an ordered Corona quarantine from 1 November at the latest. This was decided by the federal and state health ministers.
In the meantime, there is enough vaccine so that basically everyone who wants to can be vaccinated against Covid-19. Therefore, in future, no compensation will be paid in all federal states in the event of an ordered quarantine due to Covid-19 for unvaccinated people - at the latest from 1 November. This was decided by the federal and state health ministers on Wednesday.
There are to be two exceptions:
- Someone cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and has a certificate to that effect.
- Or he or she belongs to a group of people for whom there was no public recommendation for vaccination against Covid-19 in a period of up to eight weeks before the segregation order was issued.

Infection Protection Act is applied

For Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, the decision is a question of fairness towards those who have been vaccinated: "Why should others pay for someone deciding for themselves not to be vaccinated?"
The decision is about an application of a passage of the Infection Protection Act in paragraph 56, which already existed before the Corona pandemic: Anyone who could have avoided quarantine by getting a recommended vaccination can be exempted from compensation. For example, after a trip to the tropics.
 

+++ Monday, 27.09.2021 +++

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing 6.5 million euros for research into corona late effects. Ten projects will be funded - among others on outpatient care, rehabilitation and nursing as well as on the cooperation between specialised Long Covid outpatient clinics and general practitioners.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek emphasises the urgency of researching late symptoms of Covid-19 (Long-Covid) - also because the pandemic is not yet over. "Very many Covid-19 patients are still suffering from symptoms weeks or months afterwards - regardless of the severity of the course of the disease," says Karliczek. Providing the best possible care for these people remains a challenge for doctors and, in a special way, for science.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has now selected ten projects that pursue different approaches and will fund them for a period of usually two years. 6.5 million euros are available for this. This is 1.5 million euros more than originally planned with the "Guideline for the funding of research projects on late symptoms of Covid-19" from May 2021. Of particular importance are projects on outpatient care, rehabilitation and care and on cooperation between specialised Long Covid outpatient clinics and GP primary care.

It is estimated that about ten percent of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience long-term symptoms that can last several weeks or months. The most common late symptoms include extreme exhaustion, headaches, lack of concentration, shortness of breath and loss of the sense of smell and taste.

 

+++ Thursday, 23.09.2021 +++

In view of the worldwide dynamic infection rate, it remains necessary to continue necessary and proven protective measures against the further spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, the Federal Cabinet last decided on 22 September to extend the regulation on entry quarantine up to and including 10 November 2021.

Since 28 July:

- People entering the country from a new virus variant area can now end their mandatory 14-day quarantine early with a negative Corona test, provided the region they are coming from is downgraded to a risk area or a high-incidence area during the quarantine period. Early free testing is otherwise not possible for people entering Germany.

- Those who have full vaccination protection can then end their quarantine by sending the vaccination certificate if the Robert Koch Institute determines and publishes on its website that this vaccine is sufficiently effective against the virus variant that led to the area being classified as a virus variant area.

Almost all countries in the world are still affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. Travel and border traffic can contribute to the faster spread of the corona virus in Germany and to the emergence of new foci of infection. The aim of the Corona Virus Entry Ordinance is to prevent this.

Since mid-May, the ordinance has brought together the various elements on the topic of entry in a uniform and comprehensive manner throughout Germany. It regulates the registration, testing and verification obligations as well as the quarantine regulations after entry.

Most non-vaccinated persons should no longer receive compensation in the event of an ordered Corona quarantine from 1 November at the latest. This was decided by the federal and state health ministers. In the meantime, there is enough vaccine so that basically everyone who wants to can be vaccinated against Covid-19. Therefore, in future, no compensation will be paid in all federal states in the event of an ordered quarantine due to Covid-19 for unvaccinated people - at the latest from 1 November. This was decided by the federal and state health ministers on Wednesday.

There are to be two exceptions:

- Someone cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and has a certificate to that effect.

- Or he or she belongs to a group of people for whom there was no public recommendation for vaccination against Covid-19 in a period of up to eight weeks before the segregation order was issued.

Infection Protection Act is applied

For Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, the decision is a question of fairness towards those who have been vaccinated: "Why should others pay for someone deciding for themselves not to be vaccinated?"

The decision is about an application of a passage of the Infection Protection Act in paragraph 56, which already existed before the Corona pandemic: Anyone who could have avoided quarantine by getting a recommended vaccination can be exempted from compensation. For example, after a trip to the tropics.

However, anyone who falls ill with Covid-19 and is unable to work is entitled to continued payment of wages and, if applicable, sick pay in the event of illness - even if he or she was not vaccinated.

 

+++ Tuesday, 21.09.2021 +++

There are still no official rules on the need for booster vaccinations. However, with the update to version 2.10, the Corona Warning App is already ready to implement possible rules and quickly inform users who need a booster. In addition, vaccination certificates will also be available as PDF documents in the future.

Information on booster vaccination

With the 2.10 update, the Corona Warning app is ready to quickly inform users about any upcoming booster vaccinations. While there are still no official regulations on the need for booster vaccinations. However, with the update to version 2.10, the app can already implement possible rules and inform users who need a booster.

Since update 2.9, users who have received a booster vaccination can transfer it to the Corona-Warn app. The project team behind Corona-Warn-App continues to adapt the app to current pandemic events. Updates are currently being made in a two-week rhythm. Six more updates are planned by the end of the year.

Save, share, print vaccination certificates

With version 2.10, there will be a print version of the vaccination certificates in the app in the future. This will make it possible to save the certificate as a PDF document, send it or print it out again. This function is also useful in case the original document from the pharmacy or vaccination centre has been lost. A certificate wallet has been available in the Corona Warning app since version 2.5. In the wallet, tested, vaccinated and recovered users can integrate digital vaccination certificates or test results in the form of QR codes and then show them.

 

+++ Wednesday, 15.09.2021 +++

The number of people who have to be treated in hospital because of Covid-19 will become a central indicator for assessing the incidence of infection. In sensitive areas such as nursing homes, day-care centres and schools, employees may be asked about their vaccination status in future. After the Bundesrat gave its approval, the regulations have now come into force.
As the vaccination coverage of the population increases, the significance of the seven-day incidence of new infections changes. In future, therefore, the main indicator for deciding on protective measures that the Laender can take according to § 28a of the Infection Protection Act will above all be the hospitalisation incidence. The hospitalisation incidence reflects the number of Covid 19 patients admitted as inpatients for treatment in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants.
Other indicators for assessing the infection situation are: the seven-day incidence of new infections differentiated by age, the available intensive care treatment capacities and the number of persons vaccinated against Covid-19.

Information on vaccination status

The amended Infection Protection Act also requires employees in certain facilities to provide information on their vaccination or serostatus (recovery), namely facilities and companies where particularly vulnerable groups of people are cared for or accommodated, or where numerous people are exposed to a risk of infection due to spatial proximity. These are, for example, nursing homes, shelters for the homeless, but also schools and day-care centres. A corresponding regulation for hospitals and other medical facilities already exists.
This allows the facilities to organise their work in such a way that the risk of infection is kept as low as possible. This regulation does not imply an obligation to vaccinate.
The Bundestag had passed this amendment to the Infection Protection Act on Tuesday, 7 September 2021, as part of the legislation on reconstruction aid to deal with the consequences of the devastating July floods. On Friday, 10 September, the Bundesrat approved it.

+++

Even during the pandemic, children and young people need open schools and day-care centres and sports facilities in their free time. A working group of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Health points this out. How the youngest are to be better supported during and after the pandemic was reported on in the cabinet on Wednesday.
Children and young people are particularly affected by the impact of the Corona pandemic due to school and day-care closures as well as restricted leisure activities. At the same time, lack of social interaction with peers, excessive media consumption, lack of physical activity and other factors pose a risk to the healthy development of children and youth during the pandemic.
An interministerial working group of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Family Affairs, together with numerous experts, has therefore developed recommendations for action to avoid future burdens for children and adolescents as far as possible and to reduce existing ones. On Wednesday, this was reported to the Federal Cabinet.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said: "Children and young people have suffered particularly from the pandemic. We want to give them special support on their way back to normality and invest more in prevention and screening. This also includes more preventive check-ups to detect psychological and physical problems of adolescents at an early stage."
Federal Minister for Family Affairs Christine Lambrecht explained: "Unfortunately, the effects of the pandemic hit children and young people particularly hard, especially those who already had a hard time before. We have to take special care of them. It is especially important for these children that day-care centres, schools, sports facilities and youth centres are open and remain open. With our catch-up programme, we give children and young people the opportunity to leave the pandemic behind: with educational and recreational opportunities that now help them overcome loneliness, lack of exercise and learning gaps."
Among other things, the report describes these points
- The top priority is to avoid area-wide closures of education and care facilities, but without endangering the health of children and young people.
- Beyond school and day-care centres, children need sport and exercise and other leisure activities as a balance. Länder and municipalities should ensure that sport in particular - even under pandemic conditions, for example outdoors - continues to be possible.
- In addition, preventive health promotion offers should be made more accessible to children and adolescents. The aim is for the Länder and municipalities, together with the health insurance funds and other local providers, to promote the revival and expansion of offers for children and adolescents, with a focus on preventing and combating risks such as lack of exercise, malnutrition and also stress symptoms in children and adolescents.
- Children and adolescents who were already exposed to increased stress and particularly affected before the pandemic are to receive targeted support.
- In addition, a comprehensive range of tests for daycare centres and schools is to be maintained.

+++

15.09.2021

+++ Friday, 10.09.2021 +++

The permanent vaccination commission recommends a Corona vaccination for pregnant and breastfeeding women with two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Biontech, Moderna). This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute. Federal Health Minister Spahn welcomed the recommendation.
The Permanent Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends a Corona vaccination of pregnant women from the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and of non-vaccinated or incompletely vaccinated breastfeeding women with two doses of an mRNA vaccine such as Bionntech or Moderna. This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute on Friday.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn welcomed the vaccination recommendation: "Pregnant and breastfeeding women now also have a clear recommendation for vaccination. After many months with many unanswered questions, this finally means scientifically based certainty. My urgent request to all pregnant and breastfeeding women: Ask your doctor. Get vaccinated. You will protect yourself and your child."

Recommendation based on data on the risk of severe covid 19 courses

In addition, the STIKO recommends vaccination for everyone of childbearing age, so that there is already very good protection against Covid-19 before pregnancy. The STIKO recommendation is based on data on the risk of severe covid-19 courses in pregnancy and on the effectiveness and safety of vaccination in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The STIKO decision with the scientific justification will now be forwarded to the federal states and the professional groups involved. They will then have the opportunity to comment on it.

+++ Thursday, 09.09.2021 +++

The economy has recovered significantly, but some sectors are still experiencing Corona-related losses. The Federal Government is therefore extending the Bridging Assistance III Plus until 31 December 2021. The tried and tested funding conditions remain largely the same. The New Start-up Assistance Plus for solo self-employed persons will also be extended.
The Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Economics announced in a joint statement that the bridging assistance will be extended. Companies and solo self-employed persons affected by turnover losses can receive the Bridging Assistance III Plus decided on 9 June 2021 beyond 30 September until 31 December 2021.

Proven support continued

With more than 100 billion in aid disbursed, Bridging Assistance I, II, III and III Plus are a key aid instrument in the Corona pandemic. The Federal Government is continuing this assistance for those who still need it. The content of the bridging assistance III Plus, which has been extended until the end of the year, is largely identical to the bridging assistance III Plus for the months of July, August and September.
Companies with a Corona-related slump in turnover of at least 30 percent are also eligible to apply for the extended Bridging Assistance III Plus. Applications for the extended bridging assistance III Plus are also submitted by verifying third parties via the well-known platform ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de. However, application processing and payment are the responsibility of the Länder.

Restart premium ends, new start-up aid remains

The so-called Restart Premium, which was intended to facilitate the transition from lockdown to reopening within the framework of Bridging Assistance III Plus by means of a personnel cost subsidy, has fulfilled its purpose. It expires on schedule in September.
The equity capital subsidy, which is intended to strengthen the substance of companies that have been particularly badly and permanently affected, will also be available beyond September until December 2021. The new start-up aid plus for solo self-employed persons will also be extended. For the period from October to December, solo self-employed persons whose turnover is further restricted by Corona can receive additional support of up to 4,500 euros.

+++

"We must make every effort to convince even more citizens to be vaccinated," said Federal Health Minister Spahn at a press conference with the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Wieler. Together they promoted the Germany-wide campaign week #HierWirdGeimpft. Under the motto #HierWirdGeimpft, the federal government, the states, municipalities, associations and local actors will once again bundle their efforts in a joint vaccination week starting on 13 September. "Every association, every local initiative that has a doctor, a pharmacist, a vaccination centre with which they cooperate can set up such an action," says Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. The goal is to create easy opportunities to get vaccinated. Spahn emphasised that vaccination is a personal, free decision. And it should remain so. But it is a decision that also affects others: the family, colleagues at work and, in this pandemic, society. The vaccination week is about convincing many more to "go this way with us", said Spahn. "We have the means in our hands to vaccinate our way back to freedom and normality."

Every vaccination helps

Professor Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, warned of a "fulminant" fourth wave if vaccination rates did not rise dramatically. The risk of unvaccinated people having to go to hospital because of Covid-19 is currently ten times higher than for vaccinated people. "What really needs to be clear to all of us: Those who don't get vaccinated will be infected with SARS-CoV-2 for the foreseeable future," Wieler warned. Every vaccination helps to further contain the pandemic. Vaccination is the most powerful tool against covid-19. "It is our chance to end the pandemic." Currently, the number of Covid-19 patients requiring hospital treatment is on the rise. Intensive care bed occupancy by Covid-19 patients has almost doubled in the last two weeks. Currently, more than 1,300 people are being treated there again. Younger people in particular are affected. The majority of them have not been vaccinated.

+++

With the update to version 2.9, the Corona warning app closes possible gaps in the interruption of infection chains. Organisers can warn guests on behalf of the health department via the check-in function. For convalescents who have been vaccinated, full vaccination protection is now immediately displayed in the Corona Warning app. Update 2.9 allows organisers of an event to warn their guests on behalf of a person who later tested positive and was not checked in via the Corona Warning app. This closes potential gaps in breaking chains of infection. If, when following up infection chains, the health department discovers that a person who tested positive was at an event, they can contact the organiser. For events where the Corona warning app has been used, the health department can now enable the organiser to warn all his guests himself. To do this, it issues a TAN (numerical code), which is used to send a warning to everyone who was checked in for the event.

Full vaccination protection for convalescents and booster vaccinations

For convalescents who have been vaccinated, full vaccination protection will now be displayed in the Corona Warning app immediately after the first vaccination. Normally, vaccinated people do not have full protection until 14 days after the last required vaccination. However, this does not apply after recovery and therefore the Corona Warning app now also displays this. In addition, users who have received a booster vaccination can now transfer it to the Corona Warning app. Booster vaccinations are displayed in the same way as the other vaccination certificates with "vaccination n of m". Since version 2.5, there is a certificate wallet in the Corona Warning App. In the wallet, tested, vaccinated and recovered users can integrate digital vaccination certificates or test results in the form of QR codes and then show them.

 

 

08.09.2021

+++ Wednesday, 08 September 2021 +++

The number of people who have to be treated in hospital because of Covid-19 will become a central indicator for assessing the incidence of infection. In sensitive areas such as nursing homes or day-care centres and schools, employees may be asked about their vaccination status in future. This has been decided by the German Bundestag.

As the vaccination coverage of the population increases, the significance of the seven-day incidence of new infections changes. In future, therefore, the main indicator for deciding on protective measures that the Länder can take according to § 28a of the Infection Protection Act will be the hospitalisation incidence. The hospitalisation incidence reflects the number of Covid 19 patients admitted as inpatients for treatment in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants. Other indicators for assessing the infection situation are: the seven-day incidence of new infections differentiated by age, the available intensive care treatment capacities and the number of persons vaccinated against Covid-19.

Information on vaccination status

The amended Infection Protection Act also requires employees in certain facilities to provide information on their vaccination or serostatus (recovery), namely facilities and companies where particularly vulnerable groups of people are cared for or accommodated, or where numerous people are exposed to a risk of infection due to spatial proximity. These are, for example, nursing homes, shelters for the homeless, but also schools and day-care centres. A corresponding regulation for hospitals and other medical facilities already exists. This allows the facilities to organise their work in such a way that the risk of infection is kept as low as possible. This regulation does not imply an obligation to vaccinate.

+++ Tuesday, 07 September 2021 +++

The Federal Government wants to fund six projects for the development of drugs against Covid-19 with up to 150 million euros. "We are optimistic that at the end of the tests there will actually be effective drugs that can then be approved," said Federal Research Minister Karliczek.

"We will have to live with the virus," emphasised Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at a joint press conference with Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. "We are just inoculating ourselves back into freedom and normality," said Spahn. However, there will always be people who will fall ill with Covid-19.

Vaccination protects - medication helps with the disease

"The delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus clearly shows us that we will unfortunately have to reckon with people falling ill with Covid-19 again and again in the future," Karliczek emphasised and emphatically promoted vaccination. However, there are people who cannot or do not want to be vaccinated and there are those who become infected despite vaccination. Therefore, more effective medicines are needed to treat those who fall ill, she continued.

"We also want to take the horror out of the pandemic in the long term," Spahn said. "That's why we are promoting the development of new medicines so that we can continue to treat Corona patients well in the future. And we are investing in the future because we are also strengthening the German research and development location in the field of biotechnology."

However, Karliczek emphasised that there will not be a single drug for corona. Rather, a mix of effective preparations is necessary to help patients effectively, depending on the stage of their disease. Six small and medium-sized biotech companies will therefore receive funding for the development of their products.

Up to 150 million euros for the most promising projects

A 20-member expert commission headed by the President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Professor Dr Klaus Cichotek, had reviewed the submitted proposals and selected the most promising ones, he said. "We plan to support the projects of the coordinating companies AdrenoMed AG, Apogenix AG, Atriva Therapeutics GmbH, CORAT Therapeutics GmbH, InflaRX GmbH and DRK Baden-Württemberg-Hessen gGmbH with a total funding amount of up to 150 million euros," Karliczek announced.

Funding will be provided for projects that are already at an advanced stage of clinical development and should be funded until they are approved. Studies are planned with both moderately and severely to critically ill ventilated patients. Among other things, treatment with antibodies and blocking molecules will be investigated. According to Karliczek, some of the drugs have already been researched for diseases such as cancer or sepsis.

However, the Federal Research Minister warned against exaggerated expectations. When the new drugs will be available is still open, she said, and depends above all on their effectiveness in clinical trials. "Ideally, some of the projects are planning a conditional approval, which could possibly become valid as early as next year," Karliczek said.

On 14 May 2021, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Research had jointly published the announcement of a "Guideline to promote the clinical development of Covid-19 medicinal products close to the point of care and their manufacturing capacities". The aim of this guideline is to ensure that candidates for new drugs that have been successfully tested in clinical phases I and II reach patients in Germany as quickly as possible.

 

+++ Thursday, 26.08.2021 +++

The Bundestag has determined that the epidemic situation of national scope persists. This means that regulations can apply beyond 11 September that serve to protect public health and manage the pandemic-related effects on health and care. For example, regulations on vaccination or occupational health and safety.

The determination of the epidemic situation of national scope is also a prerequisite for the special measures that the federal states can enact on the basis of the Infection Protection Act to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The pandemic is not over yet

In Germany, the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing again. Since the beginning of July, the R-value has been above 1. Other important indicators for assessing the infection situation are also rising: the rate of positive PCR tests in relation to all PCR tests, the 7-day incidence, hospitalisations and the necessary treatments in intensive care units. Germany must prepare itself for the fact that the numbers will also continue to increase.

More and more people are vaccinated and thus well protected against COVID-19. Therefore, the number of those who need hospital treatment - unlike last winter - is only increasing moderately. It is now important that this remains the case. For the aim continues to be - as the motion in the German Bundestag states - "to reduce as far as possible the serious threat to public health throughout the Federal Republic of Germany by using appropriate and situation-specific protective measures to combat the spread of the pandemic in order to protect life and health and to prevent the health system from being overburdened".

Vaccinated people well protected

The Robert Koch Institute continues to assess the risk to the health of the unvaccinated or only once vaccinated population in Germany as high overall. For those who have been fully vaccinated, the risk is considered moderate.

The Bundestag decision of 25 August 2021 is the fifth extension. For the first time, the Bundestag had determined the epidemic situation of national importance on 25 March 2020, and the determination was extended on 18 November 2020, on 4 March 2021 and on 11 June.

The declaration of an epidemic situation of national importance is deemed to be revoked if the German Bundestag does not resolve its continuation no later than three months after its declaration. Pandemic-related ordinances, statutory orders and the compensation scheme for working parents are linked to the determination of this epidemic situation.

 

+++ Tuesday, 17.08.2021 +++

The Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) has decided to update its previous assessment and issue a general Covid 19 vaccination recommendation for 12- to 17-year-olds. It thus expands its previous vaccination recommendation, according to which only children and adolescents with pre-existing diseases and an associated increased risk of a severe course of Covid 19 disease should be vaccinated against Corona. The draft decision has now entered the mandatory commenting procedure.

The new recommendation is primarily aimed at the direct protection of vaccinated children and adolescents against Covid-19, the Stiko said in its statement. The delta variant, which dominates in Germany, poses a significantly higher risk of corona infection for them in a possible fourth wave of infection, it said.

"Parents and adolescents thus have a clear recommendation to opt for vaccination," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. "The facts speak for vaccination, sufficient vaccine is available for all age groups." If desired, vaccination could take place this week, he added.

Federal Family Minister Christine Lambrecht stressed, "The vaccination recommendation by the Stiko for all 12 to 17 year olds is a very important step in the fight against the Corona pandemic." Now there is a clear orientation for parents and children based on scientific evidence. "The recommendation makes the decision easier for parents and their children," Lampbrecht said.

Vaccination still subject to medical information

Vaccination should continue to be carried out after a doctor has explained the benefits and risks. The independent committee is also expressly against making vaccination a prerequisite for social participation for children and adolescents.

The federal states offer vaccinations for 12 to 17 year olds. Children and adolescents can be vaccinated in vaccination centres, by established paediatricians, adolescents' doctors and general practitioners and, as relatives of employees, also by company doctors.

The Stiko is independent and develops the best possible vaccination recommendations for the population in Germany exclusively on the basis of the available scientific evidence. It always takes into account the current national and international state of knowledge and continuously develops its Covid 19 vaccination recommendation accordingly.

+++

Since version 2.5, the Corona warning app has a certificate wallet in which tested, vaccinated and recovered users can integrate digital certificates in the form of QR codes and then present them. To ensure that only certificates issued by an authorised body are imported, the app now checks whether the corresponding certificates are genuine. This check is carried out automatically, both for certificates that are newly imported and for those that already exist in the app.

More overview by displaying the expiry dates of certificates

Another new feature is that users will in future be able to see the technical expiry date of their vaccination, test and convalescent certificates in the overview of their digital Covid certificates. For example, a technically expired certificate can no longer be used as valid proof for travel within the EU. However, it does not necessarily mean that the user no longer has sufficient vaccination protection. If a certificate in the wallet has expired, users only need new digital proof of their vaccination or recovery.

In future, the Corona warning app will inform users 28 days before the technical expiry of a certificate, both in the app and via a push message. As soon as a certificate has expired, it will notify users again. There is no notification for expired test certificates, as these - depending on the type of test - are only valid as proof for a few days anyway.

 

+++ Tuesday, 10.08.2021 +++

The federal government and the federal states have agreed on how to proceed in the Corona pandemic. The concrete implementation is up to the federal states, which can set their own rules.

TESTS: Free citizen tests financed by the federal government are to be discontinued as of 11 October. Reason: There is free vaccination. However, for pregnant women, children and adolescents under 18 and other people for whom there is no general vaccination recommendation, rapid antigen tests are to remain free of charge.

"3G RULE": For certain institutions and recreational facilities, the so called 3G rule is to apply from 23 August at the latest: Only vaccinated (Geimpfte), recovered (Genesene) or negatively tested (Getestete) persons will have access. This is to be the case in clinics, nursing homes, fitness studios, swimming pools, hairdressers, hotels and indoors, for example in restaurants or at events.

The test must not be older than 24 hours (antigen test) or 48 hours (PCR). Children up to the age of six and schoolchildren are exempt from the rule, as regular testing is to continue at schools anyway. And the "3G rule" can be suspended if the seven-day incidence in a county is "stable" below 35.

CORONA INDICATORS: In the Federal-Länder decision, the number of hospital admissions due to Covid-19 is described as an "important parameter for assessing the incidence of infection". In addition, it is emphasised that the Federation and the Länder "take into account all indicators, in particular the incidence, the vaccination rate, and the number of severe courses of disease as well as the resulting burden on the health care system" in order to adjust the Corona measures if necessary.

CALL FOR VACCINATION: The public is "urged" to take up "existing vaccination offers as soon as possible". Employers are called upon to support their employees in this, for example by offering vaccination through company doctors and giving them time off for vaccination appointments.

TRAVEL: Vaccinated and recovered persons still do not have to be quarantined after returning from a high-risk area. A high-risk area is defined as a region with a particularly high number of cases or where there are "indications of a dangerous infection", according to the Federal Ministry of Health.

MASKS: Medical protective masks (OP or FFP2) are to continue to be "mandatory" in public transport and when shopping. This is to be reviewed every four weeks. However, Saxony had already lifted the mask requirement for shopping when the incidence was low.

PARTY AND EVENTS: Restrictions, such as a limited number of participants for clubs and parties, are still possible, hygiene concepts have to be presented. In football stadiums and sporting events with more than 5000 spectators, a maximum of half of the seats in the venue or stadium are to be occupied. The maximum number of spectators is to be 25,000.

WORK: The Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance will be extended once again beyond 10 September. It requires companies to have hygiene plans and offer testing for workers.

EXTENSION OF CORONA AID: The economic aid (Bridging Aid III Plus) and the facilitation of access for the Short-Time Worker's Allowance, which have so far run until the end of September, are to be extended.

EPIDEMIC SITUATION: It is determined by the Bundestag and gives the federal government the right to directly issue regulations, for example on tests and vaccinations. Measures such as compulsory masks or contact restrictions, which the Länder can stipulate, also refer to the determination of this situation according to the Infection Protection Act. The federal government and the states formulate cautiously and in their resolution ask the Bundestag "to consider" extending the epidemic situation beyond 11 September. (dpa)

+++

By the end of the year, Germany wants to provide at least 30 million vaccine doses, especially for developing countries. In doing so, the Federal Republic is making an important contribution to the global fight against the pandemic. The first tranche is now being made available.

At the Global Health Summit in Rome on 21 May this year, Germany announced that it would provide at least 30 million vaccine doses, especially for developing countries, by the end of the year. Germany is distributing most of these doses through the international vaccine initiative COVAX.

Vaccines to be used immediately

The first tranche of Covid 19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson under supply contracts with the German government is now being delivered through COVAX. Afghanistan will receive 213,600 vaccine doses, Ethiopia 271,200, Sudan 357,600, Tajikistan 100,800 and Uzbekistan 355,200. These are countries that, according to the World Health Organisation and the global vaccine alliance Gavi, have a particularly high need and can also use the vaccine immediately in the vaccination campaigns. This enables the vaccine doses to be administered as quickly as possible to prevent further waves of infection.

Germany is thus making an important contribution to the global fight against the pandemic, which has now claimed more than four million lives. In particular, it can also prevent the emergence of new virus variants.

 

+++ Monday, 09 August 2021 +++

The French regions of Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Corsica and the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, Saint Martin and Saint-Barthélemy will be classified as high-risk areas as of 8 August 2021.

Other countries outside Europe are now also considered high-risk areas, including Morocco, Mexico and Thailand.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, with the exception of the overseas parts, will no longer be considered a high-risk area as of Sunday, 8 August.

Observe new entry regulations

People entering Germany from a high-risk area must fill out a digital entry form. Returnees who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered must also enter quarantine in Germany. This can be ended after five days at the earliest by a current negative coronary test.

This list shows which states or regions are currently classified as virus variant or high-risk areas.

 

+++ Friday, 06.08.2021 +++

The Corona pandemic has devastating consequences for the cultural and creative industries. For artists, their very existence is at stake. In addition to the BKM's rescue and future package NEUSTART KULTUR, the Federal Government is helping with economic support amounting to billions of euros and other subsidies from which cultural workers also benefit.

Here you will find further information and links to assistance offers that are also aimed at artists, creative professionals and the cultural industry:

Hardship assistance

In special individual cases, hardship assistance supports companies and self-employed individuals who have fallen on hard times as a result of the Corona pandemic. They are aimed specifically at companies and self-employed individuals for whom the existing Corona assistance provided by the federal government, the Länder and the municipalities (such as the bridging assistance, the November assistance and the December assistance) is not effective. Hardship assistance is regulated by the Länder. The respective federal state examines the individual case and decides at its own discretion who will receive hardship assistance. Further information on how to apply can be found on the hardship assistance website.

Short-time allowance

Since March 2020, the conditions for short-time work have been eased in such a way that all companies and employees affected by the Corona crisis receive fast and effective support. For more information, see the Information for workers page.

Simplified access to basic income support

For cultural and media workers who have lost their income or economic livelihood due to the current crisis, access to basic income support benefits will be simplified. The regulations are valid until 31 March 2021. You can find more information on the website of the Federal Employment Agency. From Monday to Friday, you can also contact the service hotline for the self-employed at 0800 4555521 (free of charge) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Liquidity assistance

The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) is helping businesses to cope with the consequences of the Corona pandemic by facilitating the short-term provision of liquidity. These offers of assistance are also available to companies, self-employed persons and freelancers in the cultural and creative industries. For more information, see the section on loans from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau for businesses.

What fiscal aid is available?

In order to support those affected by the crisis, various tax relief measures are available. These include, for example, liquidity assistance, deferral of tax payments, adjustment and refund of advance payments as well as the suspension of enforcement measures. Further information can be found here.

What changes in insolvency law?

The obligation to file for insolvency for affected companies has initially been suspended until 31 December 2020. Further information on the changes to the law can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Justice

What applies to commercial leases?

With an amendment to the law on 31 December 2020, the negotiating position of commercial tenants was strengthened and at the same time an appeal was made to the parties' willingness to negotiate. This explicitly also applies to the rent of cultural institutions. The amendment clarifies that the regulations on the disturbance of the basis of the contract (§ 313 BGB) are in principle applicable in the special situation of the COVID 19 pandemic. The extent to which an adjustment of the rent, for example, can be considered still depends on the individual case. Further information is available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Information from the Federal Ministry of Justice on protection for tenants can be found here.

What applies to artists' social insurance?

Many cultural workers have lost income from their artistic work in the Corona pandemic. Until the end of 2021, they can earn up to an additional 1,300 euros per month from non-artistic self-employed activities through the "Corona Special Regulation". The regulation has been in effect since 23 July and ensures that existing insurance coverage under the artists' social insurance scheme is not lost as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Further information can be found here.

Where can I find information on assistance offered by the federal states?

Baden-Württemberg
Bayern
Berlin
Brandenburg
Bremen
Hamburg
Hessen
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Niedersachsen
Nordrhein-Westfalen
Rheinland-Pfalz
Saarland
Sachsen
Sachsen-Anhalt
Schleswig-Holstein
Thüringen

What support measures are available at European level?

On the website of the EU Commission you can find information in English about support measures for the cultural and creative sector at EU level. There, the EU Commission also provides information on the impact of Corona on the funding programme "Creative Europe".

 

+++ Tuesday, 03.08.2021 +++

In future, the federal states will offer vaccinations for 12 to 17-year-olds. This was decided by the Health Ministers of the Länder together with Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. Children and adolescents can thus be vaccinated in vaccination centres, by general practitioners for children, adolescents and family doctors and also as part of the vaccination of employees' relatives by company doctors. Appropriate medical information is required, as well as the consent of the parents or guardians, if necessary.

We have enough vaccine for childrens and adolescents

"We keep our promise: Everyone who wants to can be vaccinated in the summer. We have enough vaccine for all age groups.  Even 12- to 17-year-old children and adolescents who decide to be vaccinated after being informed by a doctor can protect themselves and others with a vaccination," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.

For the Covid-19 vaccination of children and adolescents aged 12 years and older, the vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna have so far been approved by the European Commission.

With regard to the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination of children and adolescents aged 12 years and older with pre-existing conditions that indicate an increased risk of a severe course of COVID-19 disease, as well as for children and adolescents who have relatives or other contacts who are at high risk of a severe course of COVID-19, who cannot be vaccinated themselves, or who have a reasonable suspicion of insufficient protection after vaccination. Nevertheless, all children aged 12 years and older can be vaccinated after medical education if it is the explicit wish of the children or parents.

Booster vaccination protects vulnerable groups

In addition, the Conference of Health Ministers has decided that from September 2021, a booster vaccination will be offered in nursing homes, institutions for integration assistance and other institutions with vulnerable groups, usually at least six months after completion of the first vaccination series.

Patients with immunodeficiency or immunosuppression as well as those in need of care and the very elderly in their own homes should be offered a booster vaccination by their attending physicians. Study data to date show that these groups in particular benefit from a booster vaccination.

"With the option of a booster vaccination in September, we want to provide the best possible protection for the groups particularly at risk in autumn and winter. Because for them, the risk of a decline in vaccination protection is the greatest," said Federal Health Minister Spahn.  

 

+++ Saturday, 31.02.2021+++

Worldwide, the infection situation remains very dynamic. In view of the heavy travel traffic, the Federal Cabinet has therefore decided to extend the testing obligation for people entering Germany. The new regulations will apply from 1 August.

Anyone returning from a holiday abroad from Sunday, 1 August, must be able to show a negative Corona test. Those who have been fully vaccinated, those who have recovered and children under 12 are exempt.

"All unvaccinated people entering Germany will have to be tested in future - regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. "In this way we reduce the risk of additional infections being brought in."

Special rules continue to apply for entries from a virus variant area: Here, all entrants - including vaccinated and recovered persons - must be able to present a current negative test result.

The new corona-regulations at a glance:

- Soon, only two types of risk areas - high-risk and virus variant areas - will be designated. Regulations that previously existed for simple risk areas will no longer apply.

- In addition, the age limit from which proof of a test must be provided will be changed. In future, only those who are 12 years and older must have proof of testing, recovery or vaccination.

- Relief for under-12s also in quarantine regulations: They can end quarantine without testing after five days when entering from a high-risk area. Those who have not been vaccinated or have recovered and are older than 12 can do so, as before, only if a negative test result is presented.

- The quarantine obligations for all persons entering the country from virus-variant areas, which usually last 14 days, remain in place.

More information on the current entry rules can be found here.

 

+++ Thursday, 29.07.2021 +++

The quarantine rules after entering Germany from a virus variant area will have two exceptions from Wednesday.

People entering Germany from a new virus variant area can now end their mandatory 14-day quarantine early with a negative Corona test, provided the region they are coming from is downgraded to a risk area or a high incidence area during the quarantine period. Early free testing is otherwise not possible for people entering Germany.

Those who have full vaccination protection can then end their quarantine by sending the vaccination certificate if the Robert Koch Institute determines and publishes on its website that this vaccine is sufficiently effective against the virus variant that led to the area being classified as a virus variant area.

For more information on which country or region is currently a risk area, high incidence area or virus variant area, please contact the Robert Koch Institute.

  • Virus variant areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to the widespread occurrence of certain SARS Co-V-2 virus variants.
  • High incidence areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to particularly high incidences for the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Risk areas are areas with an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

+++

Improvements for travelling at home and abroad: The current update of the Corona Warning app makes it possible to check before a trip whether the certificates stored in the app regarding test or vaccination status are valid in a selected country at the time of the trip. For this purpose, the Corona Warning app takes into account the applicable entry regulations of the selected destination country.

With the release of version 2.5 of the Corona-Warn app at the beginning of July, the certificate section of the app was expanded into a so-called wallet. This allows tested, vaccinated and recovered users to hold their certificates digitally.

Every European country that supports EU digital Cocid certificates has the option of uploading rules that the Corona Warning app can match for verification. At the start of the new function, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Lithuania have deposited rules. Other countries will follow in the coming weeks.

More information at home

With version 2.6, users can also view the local 7-day incidences for up to five counties or districts of their choice in the statistics section of their app. The Corona warning app displays the local 7-day incidences exclusively on the basis of the user's own selection. It does not work with GPS positioning. The data is also only stored on the user's own smartphone.

In the test management of the app, from version 2.6 onwards, users also have the option of finding a test site in their vicinity that is connected to the infrastructure of the Corona warning app. Via the tile "You are being tested?" on the start page of the app, users can manage all important functions related to their tests.

As of Tuesday, 27 July, the Netherlands and Spain are considered Corona high incidence areas - including the Balearic Islands such as Mallorca and Ibiza as well as the Canary Islands. This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Friday. The German Foreign Office will also issue a warning against non-essential tourist travel to the Netherlands and Spain with effect from 0:00 on Tuesday.

In principle, all persons entering Germany from a high-incidence area must immediately go into quarantine at their own expense for a period of at least ten days. Those who have recovered or have been fully vaccinated must present proof of this to the competent authority. Then there is no need for quarantine. For all others, the quarantine can be ended prematurely after the fifth day at the earliest by a negative test.

Denmark (with the exception of Greenland) as well as the French regions of Corsica, Occitania, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and the overseas department of Martinique are already considered simple risk areas with effect from 0:00 on Sunday, 25 July. This also applies to Ireland, Malta and Monaco.

Detailed information for travellers can be found in our overview of the most important questions and answers and in the travel and safety advice of the Federal Foreign Office. A list of international risk areas can be found at the Robert Koch Institute.

Virus variant areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to the widespread occurrence of certain SARS Co-V-2 virus variants. High incidence areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to particularly high incidences of the spread of the coronavirus. Risk areas are areas with an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

 

+++ Thursday, 22.07.2021 +++

In Germany, the incidence is still low compared to other countries. In order to keep it that way, it is necessary to continue necessary and proven protective measures against the further spread of the coronavirus. The Federal Cabinet has therefore decided to extend the regulation on entry quarantine up to and including 10 September 2021 and to adjust its content.

What changes from July 28th?

- If a virus variant area is classified as a high-incidence area after entry and during the 14-day isolation period, the regulations for high-incidence areas apply. This means: the possibility of free testing from the fifth day or no quarantine for vaccinated and recovered persons. In addition, the entry quarantine will end in future if the affected area is completely eradicated during the isolation period.

- In the case of entry from virus variant areas, the quarantine will not apply in future if the person entering has been vaccinated with a vaccine that is sufficiently effective against the virus variant on the basis of which the classification as a virus variant area was made.

Almost all countries in the world are still affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. Travel and border traffic can contribute to the faster spread of the corona virus in Germany and to the emergence of new centres of infection. The aim of the Corona Virus Entry Ordinance is to prevent this.

Since mid-May, the ordinance has brought together the various elements on the topic of entry in a uniform and comprehensive manner throughout Germany. It regulates the registration, testing and verification obligations as well as the quarantine regulations after entry.

 

+++ Thursday, 15.07.2021 +++

The Federal Government supports the purchase of mobile air purifiers in order to ensure the presence of air purifiers in schools and day-care centres as far as possible. "Today, we made an important decision for schools and day-care centres in the Cabinet. We are making money available to the Länder to support them financially in the procurement of mobile room air purifiers," emphasised Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier.

Protecting the health of children and young people

The Federal Government is providing a total of 200 million euros for the purchase of mobile air purification devices. The devices are to help reduce the risk of infection as much as possible and protect the health of school and day-care children. The federal government's share of the funding is up to 50 percent. The application for the funds and the implementation are carried out by the Länder.

Since last autumn, the federal government has been funding the upgrading of stationary air filter systems in public institutions such as universities, day-care centres and schools. The federal government now also bears up to 80 per cent of the costs for new installations. By the start of the new school year, however, it will not be possible - despite intensive efforts - to install stationary ventilation systems across the board. Therefore, mobile air filters will be used.

Support for day-care centres and primary schools

The support for mobile air filters applies to rooms with limited ventilation possibilities in facilities for children under twelve, i.e. primarily in kindergartens and primary schools. Background: Children under twelve cannot be offered vaccinations until further notice. At the same time, there is a risk of increased infection if classrooms or group rooms cannot be ventilated or cannot be ventilated sufficiently.

 

+++ Wednesday, 14 July 2021 +++

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin on Tuesday. At a concluding press conference, the Chancellor thanked the staff of the RKI for their efforts in the Corona pandemic. At the same time, Merkel appealed to the public's willingness to be vaccinated: "A vaccination not only protects you, but always also someone close to you. The more who are vaccinated, the freer we can live again."  

 

+++ Tuesday, 13.07.2021 +++

Users of the Corona warning app were already able to officially prove their negative PCR and rapid test results and their vaccination status. With the new version 2.5, the recovery status is now also added to the app. The new vaccination certificate for convalescents who only receive one vaccination is also displayed in the app.

The expansion of the certificate area of the app into a so-called wallet makes it possible to display different certificate types. Thus, tested, vaccinated and recovered users can keep their certificates digitally.

Relief when travelling

Not every family has a smartphone. With the new certificate wallet, users can also store the certificates of other people in the household, such as children or partners. All existing certificates are grouped by person and can be easily retrieved. This should be a relief, especially when travelling during the summer holidays.

Within the EU as well as in Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, the digital certificates are valid as official proof, e.g. for travel or restaurant visits. The validity of a certificate must be verified by the relevant office (e.g. at the airport) by checking the QR code in conjunction with the ID card.

 

+++ Monday, 12.07.2021 +++

Since Sunday, 11 July 2021, the whole of Spain has been considered a Corona risk area - including the Balearic Islands such as Mallorca and Ibiza as well as the Canary Islands. This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Friday. The German Foreign Office also advises against non-essential tourist travel to the whole of Spain with effect from Sunday. The Mid-West and Midland regions in Ireland are now also designated as risk areas.

As a matter of principle, travellers coming to Germany from these areas must immediately go into quarantine at their own expense for a period of at least ten days. Anyone who has recovered, been fully vaccinated or tested negative must present proof of this to the competent authority. Then there is no need for quarantine. This regulation applies to everyone who has reached the age of six.

Also since Sunday, 11 July, Cyprus has been designated as a high incidence area. Additional rules apply here. Detailed information for travellers can be found in our overview of the most important questions and answers and in the travel and security advice of the Federal Foreign Office. Also at the Federal Foreign Office, information is provided on the adjustment of travel warnings since 1 July 2021 for risk areas.

Virus variant areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to the widespread occurrence of certain SARS Co-V-2 virus variants. High incidence areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to particularly high incidences for the spread of the coronavirus. Risk areas are areas with an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

 

+++ Monday, 05.07.2021 +++

The second dose of the so-called cross-vaccination can then be vaccinated after at least four weeks, according to the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko). The immune response after administering two different preparations is "clearly superior" to the immune response after two doses of Astrazeneca. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn emphasised that the protection after two vaccinations with Astrazeneca was also very good. However, the combination is particularly effective. There is enough vaccine available to implement this recommendation quickly, he said after consultations with the health ministers of the Länder.

Double vaccination protects

A complete vaccination, i.e. twice, is the best protection against infection with the virus variant. According to the Stiko, protection seems to be significantly lower after only one vaccine dose. Therefore, the commission points out that it is important to take the second vaccine dose. "Double vaccination protects against delta," Spahn also said. The minister once again promoted getting vaccinated: "The more vaccinations in summer, the better we get through autumn." The delta variant is spreading in Europe and in Germany. The RKI assumes that already this week at least every second Corona case is due to Delta.

 

+++ Friday, 02.07.2021 +++

An entry regulation is in force in Germany: the aim is to avoid additional entry of infections from other countries. The regulation divides all countries where the coronavirus circulates into three categories: simple risk areas, high incidence areas and virus variant areas. For the respective areas, different regulations apply for entry into Germany, such as testing obligations or quarantine regulations.

Travel Germany - but safely

Spahn explained that the full vaccination protects against the delta variant and appealed once again: "Please get vaccinated! Or please get tested regularly and ideally - the free offer is there as a citizen test - once or twice a week." You can do that even if you don't come from risk areas, he said. In this way, everyone can contribute to a safe start after the holiday season - at school, at work, in everyday life.

Whoever enters the country must expect to be checked

Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer explained that it is crucial that the rules are observed in practice. Anyone entering Germany from one of the risk areas must fill out a digital entry registration form. This allows the health offices to see who has entered their area of responsibility on a daily basis. They monitor compliance with the quarantine obligation.

The Federal Police are responsible for monitoring entry, they check the proof of testing and also the proof of recovery and vaccinations, depending on the country of origin. At the airports, every person entering the country is checked. On the land route, random checks are carried out. Germany will strengthen the so-called Schleierfahndung behind the border with regard to the pandemic, Seehofer explained. "In summary, I would like to say for the point of control that the message is clear: Whoever enters must expect to be controlled."

Travel Germany and Covid

The federal government monitors the development of the global infection incidence and adjusts the categorisation. The Robert Koch Institute publishes the updated data weekly.

An overview of the categories and the corresponding regulations of the entry regulation can be found here.

Since 1 July, a travel warning for non-essential, tourist travel has been in effect for countries categorised by the Federal Government as high incidence areas or as virus variant areas. For countries classified as a simple risk area, the Federal Foreign Office advises against non-essential, tourist travel.

 

+++ Monday, 28.06.2021 +++

With version 2.4, users of the Corona Warning app can now have their negative test result confirmed by an official, digital COVID test certificate in the form of a QR code in the Corona Warning app. This test certificate contains the data about the respective Corona test. Within the EU as well as in Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, it can serve as officially valid proof of a negative test result, which can be used, for example, for travelling or visiting a restaurant. The validity of the certificate must be verified at the appropriate point (for example, in a restaurant or at the airport) by scanning the QR code with the CovPass Check app and checking the ID card. How long the certificate is recognised as proof depends on the regulations of the respective federal state or municipality. With the update, the test result is also automatically added to the contact diary as soon as it is available. Rapid tests are entered under the date they were performed, PCR tests on the date they were registered in the Corona Alert app.

Certificates for rapid tests and PCR tests

The corresponding certificate can be saved for both PCR and rapid tests, provided it has been requested in advance and the respective rapid test centre supports the creation of a certificate. To create the test certificate, the data is encrypted end-to-end and transmitted from the laboratory or rapid test centre to the Corona-Warn app. For this purpose, the encrypted data is transmitted to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to be digitally signed and thus confirm the validity of the certificate. The data cannot be decrypted by the RKI and is deleted after delivery of the certificate. Test certificates are stored in the app for an unlimited period of time. However, users can delete them manually.

Find connected rapid test centres via online portal

Not all rapid test centres support the digital test certificate. However, it is now possible to find test providers that support the transmission of rapid test results to the Corona Warn app via an online portal.

 

+++ Friday, 25.06.2021 +++

"We can enjoy the summer, but with caution," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at the press conference on the current Corona situation. In the meantime, the summer holidays have begun in the first federal states. Therefore, Spahn emphasised: Travelling is possible, however, hygiene measures should still be observed and the free test offers should be used. The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, appealed at the joint press conference with the Health Minister to refrain from unnecessary travel. "Mobility is a driver of the pandemic," Wieler warned. He advised: Those who travel nevertheless should inform themselves in advance about the infection situation at the travel destination and adhere to hygiene measures on site.

Delta continues to gain ground

The delta variant will gain the upper hand in summer, the minister warned. A high vaccination rate and a low incidence are necessary to contain the spread. Spahn urged people to take advantage of the second vaccination. The RKI president added that delta is more contagious and spreads faster. "We know that fully vaccinated people are protected against severe illnesses from delta." Therefore, he said, it is very important to get the full vaccination protection.

Vaccination or infection

According to the Federal Minister of Health, 44 million people in Germany have received a first vaccination, and 28.3 million have already received a second. This means that 63 percent of all adults and 300,000 of the 12- to 18-year-olds have received a first vaccination. Germany expects to have enough vaccine in the next few weeks to offer all adults willing to be vaccinated a first vaccination by the end of July and all 12- to 18-year-olds a first vaccination by the end of August. "Take advantage of the opportunities, get vaccinated," the minister touted. "Vaccination is the best remedy." Those who are not vaccinated will inevitably become infected sooner or later, he said. Vaccination or infection, that is the choice for each individual.

Adhere to hygiene measures despite vaccination

But vaccination alone does not help, Wieler warns. It is also important to continue to observe all known hygiene measures, such as reducing contact, wearing protective masks, ventilation and testing. These measures help to contain the spread of the disease and safeguard what has been achieved.

 

+++ Friday, 18.06.2021 +++

According to Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, more than one in two people in Germany has been vaccinated at least once, exactly 50.1 percent. That is 41.5 million people. 29.6 percent have full vaccination protection. That is almost every third person. The vaccination campaign is making great strides, said Spahn in a joint press conference with the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler.

Low-threshold and effective vaccination offers

The Minister explained that within a few weeks it would be possible to offer vaccination to all adults willing to be vaccinated, should "nothing unexpected happen". Then it would be a matter of convincing "all those who may still be in doubt, who are hesitating, who are still thinking" and reaching them.

Vaccination at the workplace is low-threshold and effective. It lowers the hurdles to getting vaccinated. In this way, even doubters are convinced, said Spahn, referring to the successful start of the vaccination campaign by company doctors.

Second vaccination is important

Spahn and Wieler warned against the spread of the more contagious delta virus variant. In order not to fall ill, a complete vaccination is necessary. It is therefore important to have the second vaccination. So far, this variant has not played a major role in Germany, says Wieler. At present, its share is six per cent. But a look at the United Kingdom shows how quickly it can become the dominant variant.

In addition to vaccination, the basic measures of infection protection should therefore continue to be adhered to, Wieler warned: the well-known hygiene and distance rules and contact reduction - even where incidences are low. "We must not give the virus a chance to spread again," said the RKI President.

Outdoors, masks could be dispensed with as long as minimum distances were observed. Indoors or even on public transport, they should continue to be worn, Spahn added. Testing also remains an important component - especially during travel times. On Wednesday, the federal government had decided to keep the testing obligation for holiday returnees. For the coming week, the minister announced a new testing regulation.

 

+++ Thursday, 17.06.2021 +++

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and the health ministers of the federal states discussed current developments in the Corona pandemic at a virtual conference of health ministers (GMK) on Wednesday. The digital exchange focused on the health of children and young people in the context of the Corona pandemic and the long-term effects of a Corona disease, Long Covid.

Supporting children and young people

"For a child who is six years old, more than one-sixth of life is now pandemic time. This is something that shapes - that shapes us all," said Health Minister Spahn at the post-conference press conference he gave together with the chair of the GMK, Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, and Saxony-Anhalt's connected Health Minister Petra Grimm-Benne. In the video link, questions were discussed on how a certain ease for children and young people could be realised again in the short term - and how any psychological and physical consequential damage could be treated in the medium and long term. It is now necessary to see how the problems caused by the pandemic in the 1920s can be solved in the interest of the children and young people. "This pandemic has already taken away enough opportunities, enough possibilities, it should not be able to take them away for children and young people in the longer term. We have to provide the best possible support for this," said Spahn.

Treating long-term effects

Another focus of the conference was Long Covid, the long-term consequences of corona disease. According to the Federal Minister of Health, it is now clear that quite a few Covid19 patients also have long-term health consequences. For some, the situation improves after a few months; for many, there is a threat of lifelong impairment. Therefore, it is important to deal with this issue: Rehabilitation, which aims to make it possible to return to normal everyday life, is just as much a part of it as research for treatments and therapies, and also cooperation with the pension insurance - in fact, many different areas. At the federal government level, an interministerial working group has already been set up for this purpose, in which various federal ministries are involved. At the virtual conference of health ministers, they have now agreed to work closely together on these issues - with the aim of developing a joint action plan that contains various measures for Long Covid, also beyond the acute pandemic.

Being able to ramp up again at any time

In addition to these two fundamental topics, current issues were also on the agenda. On the keyword vaccination centres, Spahn emphasised that these, along with doctors' surgeries and company doctors, had also been the backbone of the vaccination campaign from the beginning - now it was a matter of finding the right balance. "We want to be prepared for whatever may come," said Spahn. At the same time, he and his state colleagues wanted to avoid a very large infrastructure with corresponding employment contracts potentially being there unused for many weeks or months. "And I think it is wise that we have agreed that the Federation and the Länder - also the Länder with each other - look at how you can create such a concept, a standby concept, for the vaccination centres. That you have a minimum operation and at the same time you can also start up again if necessary. In this case, the federal government would be prepared to provide further financial support.

Summer travel with forethought

Finally, Jens Spahn used the good weather and the upcoming travels as an opportunity to point out the current travel regulations. At the GMK, he also talked about arrivals and summer travel. Caution and prudence are still called for. "The measures on entry are always limited in time, currently until July," he said. It had now been agreed in the GMK that the travel regulations would continue to apply until at least mid-September, until the return traffic from the summer holidays had taken place. "This is a very important decision," said Spahn. He added that the intention was to continue to promote the idea that people returning from travel should continue to be tested. He said the situation was different from a year ago, when there had been too few tests in some cases. Spahn emphasised that the common understanding that the entry regulations will be extended at least until the end of the travel period despite low incidence is very important to him.

 

+++ Monday, 14.06.2021 +++

The Corona pandemic is not over yet. Despite steadily declining incidences, regulations on, for example, vaccination, testing and entry will continue to be needed in the coming months. The Bundestag has therefore decided that the epidemic situation of national significance is forstbesteht and thus ensures that necessary regulations could continue to apply.

Even if the infection figures are steadily falling and fewer and fewer people have to be treated in hospitals for contracting Covid-19: The pandemic is not over. As late as 20 May 2021, WHO Regional Director for Europe Kluge made it clear that the progress currently achieved was fragile.

Danger from mutations

Caution is also called for in view of newly emerging virus variants. Germany experienced how quickly numbers can rise exponentially and a new virus variant can displace an old one in the winter with alpha variant B 1.1.7. And can currently be seen in the UK with the spread of the delta variant first detected in India. The Bundestag has therefore determined that the epidemic situation of national significance persists.

Regulations for coping with the pandemic can continue to apply

This means that regulations that serve to protect public health and to manage the pandemic-related effects on health care and nursing will continue to apply beyond 30 June. Specifically, this concerns: pandemic-relevant regulations such as the Coronavirus Testing Regulation, the Coronavirus Vaccination Regulation and the Corona Entry Regulation. The determination of the epidemic situation of national scope is also a prerequisite for the special measures that the federal states can enact on the basis of the Infection Protection Act to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Bundestag resolution of 11 June 2021 is the fourth extension. For the first time, the Bundestag had determined the epidemic situation of national scope on 25 March 2020, and the determination was extended on 18 November 2020 as well as on 4 March 2021.

The determination of an epidemic situation of national scope is deemed to be rescinded unless the German Bundestag resolves its continuation no later than three months after its determination. Pandemic-related ordinances, statutory orders and the compensation scheme for working parents are linked to the determination of this epidemic situation.

 

+++ Friday, 11.06.2021 +++

The ever-decreasing number of new infections is an encouraging development, according to Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. "The trend is continuing: infection figures are falling, intensive care units are emptying and the number of vaccinations continues to rise," he said. In the meantime, he said, more relaxation and more normality are also possible.

Safeguarding what has been achieved

The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, also called the development gratifying. No district has an incidence rate above 100, only twelve districts have an incidence rate above 50. Nevertheless, he emphasised: "Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet. The number of cases is still significantly higher than last year. Spahn said that it is now important to safeguard what has been achieved. The lower the incidence, "the longer we will benefit from this success and the less we give mutations a chance to spread."

Digital vaccination certificate launched

As of 10 June, 47 per cent of Germans have been vaccinated at least once. "If we assume a vaccination readiness of 75 per cent, then three out of four vaccine-ready adults, as of today, have been vaccinated at least once," said Spahn. To prove vaccination status, a vaccination is entered in the yellow WHO passport. Vaccinated adults can now also submit their proof via app and no longer need the yellow booklet. The digital vaccination card can be used directly in the Corona Warning app or with the new CovPass app.

Step by step

The required QR code for the digital vaccination certificate may only be issued by authorised persons in vaccination centres, doctors' practices and hospitals and pharmacies. Starting immediately, the federal states will begin sending QR codes by post to those who have already been fully vaccinated. "Step by step, vaccination centres, doctors' surgeries as well as pharmacies will now connect to the system in order to be able to issue European interoperable vaccination certificates," Spahn explained. Then citizens will be able to go to pharmacies and doctors' offices with their yellow vaccination certificate and have the barcode generated subsequently. However, this also means that not everyone will be able to store their vaccination information on their mobile phone immediately. "Within the next few weeks, everyone will be able to do so," he said. By the end of June, the CovPass should be available to everyone in Germany. Spahn continued: "The goal is that this vaccination certificate can also be read in Helsinki, Amsterdam or on Mallorca. In this way, we as the EU are setting a standard that does not yet exist anywhere in the world. 

 

+++ Thursday, 10.06.2021 +++

Some businesses have no or less income due to Corona-related closures or restrictions. The Federal Government is therefore extending the bridging aid for affected businesses and solo self-employed persons until 30 September 2021 as Bridging Aid III Plus. "Fortunately, the economic engine is running again, but currently not for everyone. That is why we are giving those who still need support a clear signal of security and planning certainty," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. A new restart premium is intended as an incentive for a new start. Companies that bring employees back from short-time work earlier or hire new ones will receive a subsidy towards personnel costs. Restart assistance for solo self-employed workers also increases to up to 12,000 euros for the first three quarters of the year. Also in Bridging Aid III Plus, only enterprises with a Corona-related drop in turnover of at least 30 percent are eligible to apply. Applications can be submitted shortly via the well-known platform ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de. Application processing and payment are the responsibility of the federal states.

Don't give up short of the goal

"Germany has weathered the pandemic economically better than many others because the Federal Government has been resolute in providing assistance. And this support will not be stopped short of the goal, that would be economic nonsense. Instead, we are extending the bridging aid," emphasised Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. The Federal Government is also increasing the upper limit for support under Bridging Assistance III and Bridging Assistance III Plus. In future, companies that are directly or indirectly affected by government closure measures can apply for up to 52 million euros in non-repayable grants to compensate for losses.

+++

Some of the solo self-employed have not been able to take advantage of assistance measures for a long time. The reason is that they are not self-employed in their main occupation, but are engaged in project-related activities. Because their employment periods are too short, they are also not entitled to unemployment benefits and short-time allowances. Many non-permanent actors and actresses as well as other short-term employees in the performing arts are affected. With the New Start Aid, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters, together with Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier and Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz, introduced an additional module for the cultural sector as part of the Bridging Aid III. On 9 June, the extension and increase of the Bridging Aid III was announced. The new start-up aid for solo self-employed, unemployed and short-term employees in the performing arts was also increased to up to 12,000 euros and the funding period was extended until September 2021.

Offer for some of the hardest hit

Bridging Aid III is one of three important protective umbrellas for culture. Further assistance is offered by the NEUSTART KULTUR rescue programme, for which two billion euros are available. The federal government's special fund for cultural events covers economic risks for event organisers. Due to the pandemic-related restrictions, stage operations had come to a complete standstill since March 2020. Film production had also declined sharply due to the Corona crisis. This resulted in serious losses of income, especially for many performing artists.

 

+++ Monday, 07.06.2021 +++

From Monday, 7 June, in Germany Corona vaccination will be available to anyone who wants it and who ist living in Germany - in doctors' surgeries, at company doctors' offices and in vaccination centres. Nevertheless, patience is needed when making vaccination appointments: it will still take time before everyone who wants to receive a vaccination does. However, for people who already have a vaccination appointment due to the previous prioritisation rules, the entitlement to vaccination remains unchanged. Even though this removes prioritisation, it is still possible for countries to maintain it in vaccination centres or to offer vaccination to certain groups, for example children and adolescents.

Also new: As of 7 June, vaccinations against the coronavirus can now also be given in companies and by private doctors in private practice. Company doctors will receive 700,000 doses of the Biontech vaccine in the first week, according to Federal Health Minister Spahn.

+++

With effect from 0am on Sunday 6 June 2021, Italy will no longer be classified as a Corona risk area. This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Friday. The Czech Republic, Austria - with the exception of the federal states of Tyrol and Vorarlberg - as well as eight Swiss cantons, some holiday regions in Croatia and the French island of Corsica will also no longer be considered risk areas.

Travellers arriving in Germany by land from these areas will no longer have to observe entry restrictions. At the same time, further countries will be downgraded from high incidence areas to simple risk areas. This applies to Turkey, Sweden and Lithuania.

Uruguay is now considered a virus variant area

Also with effect from Sunday, 6 June, Uruguay will be newly designated as a virus variant area. This means that all travellers from the South American country - including those who have recovered or been vaccinated - must observe a 14-day quarantine. Due to the particular danger of the virus variants, there is no "free testing" option. The RKI also identifies the United Kingdom, including the Isle of Man and all Channel Islands, as well as eleven other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America as virus variant areas.

A list of international risk areas can be found at the Robert Koch Institute. Information for travellers can be found here in an overview of the most important questions and answers and on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

 

+++ Friday, 04.06.2021 +++

In the "Summer of Vocational Training", the partners of the "Alliance for Initial and Continuing Vocational Training" want to promote dual training among young people and companies - under the hashtag #AusbildungSTARTEN. The Federal Government is also a partner in this alliance. The aim is for as many young people as possible to be able to start their vocational training in a company in 2021. Because the Corona crisis must not become a training or skilled labour crisis.

From June to October 2021, thematic action days and a wide range of events will take place at federal, state and regional level to achieve this. In this way, the partners of the Alliance want to strengthen confidence in dual vocational education and training and win over young people and companies for training in the coming training year.

In the Alliance for Initial and Continuing Training, the Federal Government, the Länder, the Federal Employment Agency, business and industry and trade unions are committed to dual training. The alliance partners pursue the goal of bringing as many people as possible to a qualified vocational qualification. The alliance was formed in December 2014.

+++

 "Whether we get this virus, whether we get this pandemic under control, will also be decided in Africa, in India or in Asia," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at the G7 health ministers' meeting in Oxford (United Kingdom) on Thursday. He called for a globally coordinated fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The international community of states must work together beyond the G7 on vaccine production and distribution, Spahn said. The Federal Health Minister also referred to the international early warning centre currently planned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Berlin: "Germany can play a leading role worldwide in international health policy and pandemic prevention."

+++

The state has used more than 130 billion euros to deal with the consequences of the Corona pandemic and thus the biggest economic crisis of the post-war period. A year ago, the German government adopted the economic stimulus package, which Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier paid tribute to again on Thursday to mark the occasion. "Businesses have struggled to survive and we have helped them," he said.

Economic growth of at least 3.5 per cent expected

The short-time allowance has helped to secure more than one million jobs. Large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and the self-employed received more than 100 billion in grants and loans.

The substance of the German economy and high employment have been preserved as a result, according to Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier. The Federal Government expects strong economic growth of at least 3.5 percent this year. The package of measures put together with the economic stimulus package was aimed at a quick pick-up in economic growth after a sharp economic slump. "Today we can say that the economic engine is running again," Altmaier said.

Aid for those who really need it

However, there will also be companies that will still not be able to open their doors to the full extent and whose sales will not immediately pick up again. The German government therefore wants to extend the Corona aid beyond 30 June 2021. The Federal Minister of Economics expects a final agreement next week. "We will make sure that it only covers those who actually need it," Altmaier said. Proof of at least a 30 per cent drop in turnover is a prerequisite for receiving aid money. This is also part of a responsible and orderly return to the basic principles of the social market economy, he said.
 

+++ Wednesday, 02.06.2021 +++

In view of the falling incidences, current infection figures and an easing situation in intensive care units, the Robert Koch Institute downgrades the risk situation from "very high" to "high" in its risk assessment for Germany. There is good news, said RKI President Lothar Wieler. But even if everyone now wishes for normality and everyday life, the pandemic is not over yet. For this reason, a mix of confidence and caution is important, added Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. "A lot is already going well, but not everything yet. One feels more confidence and a better mood," he said. This must now be combined with the necessary caution. A look at other countries makes it clear that there are examples around the world where overconfidence has gone wrong.

Vaccinations in full swing

RKI head Wieler reminded the audience that many millions of people in the country had not yet been vaccinated. For this reason, he said, only controlled and responsible opening steps are possible. For measures to be largely dispensed with, "more than 80 per cent" of people in the country would have to have vaccination or immune protection. This means: a complete vaccination or a passed infection plus vaccination. As of 1 June, 18 percent of people in Germany are fully vaccinated. Current figures can be found on the vaccination dashboard of the Federal Ministry of Health. Federal Health Minister Spahn said: "If things continue like this, vaccination numbers up, incidences down, then this can be a really good summer. And this positive trend, this development, we have all worked hard together through a lot of individual sacrifice, through many hardships in many areas of life, through caution and prudence, through a lot of testing and, yes, through vaccination."

This week, more than 70,000 doctors in Germany are vaccinating - more than in the weeks before. According to the current status, 80 to 90 per cent of all those willing to be vaccinated could be offered a vaccination by mid-July, Spahn said. This is taking into account the quantities of vaccine doses that have been promised so far and does not include the offer from the manufacturer Johnson&Johnson.

Nationwide emergency brake until 30 June

Because of the high incidence of infection, the nationwide emergency brake was a "necessary instrument", he said. "This has helped to achieve this situation now," said Spahn. Now everyone must work together "so that we no longer need such a measure". The emergency brake expires automatically on 30 June 2021. It was introduced to curb the incidence of infections and provides for uniform nationwide measures from 7-day incidences of 100.

 

+++ Tuesday, 01.06.2021 +++

"We are well on the way to overcoming the Corona pandemic. That is what the figures reported to us by the Robert Koch Institute in recent weeks tell us," says Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. "However, one figure continues to cause concern - the number of people suffering from Covid 19."

So far, more than 3.6 million people in Germany have Covid-19. Ten percent of them are estimated to suffer from late effects of infection.

Long Covid is defined as patients who experience symptoms for more than three months. The most common late symptoms include extreme fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, shortness of breath and loss of the sense of smell and taste.

Deciphering late effects in order to be able to treat those affected in the best possible way

According to the minister, medical research has a broad base of knowledge about the coronavirus. With a new research programme, five million euros are now available to fund research projects on late symptoms of Covid-19. Karliczek emphasised that this is a further strengthening of medical research, which is very well positioned in Germany.

Because: There are still a number of unanswered questions about Long-Covid. It is known that Long-Covid disease is independent of the course of the disease during infection. Both people with mild, but also patients with severe courses of the disease can suffer from Long-Covid.

The multitude of different symptoms of Long-Covid - so far there are about 50 symptoms, some of them very different - makes it difficult for doctors to make the right diagnosis and to initiate the right treatment. Finding a clear definition of long covid is one of the central tasks of the new funding programme.  

 

+++ Monday, 31 May 2021 +++

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended that Biontech/Pfizer's vaccine be approved for adolescents aged twelve years and older. This was announced by the EMA on Friday. Following the recommendation by the EMA, the EU Commission will now decide on the approval in the European Union.

Vaccination to be possible soon

Children and adolescents aged 12 and older are soon to be able to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. When vaccination prioritisation falls - usually from 7 June - they too will be able to get a vaccination appointment. This was decided by the federal and state governments at a discussion on vaccination on Thursday. In addition, the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) for Germany will still issue a recommendation on the vaccination of children and adolescents from the age of 12. However, Chancellor Merkel had stressed at the exchange with the Länder on Thursday: "Safe schooling will continue to be completely independent of the question of whether a child is vaccinated or whether a child is not vaccinated."  There should be no indirect compulsion for parents to have their child vaccinated, he said: "We don't have compulsory vaccination."

 

+++ Thursday, 27.05.2021 +++

Children aged 12 and over are to be able to seek a Corona vaccination appointment in Germany from 7 June. With the expected approval of the Biontech vaccine for this age group by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), they would be able to seek vaccination from doctors in private practice or at vaccination centres from the planned end of prioritisation, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) announced in Berlin on Thursday following consultations between the federal and state governments. It is up to the parents to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children. There should be no disadvantages for non-vaccinated children. Safe school operation is to be ensured regardless of how many pupils take advantage of a vaccination offer. (with dpa)

+++

Cultural life in Germany is actually diverse and colourful. Attending concerts, theatre, opera and film performances, but also exhibitions, readings or musicals is a natural part of life for many people.

With the onset of the Corona pandemic, this came to an abrupt end. A standstill that also had serious economic consequences: A large number of creative people, artists lost their livelihood-securing income. Above all, many cultural organisers now also lack the means to prepare for a period of reopening and to dare to plan for future cultural offerings.

Especially in the current crisis, many people have felt how much culture as a community experience is missing, explains Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture. The longing for cultural enjoyment is enormous - among the public, but above all among the artists and creative people who finally want to get back to work.

Targeted support for the cultural sector

This is where the Federal Government's special fund for cultural events of up to 2.5 billion euros is intended to help. It is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), which also coordinates the implementation of the programme.

The special fund supplements existing federal aid for the cultural sector. With NEUSTART KULTUR, the BKM launched a programme last year to maintain the cultural infrastructure, for which 2 billion euros are available. The Federal Government also provides targeted support for creative professionals through the Bridging Aid III, here above all through the New Start Aid for Solo Self-Employed Workers.

Special fund with two aid components

The special fund supports the resumption and the planning of cultural events with two central building blocks: a profitability aid for smaller events that take place with a reduced audience in compliance with Corona-related hygiene regulations of the Länder. This assistance will be available for events with up to 500 people from 1 July 2021 and for events with up to 2,000 people from 1 August 2021. The second component is cancellation cover for larger cultural events planned for the period from 1 September 2021. This concerns concerts and festivals with more than 2,000 visitors, which require a long planning lead time.

Implementation by the Länder

The Special Fund of the Federal Government is implemented by the Ministries of Culture of the Länder. The cultural authorities there or other commissioned agencies are responsible for reviewing and approving applications.

+++

Corona

 

+++ Tuesday, 25.05.2021 +++

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn gave a positive assessment of the vaccination progress at a press conference together with RKI President Wieler before the holidays. In the meantime, more than 10.9 million people in Germany had received their second vaccination and thus had full vaccination protection. 39.2 percent had received at least one vaccination. This is two-thirds of all people in Germany who currently want to be vaccinated and can be, for example, because they are at least 16 years old. The vaccination rate is also high among older people: by now, more than 70 percent of people over 60 have been vaccinated at least once.

Vaccination offer for all well before the end of summer

There has been a strong momentum in vaccination in recent weeks, he said: By Easter, twelve per cent of the population in Germany had received a first vaccination. Now, on the coming Whitsun weekend, an increase to 40 percent is expected. At this rate, it will probably be possible to offer vaccination to everyone who wants it well before the end of the summer, said Spahn.

Lifting vaccination prioritisation: patience urged

As of 7 June, when vaccination prioritisation will be lifted, vaccinations can be carried out more flexibly and pragmatically by doctors' offices, but also in companies, where company doctors vaccinate. Nevertheless, Health Minister Spahn appealed to the patience of all those who want to be vaccinated and called for understanding for those who carry out the vaccinations. Not everyone can get a vaccination appointment immediately.

Target: 80 percent vaccinated and recovered

Meanwhile, RKI President Wieler sees a very high willingness to be vaccinated in Germany. According to Wieler, 73 percent of people wanted to be vaccinated, and another 10 percent were more likely to be vaccinated than not. According to the RKI President, vaccination is "sensible, effective and responsible. After all, the virus can only be controlled if 80 per cent of the population are protected - either fully vaccinated or vaccinated once after having been infected.

Caution urged nonetheless

Nevertheless, it is important to remain cautious, emphasised Federal Health Minister Spahn. "The pandemic is not over yet." This was also emphasised by RKI President Wieler. Without the various measures to combat the pandemic, the virus would quickly spread again. One must not relax too soon, he said. "We must not allow the virus to gain the upper hand again because we want too much all at once," Wieler said. With regard to the seven-day incidence, Wieler attested to a positive trend. The incidence is continuously decreasing and is currently at 67.3. The number of corona patients in the intensive care units is also decreasing. Despite the decline in incidence figures and the increase in vaccinations, Wieler appealed to the population: "Let's use the summer to suppress the spread of the virus as much as possible so that we get through autumn and winter well." 

 

+++ Tuesday, 18.5.2021 +++

The vaccination prioritisation for a Corona vaccination is to be dropped from 7 June. This was announced by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn after the Health Ministers' Conference on Monday. The cancellation applies to doctors' practices, company doctors and vaccination centres.

The vaccination campaign will thus gain further speed. And it will be possible to reach those who previously did not have easy access to a vaccination appointment, the health minister said.

According to current plans, at least 15 million first and second vaccinations will take place in Germany in the next three weeks. 

 

+++ Monday, 17.05.2021 +++

With effect from 0:00 on Sunday 16 May 2021, Great Britain is classified as a Corona risk area. The classification is despite a 7-day incidence of less than 50 per 100,000 population due to at least limited occurrence of variant B.1.617.2 in the UK. This variant was first detected in India and has since been classified as a cause for concern by the WHO, writes the Robert Koch Institute.

India's neighbouring countries Sri Lanka and Nepal will also be upgraded by the federal government on Sunday: Sri Lanka as a risk area and Nepal as a virus variant area - the highest risk level.

At the same time, however, countries and regions will also be downgraded on the risk scale on Sunday - for example, Spain, the Canary Islands and the autonomous city of Ceuta will no longer be considered risk areas. Further information on the designation of international risk areas can be found at the Robert Koch Institute.

Virus variant areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to widespread occurrence of certain SARS Co-V-2 virus variants. High incidence areas are areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to particularly high incidences for the spread of the coronavirus. Risk areas are areas with an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Information for travellers can be found here or on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

 

+++ Friday, 14.05.2021 +++

With the new version 2.2 of the Corona warning app, users can now create a quick test profile with their personal data in the form of a QR code as well as generate a report if they notice an error in the app.

Faster testing through quick test profile

By extending the Corona warning app, users can create a quick test profile themselves in the form of a QR code containing their personal data before the next quick test. This can help to shorten the duration of the test procedure at test centres of participating partners that do not have their own booking system and work without prior appointment. No further registration is then necessary there on site and only the QR code has to be scanned in the app.
The created profile can then be shown again at every further test, but can also be easily removed from the app at any time. Basically, the staff at the testing centres need the personal data of the person tested in order to inform the public health department in case of a positive result.

More efficient analysis and rectification of errors

Furthermore, users can now create a log themselves in the Corona warning app if they notice an error and the technical support (hotline available at +49 30 498 75401) requests a detailed error report. In this way, the individual technical steps and events in the course of the app can be recorded in detail - and sent to the experts at the Robert Koch Institute.
To create a bug report, you can scroll down in your Corona Warning app and go to "App Information". There you will find the item "Error reports" as of version 2.2.

 

+++ Wednesday, 12.05.2021 +++

Federal Health Minister Spahn urges further caution despite the easing of the Corona situation. The development is "going in the right direction", Spahn said at a press conference in Berlin. However, it is now necessary to be very careful. Together with Research Minister Karliczek, he announced a programme of 300 million euros for drug research.
The number of infections is currently falling in Germany. Doctors in intensive care units are feeling a relief. The positive rate in testing is going down. "But we have just relaxed at a level where other countries have not yet relaxed, despite higher vaccination rates," warns Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on Wednesday. He advocated relaxing with a lot of caution and linking that to tests.
The people in Germany must now be very careful that "confidence does not turn into overconfidence. That we don't have too much contact and too much relaxation," he said at a joint press conference with Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek and the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler.

Therapy can take away terror

"The virus will remain," says Spahn. In the future, the question will also be: How can one live with this virus? An effective therapy can take away the horror of the Covid 19 disease. It is especially important for people who cannot be vaccinated against the virus. That is why Spahn and Karliczek announced another programme for drug research.
The successes in vaccine research have shown that "every cent of research funding has paid off", the Minister explained. "And we now want to build on these successes with the vaccine with the drugs against Covid-19." The 300-million-euro programme will now also support late-stage clinical development up to approval, thus covering all development processes in the future.

Wieler: This pandemic is not over yet

RKI President Lothar Wieler explained that the vaccination rate alone is currently not enough to prevent the virus from spreading among the population. Until the virus is under control and measures and rules can be largely dispensed with, the proportion of immune people must be "well over 80 percent", Wieler said.
For the time being, therefore, all other measures remain essential: reducing contacts, keeping a distance, wearing masks, hygiene rules, ventilation, testing. "Without them, and if we open up too early, the virus would spread again," Wieler warned.

+++

Registration, testing, verification and quarantine obligations: In future, an ordinance will clarify all questions that are important for entering Germany during the pandemic. The Cabinet has passed a corresponding entry regulation.
The Coronavirus Entry Ordinance now brings together the various elements of entry in a uniform and comprehensive manner throughout Germany. It regulates the registration, testing and verification obligations, as previously found in the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance, and also the quarantine regulations after entry, which were previously the responsibility of the Länder. The transport ban from virus variant areas was also integrated into the ordinance.
The aim of the ordinance is to reduce the entry of infections from abroad as much as possible. Worldwide, the infection situation is still very dynamic. New virus variants are increasingly emerging that are more infectious and whose risk potential cannot yet be conclusively assessed.

Exemptions and facilitations for vaccinated and recovered persons

Due to current scientific findings, the ordinance also contains innovations, namely facilitations and exceptions to the entry regulations:
People who have recovered and been vaccinated are basically treated the same as those who have been tested. Those who can provide appropriate proof do not need to show a negative test result. Exception: Entry from virus-variant areas. In this case, only the test certificate will continue to be recognised.
The following applies to entry from a simple risk area: Tested, vaccinated and recovered persons do not have to go into quarantine if they can provide appropriate proof.
Those coming from a high incidence area can be released from quarantine early by testing five days after entry if the result is correspondingly negative. This is not possible if travellers have stayed in a virus variant area for the last ten days before entry.
The Coronavirus Entry Regulation comes into force on 13 May. On the website of the Robert Koch Institute, you can find out which areas and countries are classified as risk, high incidence or virus variant areas. This list is continuously updated.

+++ Tuesday, 11.05.2021 +++

On Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel had a virtual exchange with representatives of business associations and trade unions about the economic policy challenges of the Corona pandemic. Among other things, they discussed the short-term consequences of the pandemic on apprenticeships and the retail sector.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel held a video conference with representatives of business associations and trade unions to discuss the economic policy challenges of the Corona pandemic. Several federal ministers also took part in the virtual conversation: Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil, Health Minister Jens Spahn, Education Minister Anja Karliczek, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and State Minister Hendrik Hoppenstedt.

Strengthening the training companies on the way

The short-term consequences of the Corona pandemic for the economy were a focus of the exchange. It was also a matter of enabling young people to undergo vocational training despite the circumstances of the pandemic. In this context, the social partners welcomed the strengthening of training companies, which the Federal Government launched together with the partners of the "Alliance for Initial and Continuing Training" in March of this year. In the short term, the situation on the training market could be improved with digital career guidance services, virtual career counselling or virtual company internships.
The retail sector has also suffered from the Corona pandemic, existing problems such as the trend towards online trade or vacancies have worsened. The Federal Government's planned inner city strategy is intended to revitalise the inner cities in this context.
The participants also agreed that Germany should retain its strong position as an industrial country - and that climate protection and industrial production are not contradictory.

+++ Monday, 10.05.2021 +++

The Corona vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will in future generally be used in Germany for people aged 60 and over. However, younger people can also opt for it after receiving medical information: The prioritisation for this vaccine will be lifted. This was decided by the federal and state health ministers on Monday.
The prioritisation for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be lifted. This was decided jointly by the federal and state health ministers on Monday. This will give everyone the opportunity to be vaccinated with this vaccine, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.
According to the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Vaccination, the preparation is to be used in people over 60 years of age. Background: Similar to the vaccine from AstraZeneca, there had been very rare but severe side effects of cerebral venous thrombosis in young people in connection with a vaccination from Johnson&Johnson.
After medical information and individual risk analysis, vaccination is nevertheless also possible in younger people. Prioritisation with a fixed priority list has been fully lifted for this vaccine. Besides AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson is now the second preparation with which Corona vaccination is possible for everyone. The special feature of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine is that only one vaccination of it is sufficient for full protection.

Keeping up the pace in the vaccination campaign

By Monday, 7.8 million, or 9.4 per cent, of all German citizens had been fully vaccinated. Every third person has received at least one initial vaccination. The Federal Minister of Health assumes "that by the end of May, beginning of June, we will be able to vaccinate all over-60s in Germany who want to be vaccinated."
Despite falling incidences in many parts of Germany and encouraging developments in intensive care units, he said the numbers are still at a very high level. "The feeling is better than the situation at the moment," said Spahn, adding: "This makes it necessary to keep up the pace in the vaccination campaign."

Cautious test-based easing steps

Wherever possible, cautious relaxation steps could be taken. If federal states that fall below the seven-day incidence of 100 are now planning opening steps, he advises opening outside. There, the risk factor is "at least a factor of ten lower than indoors". All opening steps should be very strongly supported with corona tests. "Confidence must not become overconfidence," said Spahn.
This also applies with a view to possible travel. The problem is not a low incidence in the destination, but that people from other regions would bring infections with them to the holiday destinations. At least one test is necessary on the first day, and if in doubt, further tests in the following days.

Digital vaccination pass comes closer

The digital vaccination card is still being worked on at full speed and the first practical tests are being prepared. According to Health Minister Spahn, this is expected in the second half of the second quarter: "We are doing everything possible because we know how great the need for it is. However, data protection and data security must be clearly ensured, because these "are areas where we cannot and do not want to make any concessions in an app developed and made available by the federal government".
Spahn pointed out that the analogue vaccination certificate on paper is still valid - and the digital vaccination certificate is merely a practical addition.

+++ Wednesday, 05.05.2021 +++

People who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from a proven infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus are to receive certain relief. The Federal Cabinet has passed an ordinance to this effect, which now requires the approval of the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
The COVID-19 Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance provides for exemptions and relief for vaccinated people and those who have recovered from COVID-19 disease. Certain restrictions imposed by the Infection Control Act to contain the pandemic no longer apply to them. These include, for example, exit or contact restrictions. Likewise, there are to be exemptions from quarantine obligations for these persons.

Lifting unjustified encroachments on fundamental rights

The reason for this regulation is the increasing scientific evidence that vaccinated and recovered persons pose a significantly lower risk of infection. The aim is to repeal encroachments on fundamental rights that are no longer justified. "With the ordinance that has been passed, we want to give people answers as to which freedoms they can exercise again after a full vaccination or after a recovery," explained Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht.
The basis for the ordinance is § 28c of the Infection Protection Act. This regulation empowers the Federal Government to issue such an ordinance. The Bundestag and Bundesrat must approve it.

What relief is to be provided?

The COVID 19 Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance provides in particular:
- Contact and exit restrictions will no longer apply to vaccinated and recovered persons. This means, for example, that vaccinated and recovered persons will no longer be counted at private gatherings. Night-time exit restrictions under the Infection Protection Act also no longer apply to these groups of people.
- For certain exceptions to the Corona protection measures, for which a negative test is a prerequisite, vaccinated and recovered persons are to be placed on an equal footing with those who have tested negative. This means that they do not have to present a current negative test result in order to go to the hairdresser, for example.
- However, it is important to note that vaccinated, recovered and tested persons must continue to wear a mouth-nose covering and observe distance rules. There is no relief here.

What proof do vaccinated and recovered persons have to provide?

- Vaccinated persons must present proof of complete vaccination protection - for example, the yellow vaccination certificate. Depending on the vaccine, one or two vaccinations are required for full protection. At least 14 days must have passed since the last required single vaccination.
- Those who have recovered need proof of a positive PCR test (or other nucleic acid test) at least 28 days and no more than six months ago.
More details and the text of the ordinance can be found on the page of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

+++

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Wednesday that it would open a so-called "hub" in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the establishment and reminded in a video message that the world could only successfully meet a global challenge like the coronavirus pandemic together.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) will open a "Global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence" in Berlin later this year. Chancellor Merkel praised the decision in favour of the location "because many important players from the fields of health and digitalisation come together here. I'm thinking of the Charité and the Robert Koch Institute, of course, but also of the Hasso Plattner Institute." This will create a globally unique location for pandemic and health research, Merkel said.
The main task of the hub is to help detect and prevent future pandemic outbreaks at an early stage. To this end, data will be collected, evaluated and current findings brought together, thus creating a global data ecosystem. "An environment from which important action-oriented findings will emerge for governments and responsible persons worldwide," is how Chancellor Merkel sums up the hub's goal. For Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, the World Health Organisation facility is a tool for global medical prevention. "We need to be able to detect epidemics anywhere in the world as quickly as possible. This hub will make the world safer," said Minister Spahn on Wednesday.

+++ Tuesday, 04.05.2021 +++

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel opened this year's German Medical Congress with a video greeting on Tuesday. She thanked the entire medical staff for their achievements in the fight against the pandemic and appealed for the support of the entire society for medical professionals.
At the opening of the German Medical Congress, the Chancellor reminded the audience of the ongoing challenges posed to medical services by the pandemic. The hospitals and surgeries in Germany are the guarantors for coping with the waves of viruses. "For your self-sacrificing commitment in caring for patients - not just those suffering from Corona, of course," Merkel thanked the doctors and nurses. At the same time, the Chancellor appealed that the state, citizens, business and politics, i.e. society as a whole, must stand firmly by the side of medical personnel in this situation.

Avoid overburdening the health system

The Chancellor also emphasised the importance of the Federal Government's Infection Protection Act. It serves the goal of "limiting the number of new infections per day to a level where we can avoid overburdening the health system", Merkel said. The other important step on the way out of the pandemic is the successfully running vaccination campaign. The Chancellor is confident that "with increasing vaccine production and delivery, more and more specialist and private medical practices as well as company doctors can be included in our vaccination campaign".
In addition to the special challenges of coping with the pandemic, Merkel also praised the continuing exemplary medical care for people suffering from other diseases in Germany. The basis and insurance for the future of this security is a successful securing of skilled labour. "That is why we must do everything we can to ensure good professional conditions in the medical field, including for nursing staff," Merkel said at the end of her greeting.

+++

With a funding volume of 90 million euros, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is supporting the short-term production of so-called borosilicate tubular glass and glass vials for vaccine production. State Secretary Andreas Feicht points out the necessity of glass containers for vaccines.
With the "Guideline for Federal Funding of Production Facilities of Borosilicate Tubular Glass and Glass Vials for Use in Vaccine Production", the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding what are now important products for the vaccine supply in Germany.

Safe packaging for vaccines

A total of up to 90 million euros is available to support investments in plants for the production of the precursor borosilicate tubular glass and for glass vials. Glass vials are the primary packaging material used in the production of COVID-19 vaccines. State Secretary Andreas Feicht emphasises: "To ensure that the vaccination process does not come to a standstill, we not only need sufficient vaccines. It must also be possible to pack and transport the vaccines safely."
Applications for funding can be submitted from now until 15 June 2021. With the funding guideline, the ministry is implementing the mandate from the vaccination summit of 1 February 2021 to support and expand German or European capacities for vaccine production in the short term.

+++ Monday, 03.05.2021 +++

The federal government's Corona warning app has gained another important function with the integration of rapid tests. Users can now save the results of their rapid tests in the app and add them to the contact diary. Anyone who tests positive for Corona in a rapid test can also warn contacts directly via the app.
Users now have the option to get tested for COVID-19 at participating partners and receive the result of the rapid test via the Corona alert app. As with a PCR test, they can warn their contacts directly in the event of a positive test result. The prerequisite is that the test was carried out by trained and authorised staff according to the dual control principle. The new function in version 2.1 is intended to contribute to users being able to warn their environment even more quickly after a positive rapid test result and thus interrupt infection chains more quickly.

Data only decentralised on own smartphone

People who get tested by one of the partners receive their test result via a QR code that they can scan. In line with the decentralised approach, all personal data is only stored on the tested person's own smartphone.

Share positive test result via the app and warn contacts

In the event of a positive test result, users of the Corona warning app can warn their fellow human beings within the shortest possible time by sharing their result - as with a PCR test. Together with the positive test result, contacts who were checked in at the same place or event can also be warned via the check-ins from the event registration. These people will receive a warning accordingly in their Corona Warning app about an encounter on a low-risk (green tile) or high-risk (red tile) day. Whether the warning was based on a rapid test or a PCR test is not apparent in the app.

Result as evidence for a negative rapid test

A negative test result can be used by users of the Corona warning app as proof of the existence of a negative rapid test result, if this is stipulated by law. The negative result will be displayed in the Corona Warning App for 48 hours. However, the recognition of test evidence may vary from state to state. Users should therefore inform themselves about the respective criteria in their federal state.

Which partners are involved so far?

At the start of the rapid test integration, eight partners are participating, including the Federal Chancellery, the Bavarian Red Cross, dm-drogerie markt, Doctorbox, EcoCare, the healthcare brand of Ecolog Deutschland GmbH (with Lidl among others), Huber Health Care, the Ministry of Education and Culture Saarland and testbuchen.de/No-Q.

+++ Friday, 30.04.2021 +++

With the child bonus, the Federal Government is supporting families during the pandemic. In addition, the Corona supplement is intended to alleviate the burdens of the several-month lockdown for people who receive basic security benefits or social benefits. The Corona supplement and the child bonus of 150 euros each will be paid out automatically in May.

Who gets the Corona supplement?

The Corona supplement is intended to alleviate the burden of the lockdown, which lasts several months. It is aimed at people who receive basic income support or social benefits. Anyone who is single or a single parent or lives with a partner in a community of need will receive a one-time Corona supplement of 150 euros. The prerequisite is that there is an entitlement to basic income support or social benefit in May 2021. This also applies to adults who live with their parents and for whom child benefit is not taken into account as income. The one-off payment will be paid automatically from mid-May 2021. It will be credited from calendar week 19. A separate application is not necessary. A corresponding notice will be sent.

Who gets the child bonus?

The child bonus 2021 is paid for every child for whom there is or was an entitlement to child benefit for at least one month in 2021. This means that the bonus is also paid for children if there was no longer an entitlement in May 2021 or if there is not yet an entitlement: for example, if the child completed his or her education in March or if the child is not born until December.

Payment and amount of the child bonus

The child bonus 2021 amounts to 150 euros per child. It will be paid out in May 2021 for all children who are entitled to child benefit in May 2021. The payment will be made a few days after the regular child benefit payment. This means: The child bonus is not paid together with the child benefit, but as a separate payment.

For children who are or were entitled to child benefit in another month in 2021, the child bonus will be paid at a later date. The one-off payment is not offset against social benefits and does not have to be applied for separately.

The child bonus is an additional support for families in the Corona pandemic. It is a special payment for which the same basic requirements apply as for child benefit. The child bonus is part of the Federal Government's Third Corona Tax Assistance Act. Families receive it as a financial aid because they are exposed to special burdens due to the Corona crisis.

+++ Thursday, 29.04.2021 +++

Corona infection figures seem to be stabilising at a high level. The steep rise in new infections has been halted for the time being, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn explained today - to add: "Unfortunately, this is not yet enough, because the overall figures are still too high".

Many doctors and intensive care nurses are working at full capacity

A look at the intensive care units also shows this: "They are still too full in too many cities in too many regions. Some Covid 19 patients have to be transferred," Spahn emphasised. He recalled that many doctors and intensive care nurses have been working "to the hilt" for months.

Therefore, he said, it was clear: "The numbers must not only stagnate, they must go down, further down". This is the only way to protect lives - "but also, and above all, to protect our health system from being overburdened", said Spahn. Low numbers are not least the prerequisite for being able to open and loosen safely, he said. "There is hope. There are also many things that can give confidence. But there is no all-clear yet in this phase of the pandemic," Spahn said.

Rising case numbers worldwide

The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, also emphasised: "Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet." Within one week, the number of cases worldwide had risen by 24 per cent. The pandemic will only be under control when this is the case in all parts of the world. "Because the virus knows no national borders."

A clear increase is visible in vaccination - in the meantime, more than 20 million citizens have received an initial vaccination, Spahn said. Since people in priority group 3 are already being vaccinated in many federal states, the vaccination order can probably be abandoned in June.

Progress in vaccination gives hope

Until then, he said, the prioritisation would continue, because there are now many occupational groups that cannot work in a home office - such as shop assistants, bus drivers, judicial officials, teachers. "After months of waivers, the progress on immunisation gives hope. Improvement is noticeably in sight," Spahn explained.

With the vaccinations, the prerequisite is created to make more everyday life possible again. There are plans to make things easier for those who have been vaccinated. For example, they will no longer have to present a negative test when shopping or going to the hairdresser. The Federal Government and the Länder had discussed this together on Monday.

Balancing interests during the transition phase

Spahn stressed that we are now in a transitional phase in which many people do not yet have full vaccination protection, are waiting for their vaccination and have resigned for others. At the same time, those who have been vaccinated say that the restrictions on freedom must be withdrawn because they no longer pose a risk. Now it is a matter of "bringing this into a good balance", said Spahn. It was good that the Bundestag and Bundesrat were also involved in this decision.

RKI President Wieler explained that vaccinations do not make the virus disappear. The vaccines do give the body basic immunity, but cannot prevent infection in every case. "This means that even for those who have been vaccinated, there is a residual risk that they can become infected and infect others," Wieler said.

Wieler calls for solidarity

The RKI president appealed to vaccinated and unvaccinated people to continue to stand in solidarity with each other "in order to survive and break this third wave as best as possible". By continuing to behave responsibly, "we are saving many unvaccinated people from being infected now in the last few metres just before vaccination," Wieler said. "That can and should be the goal of all of us. That is why we should all contribute to it".

+++

Whether schoolchild, trainee, employee or pensioner: access to digitally-supported education should be improved for everyone - beyond the Corona pandemic. This is the goal of the National Education Platform. Federal Education Minister Karliczek has now given the go-ahead for its development.

"The platform is the core of a new digital education space for Germany and the modernisation of education as a whole: With these words, Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek emphasised the importance of the National Education Platform.  The Ministry intends to initially fund the development of prototypes, curricula and didactic concepts with 150 million euros.

The platform starts with good digital education offers that were developed not least during the Corona pandemic. These and new offerings are to be linked to form a nationwide platform system that is also connectable at the European level.

Target group: the entire population 

The special feature of the platform is that it is aimed at the entire population. Every individual should have easier access to digital educational offers, regardless of his or her current life situation. In addition, the platform is user-centred: it takes into account the respective individual needs.

A pupil, for example, will find exercises tailored to his or her needs. A maths teacher receives a comprehensive overview of an assignment pool. A trainer discovers helpful exam materials. And an early retiree can easily use digital offers for further education. In addition, everyone can store their certificates and diplomas on the platform in encrypted form: Important proofs of competence can thus be accessed at any time with a click. According to Minister Karliczek, the central goal of the platform is to support learners throughout their entire educational career.

+++ Wednesday, 28.04.2021 +++

The Federal Government has revised its economic forecast for 2021 upwards. The gross domestic product will increase by 3.5 percent this year - previously a plus of 3.0 percent had been expected. For 2022, growth of 3.6 per cent is expected.

"The comprehensive and rapid support provided by the Federal Government since the beginning of the crisis is having an effect," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier at the presentation of the spring projection. "By 2022 at the latest, we will have regained our former strength. Our economy is strong, robust and ready for a new start."

Exports as an important driver

The projection is based on the assumption that Corona restrictions to protect health and life can be eased during the second quarter of 2021. Thereafter, a significant recovery of the domestic economy and a plus in private consumer spending are expected.

Also, despite the ongoing infection, the industrial economy and the demand for German goods abroad present themselves as important drivers. This year's recovery will be driven primarily by exports, which are expected to grow by 9.2 percent.

The macroeconomic key figures of the spring projection form the basis for the tax estimate from 10 to 12 May 2021. As a common orientation framework, they serve to prepare the public budgets of the Federal Government, the Länder, the municipalities and the social security funds.

The Federal Government forecasts the economic development for Germany three times a year. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is responsible for this.

+++ Tuesday, 27.04.2021 +++

The federal and state governments discussed on Monday to lift the prioritisations for the Corona vaccinations in June at the latest. In many federal states, prioritisation groups 1 and 2 have already been vaccinated, said Chancellor Angela Merkel. She assumes that people from prioritisation group 3 will receive their first vaccination in the course of May. Therefore, the vaccination order could be abandoned in June, she said. "That does not mean that everyone can then be vaccinated immediately. But then everyone can make an effort to get vaccinated," Merkel said after the meeting. From June onwards, company doctors should then also increasingly get involved in the vaccination campaign.

In principle, everyone who wants to be vaccinated should receive an offer by the end of the summer. "Of course, this presupposes that the vaccines are effective, i.e. that no mutations occur and the vaccines are no longer effective. But from the number of vaccines we have been promised, we can make everyone an offer of vaccination by the end of the summer," said the Chancellor.

Chancellor Merkel: "The goal is to restore to all people all possibilities of life, that is, the basic rights and uses of their known possibilities of life, as quickly as possible, that is, to keep the restrictions as low as possible."

In addition, the federal government and the Länder talked about facilitations for vaccinated and recovered people. "Those who have recovered are to be treated the same as those who have been vaccinated if either the illness did not occur more than six months ago or those who have recovered have one vaccination dose plus 14 days for the development of immune protection. Then those who have recovered are to be treated the same as those who have been vaccinated," Merkel explained. For example, they should not have to present a negative Corona test when shopping or visiting the hairdresser. The Chancellor: "It is clear that where rapid tests are expected as access authorisation, vaccinated and recovered persons do not have to produce these tests." The compulsory quarantine after entry from abroad should also be dropped for vaccinated persons. The goal is to return to the familiar way of life as quickly as possible - "but that won't happen any time soon".

Vaccinated, recovered, tested - the differences

Vaccinated persons are those who, according to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO), have full vaccination protection with vaccines approved by the European Union. Depending on the vaccine, this means one or two vaccinations. These must have taken place 14 days previously. The proof must be submitted digitally or analogue.

Persons who have recovered are those who can prove a positive PCR test result at least 28 days ago. This applies for up to six months, as one can assume sufficient immune protection for this long. Important: According to the current status, a detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is not sufficient to make a reliable statement about immunity.

Persons are considered to have been tested if a negative PCR test or a negative rapid (antigen) test was detected by trained personnel or a negative (antigen) self-test was monitored by trained personnel.

According to current knowledge, vaccinated and recovered people have a lower risk of infecting others. However, rules such as wearing a mask, keeping your distance and hygiene still apply.

+++ Monday, 26.04.2021 +++

According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, more than 10.7 billion euros of the November and December aid have been disbursed - this corresponds to 96 percent of the funds. The bridging aid III, which has been available since February, is also making progress. Almost 147,000 applications with a volume of about 8.66 billion euros have been received, and almost half of the requested funds, 4.18 billion euros, have already been paid out, the ministry announced.

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier expects the situation to ease by summer at the latest: "I want to encourage our businesses, the fashion boutiques, the corner pubs, the travel agencies. I am deeply impressed by their perseverance. Together we will get out of this crisis again." Currently, around 96 billion euros in Corona economic aid has already been approved.

Solo self-employed and large companies benefit

According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, 914 million euros have been paid out to solo self-employed persons, who can apply for one-time payments through a so-called new start-up aid. According to the ministry, 16 companies are under the state rescue umbrella, the Economic Stabilisation Fund (WSF), including the partially nationalised Lufthansa. A total of 18 applications with a volume of around 8.5 billion euros were approved.

+++

India will be classified as an area at particularly high risk of infection (virus variant area) with effect from Monday, 26 April 2021. "We are very concerned about the newly discovered virus mutation in India. In order not to jeopardise our vaccination campaign, travel to India must be significantly restricted," emphasised Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on Twitter.

Further information on the consequences of the reclassification for travellers and on the situation in India is provided by the Federal Foreign Office in its travel and safety advice

 

+++ Thursday, 22.04.2021 +++

With the latest update to version 2.0, the Corona Warn app gets event registration functionality. This means that in future users will be able to check in at retail outlets, events or private meetings via QR code. Possible clusters can thus be detected and infection chains can be interrupted in a targeted manner.

App also helps at events

With event registration, organisers and retailers can use the Corona warning app to create a QR code in which all the necessary data about the event is encoded. This includes, for example, the location of the event, the date, the type of event and, if applicable, the beginning and end. Visitors and guests can check in for the event by scanning the QR code. The check-in is stored locally on their smartphone and automatically deleted after two weeks.

People who later test positive for COVID-19 can share their check-ins together with the diagnostic keys via the app and thus upload them to the server of the Corona warning app. The server then publishes the corresponding check-ins as alerts. These alerts are downloaded regularly and automatically matched with the local check-ins on the smartphones of other users. Whether users receive a green or red warning depends on whether their stay overlaps with that of an infected person. In the contact diary, users can see whether an encounter with low or increased risk is an event-based warning.

Two different event scenarios

There are two different scenarios in which event organisers, retailers and individuals can use the new event registration feature:

- Scenario 1: Ad-hoc event: An ad-hoc event can be created at short notice by the organiser and has a defined start and end time. This includes, for example, private meetings, celebrations or smaller events.

- Scenario 2: Permanent location: In contrast to ad-hoc events, so-called permanent locations do not have a fixed start and end time. In this case, a QR code is typically made available in a room for a longer period of time. Guests or customers scan this QR code anew with each visit. Examples of a permanent location are hairdressers or restaurants.

How do check-in and check-out work?

In version 2.0 of the Corona Warning App, users will find the tab "Check-In" in the tab of the Corona Warning App. This takes them to an overview of their check-ins and allows them to check in or out of an event. To check in, users can scan the corresponding QR code. With iOS, this works via the camera; with Android devices, it depends on the respective manufacturer whether the smartphone camera can read QR codes. All check-ins can be automatically transferred to the contact diary. Guests and customers can also check themselves out in this area by clicking on "Check out now" under the event. Alternatively, organisers can also set an automatic check-out after a predefined time. Users then receive a notification that they have been checked out, but can manually adjust the time afterwards via the tab.

How to create a QR code

Event organisers or retailers can create a QR code for their visitors and guests to scan via the new section on the home screen of the Corona alert app. To do this, they simply click on "Create QR code". They can then enter information about the event: After selecting the category (e.g. retail or private party), they can specify a description of the event, the location and start and end dates. The Corona warning app uses this information to create a QR code that can be displayed on the smartphone or printed out and posted on site.

 

+++ Wednesday, 21 April 2021 +++

Not all employees can work in a home office. For them, contacts at the workplace and on the way to work pose an increased risk of infection. Tests in the company can help to detect infections at an early stage and prevent further infections. Employers have therefore been obliged to offer corona tests to their employees since 20 April.

Tests offer employees additional safety

The voluntary testing efforts of many employers to date are highly commendable. However, with an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, employers are now obliged to offer their employees who cannot work in a home office a Corona test once a week. Employee groups with an increased risk of infection are to be offered testing twice a week.

The tests are a necessary addition to the company's infection protection and offer employees additional security. "In this way we can prevent chains of infection, protect health and ultimately avoid company closures. This new obligation has become necessary so that really all workers in the company receive an offer of testing," explained Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil.

Measures in force so far remain in force

The type of test does not matter - it can be a quick test or a self-test. The costs for the tests are borne by the employers. Workers are not obliged to accept the test offer. Nor is there any obligation to certify the test result.

It is important to note, however, that the measures that have been in place up to now will continue:

- Limiting the number of employees in enclosed work and break rooms,

- Home office, if there are no operational reasons to the contrary,

- the formation of fixed company work groups,

- wearing mouth and nose protection in case of unavoidable contact, and

- the preparation and implementation of company hygiene concepts.

The amendment extends the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance until 30 June 2021. The Federal Cabinet took note of the Second Ordinance Amending the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance last week. It has now come into force, five days after publication in the Federal Law Gazette.

Rules and recommendations: Wherever people come together, there is an increased risk of infection - including in the workplace. Employees and employers can do a lot to reduce the risk of Corona infections. More on the most important rules and recommendations for employees. 

 

+++ Monday, 19.04.2021 +++

An independent scientific review panel has now recommended to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research the first funding recommendations for eight projects under the funding programme "Research and Development of Urgently Needed Therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2". Projects from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as other scientific consortia under industrial coordination whose preclinical developments are far enough advanced to move their drug candidates into clinical trials are to be funded. 

"We have seen since the outbreak of the new coronavirus: Research is a central key in the fight against the pandemic," emphasised Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. The Ministry has therefore been providing funding to combat Sars-CoV-2 since the beginning of the pandemic. "I am therefore very pleased that we can now continue to support promising approaches to drug research and jointly advance the clinical development of drug candidates," said Karliczek.

"There will be no 'one pill' against COVID-19"

Looking ahead to the third wave of the pandemic and its management, the Federal Research Minister said, "We are at an important crossroads in the Corona pandemic: the vaccination campaign is gaining speed. Testing opportunities are increasing. At the same time, we are concerned about the continuing high numbers of infections and increasing hospital workloads." It must be expected that people will continue to fall ill with Covid-19 - and in some cases with very severe courses of the disease.

This is precisely the aim of the funding programme. "We therefore urgently need more effective drugs to treat sufferers. But there will be no 'one pill' against Covid-19," Karliczek continues. Patients will need different therapies depending on the severity and stage of the disease. It is therefore important to expand the treatment repertoire according to need and to strengthen promising drug developments.

+++

The German economy is growing again - but somewhat slower than researchers expect. They expect the gross domestic product to increase by 3.7 per cent in the current year and by 3.9 per cent in the coming year. This is "a clear sign of confidence, optimism and well-founded hope", according to Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier.

Economy still in the grip of the pandemic

At present, the restrictions to contain the pandemic are delaying the economic recovery, the economic researchers emphasise in their joint diagnosis. However, as soon as the risk of infection, especially through vaccination, decreases, a strong recovery will set in. At the beginning of next year, the economy can probably return to normal capacity utilisation.

Altmaier is also confident that "this year we will not only stop the economic slump, but reverse it and return to our old strength next year". For this reason, he said, it is important that the aid programmes for businesses work and that the money reaches those affected. The federal government will continue to support the economy in coping with the consequences of the pandemic as best it can.

The so-called Joint Economic Forecast is produced twice a year on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics. The German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, the Ifo Institute in Munich, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Halle and the RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen are involved in the process.

 

+++ Thursday, 15.04.2021 +++

The global epidemiological situation with regard to the spread of coronavirus infections continues to develop very dynamically. Several new virus variants with serious changes in viral properties continue to spread. In order to prevent the uncontrolled spread of viral mutations of the coronavirus in Germany, it is necessary to extend the restriction on the transport of persons entering Germany from virus variant areas.

The Federal Cabinet therefore decided on 13 April 2021 to extend the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance until 28 April 2021. Virus variant areas are areas in which there is a particular risk of entry due to the spread of mutations of the virus. These areas are published on the website of the Robert Koch Institute and adapted to current developments.

The test must be carried out no more than 48 hours before entry.

Persons entering the country from virus variant areas must always prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus. The swab for the test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before entry, regardless of whether the entry is from a risk area or an area with a particularly high risk (high-incidence areas or virus variant areas).

In the case of testing of entrants from virus variant areas by the carrier, the smear test must be taken no more than 12 hours before departure. Further information on entry can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

Exceptions for returning German citizens

It is still advisable to impose a transport ban on carriers and, in addition, entry restrictions on persons returning from the areas in question. This applies to the protection of the population in Germany in addition to the already existing testing and quarantine regulations. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance is primarily aimed at carriers, i.e. companies that transport persons from a risk area in cross-border rail, bus, ship or air transport.

Exemptions for entry into Germany from virus variant areas apply, among other things, to the return of German citizens and persons with residence and right of abode in Germany. A complete list of relevant exceptions to the transport ban and entry restrictions from virus variant areas can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

It continues to apply that non-essential travel to risk areas and in particular to virus variant areas is to be urgently avoided. Please inform yourself about the current risk areas on the website of the Robert Koch Institute. Further information for travellers is available on the websites of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Foreign Office.

+++

Not all employees can work in a home office. The workplace and commute pose an increased risk of infection for them. Here, tests in the company can help to detect infections at an early stage and prevent further infections. In future, employers will be obliged to offer corona tests to their employees.

Tests offer employees additional safety

The voluntary testing efforts of many employers to date are highly commendable. However, with an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, employers will now be obliged to offer their employees who cannot work in a home office a Corona test once a week. Employee groups with an increased risk of infection are to be offered testing twice a week.

The tests are a necessary addition to the company's infection protection and offer employees additional security. "In this way we can prevent chains of infection, protect health and ultimately avoid company closures. This new obligation has become necessary so that really all employees in the company receive a test offer," explained Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil. The changes will be made by decree and are expected to come into force in the middle of next week.

Measures in force so far remain in force

Employers will bear the costs of the tests. Workers will not be obliged to accept the test offer. Nor is there any obligation to certify the test result.

However, it is important to note that the measures in place so far remain in place:

- Limitation of the number of employees in enclosed work and break rooms,

- Home office, if there are no operational reasons to the contrary,

- the formation of fixed company work groups,

- wearing mouth and nose protection in case of unavoidable contact, and

- the preparation and implementation of company hygiene concepts.

The amendment extends the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance until 30 June 2021. The Federal Cabinet has taken note of the Second Ordinance Amending the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance.

 

+++ Wednesday, 14.04.2021 +++

If a district or an independent city exceeds an incidence of 100, additional measures that are uniformly defined throughout the country are to slow down the incidence of infection in the future. The Federal Cabinet has agreed on this. Now the Bundestag will discuss this proposed amendment to the Infection Protection Act. Therefore, on Tuesday, the Cabinet adopted an amendment to the Infection Protection Act as a formulation aid for the CDU/CSU and SPD parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag:

Uniform federal emergency brake

If the number of new infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 per 100,000 inhabitants exceeds the threshold value of 100 in a district or an independent city on three consecutive days within seven days, additional measures are to apply there from the day after next. These are a variety of measures aimed at significantly reducing contacts. These measures can be found in the newly inserted § 28b Infection Protection Act. These are primarily the measures that have already been agreed between the Länder and the federal government on the emergency brake.      

- Contact restrictions for private meetings indoors and outdoors: Reducing contacts - thus also private contacts - is the most effective way to slow down the number of new infections.  Nevertheless, no one should remain lonely. Therefore, meetings of a household member with another person are still possible even if the incidence exceeds 100 - meetings with more people, on the other hand, are not.

- Opening of shops: The basic idea is that the reliable supply of the population with food, consumer goods for daily needs and existential services should be ensured. Accordingly, the food trade including direct marketing, beverage markets, health food shops, baby markets, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drugstores, opticians, hearing aid acousticians, petrol stations, newspaper sales outlets, bookshops, florists, pet supplies markets, animal feed markets and garden markets can remain open. The prerequisite, of course, remains the observance of appropriate hygiene concepts and the obligation to wear masks. In the service sector, everything that is not expressly prohibited remains open, for example bicycle and car repair shops, banks and savings banks, post offices and the like.

- Body-related services - only in exceptions: Body-related services should only be used for medical, therapeutic, nursing or pastoral purposes. Exception: a visit to the hairdresser, but only if the customer can present a daily negative corona test - and of course only with a mask. Other services close to the body should no longer be possible.

- Restricted leisure and sports facilities: Restaurants and hotels, leisure and cultural facilities are to close if the incidence exceeds 100.  Professional athletes as well as the competitive athletes of the federal and state squads can continue to train and also compete, - as before without spectators and in compliance with protection and hygiene concepts. For all others, the rule is: sport yes, but alone, in pairs or only with members of your own household.  

- Outlet restrictions: In the period between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., only those should leave the house who have a good reason to do so, for example, they are working, need medical help or have to walk the dog. Exit restrictions are one instrument among many others. They help to limit mobility. And restrictions on mobility help to reduce the number of new infections.

- No face-to-face teaching if the incidence is over 200: The infection situation does not stop at the school door. Due to the dynamic infection situation, it is therefore right to come to nationwide regulations here as well, if the epidemiological situation requires it. If the incidence exceeds 200, attendance classes in schools and regular care in day-care centres should be prohibited. Possible exceptions: Graduating classes and special schools. 

 

+++ Tuesday, 13.04.2021 +++

Since spring 2020, the medical language assistance app "aidminutes.rescue" has enabled rescue workers to conduct anamnesis conversations in medical emergency situations with patients speaking foreign languages. With the new "vaccination mode", the app can now also support medical staff during Corona vaccinations. With this functional extension, reliable and legally secure guidance through the vaccination process can be provided in different languages.

The mode is very simple: the vaccination conversation is both documented and saved on the terminal device. The education process and the declaration of consent can thus be archived and provide legally secure proof for the vaccination staff that they have educated the person to be vaccinated in accordance with the current regulations.

Multilingualism enables accessibility

So far, the contents of the app are available in more than 40 languages and regional dialects. In addition, information is available in both simple and child-friendly languages. In principle, the app can also be used worldwide, as the language of the people being treated can also be freely set. The medical content of the app was created by the Robert Koch Institute and the medical faculty of the University of Göttingen, and the updating of the application is also supervised by specialist staff.

The development of the medical language assistant was funded by the Federal Ministry of Health by resolution of the Bundestag. The app is available for the Android and iOS operating programmes and can be downloaded free of charge from the corresponding app stores.

 

+++ Monday, 12.04.2021 +++

The Infection Protection Act is to be amended. The federal and state governments have agreed on this. In the coming week, the federal cabinet will pass a resolution to this effect. For this purpose, the cabinet meeting will be brought forward from Wednesday to Tuesday. The meeting of the Federal Chancellor with the heads of the Länder governments on the Corona measures planned for Monday has been cancelled.

In future, the Infection Protection Act is to provide for a nationwide binding emergency brake. This is to take effect if the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a district rises above 100 in seven days, as deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer announced on Friday.The federal and state governments had agreed on this regulation in "close consultation", Demmer stressed. Now the new regulation of the Infection Protection Act must be implemented as quickly as possible.  

 

+++ Friday, 09.04.2021 +++

The consequences of the Corona pandemic are weighing heavily on the German economy. Trade, services and other sectors are still suffering greatly from the restrictions. In order to be able to assess the situation of the companies, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier has exchanged views with representatives of the business associations. At what is now the fifth meeting, the topics included vaccination and testing.

Altmaier emphasised: "Rapid vaccination progress and the consistent use of rapid tests are crucial in this phase of the pandemic so that things can also get better for the economy as a whole." Many companies are taking a very responsible approach to the important role they have to play. He said it was gratifying that the business community had significantly expanded its range of tests for employees.

The federal government is providing extensive aid to strengthen companies and help them cope as well as possible with the consequences of the Corona pandemic.

 

+++ Thursday, 08.04.2021 +++

On World Health Day, German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called for a more responsible approach to nature worldwide. Covid-19 is a wake-up call for nature conservation, Müller said on Wednesday. Three quarters of all newly emerging infectious diseases originate from animals, he said. "Where rainforests burn and wild animals are wiped out, viruses lose their original host and jump more easily to humans," Müller wrote in a guest article published in the newspaper Rheinische Post.

The destruction of nature is progressing at a brutal pace: every minute, 15 football fields of forest are cut down - primarily for soy and palm oil production. "If we do not stop this trend, Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic," Müller said. German development policy supports 670 nature reserves worldwide, covering an area six times the size of Germany. Among them is the world's largest protected area, Kavango-Zambezi, which comprises 36 national parks in southern Africa.

Do more for corona vaccination in developing countries

On the occasion of World Health Day, Müller also called on the global community to do more for Corona vaccinations in developing countries. Only a worldwide vaccination campaign is the way out of the pandemic. But so far, only 0.5 per cent of vaccinations take place in the poorest countries. Germany is leading the way and has provided 2.2 billion euros as one of the largest supporters worldwide. 

+++ Wednesday, 07.04.2021 +++

GP practices are now also to join the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus, further increasing the pace of vaccination - in addition to the vaccination centres that the federal states have set up. Initially, 940,000 vaccine doses will be delivered to the practices this week and next week. In the course of the coming weeks, however, the doctors' surgeries are to receive more vaccine doses, as more vaccine quantities are gradually expected to become available.

On 19 March, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of government of the federal states decided to start vaccination in doctors' surgeries in the week after Easter.

Prioritisation is also the basis for doctors' surgeries

The prioritisation of the vaccination regulation is also the basis for decisions by doctors' practices. It remains the same: those most in need of protection should be vaccinated first.

Initially, the medical practices are called upon to vaccinate primarily immobile patients by home visit. The same applies to people with pre-existing conditions that are associated with a high risk in case of coronavirus infection. Beyond that, however, prioritisation can be applied flexibly within the framework of efficient vaccination organisation. 

 

+++ Tuesday, 06.04.2021 ++++

Corona vaccinations with the vaccine from AstraZeneca are to be given predominantly to citizens over 60 years of age from Wednesday, 31 March. This was decided by the ministers and senators for health of the federal and state governments.

Prior to this, the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) had presented a revised draft of its Covid 19 vaccination recommendation. It recommends the use of the vaccine from AstraZeneca for people over 60 years of age. However, use below this age limit remains "possible at the discretion of the physician and with individual risk assessment and decision of the person willing to be vaccinated after careful information", the decision states. 

"Every suspicion will be investigated".

The STIKO's recommendations are based on findings that experts have gathered in recent weeks about very rare but very severe cases of cerebral venous thrombosis in people vaccinated with AstraZeneca. "These are findings that the Standing Commission on Vaccination, and therefore we, cannot ignore," the Chancellor said.

Vaccination remains the most important means against Corona - and citizens must be able to trust vaccines, she added. "Trust comes from knowing that every suspicion and every individual case will be investigated," the Chancellor said. "This is what the federal government and the Länder stand for."

60- to 69-year-olds to be vaccinated faster

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed: "Citizens in Germany can rely on the fact that vaccines approved in Germany are meticulously monitored - and that the results of this monitoring are made transparent."

In agreement with the Federal Minister of Health, the Ministers and Senators for Health of the Länder have agreed on the following procedure:

- AstraZeneca's vaccine will be used from Wednesday onwards in people who have reached the age of 60. The Länder are free to include 60- to 69-year-olds in their vaccination campaign for this vaccine already now. This gives the opportunity to vaccinate this particularly vulnerable and numerically large age group more quickly now in view of the growing 3rd wave.

- AstraZeneca's vaccine is used in people from prioritisation groups 1 and 2 ("highest and high priority") who have not yet reached the age of 60 and who, together with the vaccinating doctor, decide at the doctor's discretion and following an individual risk analysis after careful information, to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca. In principle, this should take place in the practices of registered doctors.

The decision means that the over-60s can now be vaccinated more quickly, Spahn emphasised. "In this respect, I can only expressly ask all those over 60 to take advantage of this vaccination offer." The active ingredient from AstraZeneca is very effective - especially for older people.

Second vaccination with mRNA vaccine

According to the STIKO's vaccination recommendation, those who have already received a first vaccination with AstraZeneca and are under 60 years of age should receive a dose of an mRNA vaccine 12 weeks after the first vaccination instead of the second AstraZeneca vaccine dose.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn emphasised: "The STIKO's supplemented recommendation on second vaccinations provides clarity for the approximately 2.2 million citizens under the age of 60 who have received a first vaccination with AstraZeneca in recent weeks." On Wednesday, he will discuss the exact procedure with the health ministers of the federal states, said Spahn.

 

+++ Thursday, 01.04.2021 +++

With the option of integrating rapid tests into the Corona Warning App, users will in future be able to inform contacts directly via the app if a rapid test has turned out positive. With rapid test alerts in the Corona Warning App, a further contribution to pandemic containment can be made. Alongside the AHA rules, digital applications are an important building block in the German government's strategy against the pandemic.

SAP and Deutsche Telekom are developing the rapid test function on behalf of the Federal Government. The companies are already in talks with partners who carry out such tests or are planning corresponding offers. The quick test function should be available in the second half of April.

 

+++ Wednesday, 31 March 2021 +++

AstraZeneca's vaccine is to be used predominantly for corona vaccination in the elderly. At a doctor's discretion and with individual risk assessment, the vaccine may continue to be used in those under 60 years of age. "We must be able to trust the vaccines," said the Chancellor.

Corona vaccinations with AstraZeneca's vaccine are to be given mainly to citizens over 60 years of age from Wednesday, 31 March. This was decided by the ministers and senators for health of the federal and state governments.

Prior to this, the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) had presented a revised draft of its COVID-19 vaccination recommendation. In it, the STIKO recommends the use of the vaccine from AstraZeneca for people over 60 years of age. However, use below this age limit remains "possible at the discretion of the physician and with individual risk assessment and decision of the person willing to be vaccinated after careful information", the resolution states. 

"Every suspicion will be investigated".

The STIKO's recommendations are based on findings that experts have gathered in recent weeks about very rare but very severe cases of cerebral venous thrombosis in people vaccinated with AstraZeneca. "These are findings that the Standing Commission on Vaccination, and therefore we, cannot ignore," the Chancellor said.

Vaccination remains the most important means against Corona - and citizens must be able to trust vaccines, she added. "Trust comes from knowing that every suspicion and every individual case will be investigated," the Chancellor said. "This is what the federal government and the Länder stand for."

60- to 69-year-olds to be vaccinated faster

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed: "Citizens in Germany can rely on the fact that vaccines approved in Germany are meticulously monitored - and that the results of this monitoring are made transparent."  

 

+++ Tuesday, 30 March 2021 +++

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has decided that the temporarily introduced internal border controls at the border to the Czech Republic will be extended until 14 April.

The pandemic-related internal border controls at the border with Austria will expire tomorrow at midnight on 31 March. The security and migration-related border controls at the German-Austrian border will remain in place.

+++ Monday, 29 March 2021 +++

The regulations for entering Germany have been supplemented by a general testing obligation for air travellers. This was decided by the Federal Cabinet on 26 March 2021 as part of the amendment to the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance.

The new compulsory testing applies from 30 March 0:00 up to and including 12 May 2021. A negative test result must then be available for air travellers before departure. The test must not be older than 48 hours. Only those who can provide a negative test result will be allowed to travel. Air travellers must pay for the test themselves.

The Coronavirus Entry Regulation aims to limit the entry of corona infections. This is important against the background of the spread of new virus variants.

In addition to these new regulations, the previous regulations still apply to all travellers when they enter the country by car, ship or train.

+++

France, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are considered high incidence areas from 28 March 00:00. Persons who have stayed in a high incidence area within the last ten days before entering Germany are obliged to be tested before travelling to Germany. They must present a negative test result or an appropriate medical certificate to the carrier (for example the airline) before departure.

The negative test result may also be required during checks by the Federal Police (for example, entry checks at the airport or checks close to the border when entering by land at internal borders that are free of border controls). The swab for the test must have been taken no earlier than 48 hours before entry.

According to the regulations of the German federal states, persons entering the country from risk areas and high-incidence areas can end the ten-day quarantine obligation prematurely by taking a second negative test. As a rule, this second test may be carried out at the earliest on the fifth day after entry in the case of risk areas and high-incidence areas.

Quarantine is then terminated upon receipt of a negative test result. The competent authority may check the evidence of the second negative test until the end of the general quarantine period, i.e. until the end of the tenth day after entry. 

 

+++ Friday, 27 March 2021 +++

The Bundestag has determined that the epidemic situation of national importance persists. One important reason: the continuing high incidence of infection and the spread of new virus mutations. In addition, the parliament has passed a "law on the continued validity of regulations concerning the epidemic situation of national scope", so that important rules and regulations can continue to apply in the Corona pandemic. The Länder have now agreed to this.

This means that regulations that serve to protect public health and manage the pandemic-related effects on health and care will apply beyond 31 March. Specifically, this concerns: pandemic-relevant regulations such as the Coronavirus Testing Regulation, the Coronavirus Vaccination Regulation and the Corona Entry Regulation.

Vaccination targets concretised, care support extended

The Act also strengthens the legal framework for vaccination priorities. For example, conditions are formulated for priority vaccinations, such as for "persons at particularly high risk of severe or fatal disease progression".

The pandemic-related special arrangements in favour of persons in need of care and family caregivers, authorised care facilities and offers of support in everyday life are also extended for another three months.

In future, the determination of an epidemic situation of national scope will be deemed to have been rescinded if the German Bundestag does not determine its continued existence no later than three months after its determination. In future, pandemic-related ordinances, statutory orders and the compensation scheme for working parents that were previously limited in time will only be linked to the determination of this epidemic situation - they will no longer cease to apply on specific dates.

+++

"We cannot yet organise Easter the way we are used to," explained Health Minister Jens Spahn in a press conference on the current Corona situation. The reason: the numbers are rising very fast, the virus mutations make the situation dangerous. Spahn stressed that a similarly high number of new infections as in the winter and thus also an increasing number of deaths can be expected. He therefore appeals to the Länder to "consistently implement and consistently apply" the agreed emergency brake when the incidence of 100 is exceeded.

"We have probably arrived at the last part of this pandemic marathon," said Spahn. But this last part is also the hardest - for many, every further step seems like an ordeal. But the important thing now is not to gamble away what has been achieved and to persevere with each other.

Wieler: This wave could get even worse

RKI President Wieler also warned: "There are very clear signals that this wave could be even worse than the first two waves. We have to be prepared that the number of cases will rise sharply, that more people will become seriously ill again, that clinics will be overloaded and that many people will also die." Citizens should ideally only meet outside at Easter, but also before and after, as the risk of infection is significantly reduced there.

Vaccination effect diminished by infection incidence

Regarding the progress of the Corona vaccinations, Spahn said that more than twelve million doses had been vaccinated in the meantime. More than eight million citizens, and thus more than ten per cent of Germans, had received a first vaccination. The second dose has been given to 4.4 per cent of people. At the same time, the effect of vaccination is currently being diminished by the rising number of infections - this development can also be observed internationally. The higher the incidence, the less vaccination helps to reduce the numbers," the health minister explained.

15 million vaccine doses in April

According to Spahn, more than 15 million vaccination doses are now expected in April alone. The vaccination campaign will thus gain momentum. Doctors' surgeries will then also be included in the routine vaccinations. Spahn called for flexibility: All people belonging to the second priority group should now also be included in the vaccination campaign. This second group is large and includes, among others, those aged 70 to 80, but also certain occupational groups.

Spahn emphasised: "Vaccination appointments are too valuable to let them lapse". Therefore, creative solutions with stand-by lists are also needed, as they are already being used in some cases.

Incidence in over 80s decreases significantly

The Health Minister pointed out that vaccinations are already having a clear effect on older people. For example, the 7-day incidence among people over 80 years of age has dropped from over 290 at the beginning of January to 55 now. Corona outbreaks in nursing homes have also decreased significantly. These data are "encouraging" - but should not obscure the fact "that we have not yet reached our goal", said Spahn.

Make use of free coronation tests

Spahn appeals to all citizens to make full use of the test offers. Since 8 March, the federal government has taken over the costs of a test. "Anyone and everyone can be tested at least once a week free of charge and receive proof of this," said Spahn. More than 10,000 test centres have sprung up almost nationwide in a short time. Depending on the region, different offers are created with different organisations - "whether with the rescue organisations, with private partners, whether with drugstores, pharmacies, doctors." This infrastructure is a prerequisite for being able to use the tests more strategically in a next step and to link them with cautious opening steps, according to Spahn.

Adhere to Corona rules

RKI President Wieler appeals to citizens to refrain from travelling at home and abroad and to consistently follow the Corona rules: "Keep your distance, observe hygiene measures, wear masks and, if indoors, ventilate." Because, according to Wieler, the treacherous thing about a Covid 19 disease is that you can be contagious even before symptoms appear. About half of all viral loads are excreted before the onset of symptoms, so "conversely, of course, you can also be infected in people who appear completely healthy.

 

+++ Thursday, 25 March 2021 +++

The pandemic shows that Europe must relentlessly analyse its weaknesses, said Chancellor Angela Merkel in her government statement before the start of the European Council. The European Recovery Fund, relations with Turkey and the further course of action in the fight against the pandemic - these are the main topics of the European Council, which begins today.  Europe must "neither freeze nor remain frozen" in the crisis. Merkel stressed that despite all the difficulties, the pandemic showed that "it is good that we have the European Union".

Ensure independent vaccine production

The joint procurement and licensing of vaccines had also been the right thing to do. In view of major discussions even on small differences in distribution, she did not want to imagine what would happen if individual EU states had vaccines and others did not. "That would shake the internal market to its foundations," Merkel said. It was also necessary to ensure the independent production of vaccines in Europe. The problem with vaccines, she said, was not how much could be ordered, but how much Europe could produce itself.

Merkel recalled that more than half a million people in Europe, and more than 75,000 in Germany, have lost their lives in connection with the pandemic so far. Germany is now in the third wave, she said, having suffered a serious setback with the appearance of the British variant of the virus.

Room for manoeuvre for mayors or district councils

Nevertheless, the situation is not comparable to that of a year ago. Rapid and self-testing made it possible to act differently, as long as the infection figures did not go too high. Merkel stressed that the opening concept of the federal and state governments allows for a regionalised approach. She stressed that the federal order also leaves a lot of room for municipal action, for the decisions of mayors or district councils.

Use free tests

With regard to the testing strategy, the Chancellor made it clear that the Federal Government could not provide the testing infrastructure for 40,000 schools in Germany from Berlin. The federal government is happy to help - for example with the Bundeswehr - but the federal states are also called upon here. Citizens should make use of the existing free test offers. "The best test offers are of no use if they are not taken up," Merkel made clear. Testing is the "bridge" until recognisable protection is seen through vaccination. "The more we test, the less we have to restrict."

"It's worth fighting for everyone"

The goal for the coming weeks, she said, is to avoid thousands more deaths from Covid-19. It's not the 90-year-olds who are in hospitals now, but the 50-, 60- and 70-year-olds - "and these are people with very many years of life expectancy", Merkel said. For ten percent of them, experts would expect long-term consequences, which means "it's worth fighting for everyone not to get the infection," Merkel said.

Use the Corona warning app

Vaccination is the way out of the crisis, she said, and where vaccination options are not exhausted, this is not okay. The pandemic also revealed serious weaknesses for Germany, for example in digitalisation - where "we have to become better and faster". Merkel called on all citizens to use the Corona warning app. Many countries use such applications; in Finland, for example, almost all citizens are using them. "I can only say: use the Corona warning app," Merkel emphasised.

Joining forces, looking positively ahead

The Chancellor emphasised: "We will defeat the virus. Now, she said, it is a matter of pooling strength and looking positively ahead, even if the situation is difficult. "That is what I want from everyone in this country. 

+++ Wednesday 24 March 2021 +++

Chancellor Merkel has decided not to launch the regulations necessary for the agreed rest period from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. Even without the rest days, the decision of 22 March provides a good framework to limit the exponential growth of new corona infections.

"We absolutely must succeed in slowing down the third wave of the pandemic," emphasised German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. It was with this best intention that the decision on the days of rest around Easter was taken, she said. "Nevertheless, the idea of the so-called Easter rest was a mistake," the Chancellor said in a press statement. The issues involved could not be answered satisfactorily in the short time available - from continued payment of wages for the lost working hours to the situation in shops and businesses. Preparations for the additional Easter rest would therefore be halted.
"A mistake must be named as a mistake and, above all, it must be corrected," Merkel also stressed in the government questioning in the Bundestag on Wednesday. She deeply regrets the uncertainties that the discussion about the days of rest has caused. "For that, I ask all citizens to forgive me."

Fighting the spread of the virus together

The Chancellor thanked everyone "whose behaviour is helping to slow down and stop the third wave with the deadlier and more contagious mutation of the coronavirus." Even without the so-called Easter Truce, the decision of Monday, 22 March, offers a framework for this with its regionally differentiated measures - depending on the infection situation.
Merkel is convinced: "We will defeat the virus together. The road is hard and rocky. It is marked by successes, but also by mistakes and setbacks. But the virus will lose its terror," said the Chancellor in the Bundestag.

Merkel answered questions from MPs

Afterwards, she answered questions from the MPs. Merkel stressed the importance of rapid tests in day-care centres, schools and companies. The virus mutant now being spread is also dangerous for children. For this reason, she said, protection in schools must be given even greater priority.
Testing twice a week at schools would bring "a high level of safety". "It would only be good if this were already carried out," Merkel added. "We are not there yet." The Länder responsible for the local tests had said they had ordered enough tests for March, April. The federal government is supporting the procurement, she said.
To break the third wave, the agreed emergency brake must be implemented consistently, Merkel said. "That means going back to contact restrictions that we had until 7 March." She also said that the federal-state decision contained additional funds for the federal states: for example, further contact restrictions or even exit restrictions. She pointed out that these are currently common in many other countries in Europe.

+++

Corona

+++ Tuesday, 3 March 2021 +++

The rules to contain the Corona pandemic will continue to apply until April 18. This was decided by the federal and state governments because of the strong infection dynamics. The agreed emergency brake is to be implemented consistently, and an extensive reduction of all contacts applies over Easter.This is the result of a video conference between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of government of the federal states.

Chancellor Merkel said that the number of cases is increasing exponentially - mainly also due to the advance of the more contagious virus variant B.1.1.7. "We are in the third wave. The situation is serious," the chancellor said. To develop a phase of Easter calm, Maundy Thursday and Easter Saturday should become days of rest with extensive contact restrictions. The principle of "we stay at home" would then apply on five Easter days. 

Rules continue to apply until April 18

The extension of the previously existing contact restrictions until April 18 means in concrete terms: private meetings are possible with a maximum of five people from two households, whereby children up to 14 years of age are not counted. OP masks or masks of the KN95 or FFP2 standards must be worn when shopping and on public transport. Employers must allow employees to work from home - wherever possible. Private travel and visits that are not necessary should be avoided.

Implement emergency brake consistently

The federal and state governments agreed that the recently agreed "emergency brake" in the event of rising infection rates must be implemented consistently in order to put a stop to the incidence of infections.

This means that if the 7-day incidence in a state or region rises above 100 for three consecutive days, the stricter contact restrictions that applied until March 7 will come into force. As a result, private contacts must again be limited to one person outside the home, but children 14 and younger are not counted. Openings of retail outlets, museums, zoos or sports facilities must also be reversed.

Additional measures will be taken to ensure that new infection rates reliably decline again. In counties with a 7-day incidence above 100, more extensive steps should therefore be implemented - such as rapid testing in areas where spacing or consistent mask-wearing is difficult, exit or tightened contact restrictions.

Maundy Thursday and Easter Saturday as days off

The federal and state governments want to use Easter to break the exponential growth of the third wave by reducing all contact very extensively over several days. Therefore, Maundy Thursday, April 1, 2021, and Easter Saturday, April 3, 2021, are to become days of rest with extensive contact restrictions.

This means that the principle of "we stay at home" will apply for five consecutive days over Easter. Private gatherings will be possible during this period among members of one's own household and with one other household, but limited to a maximum of five people. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted. Couples are considered as one household. Gatherings in public spaces are generally prohibited and outdoor restaurants will be closed during the five days.

Further federal and state resolutions

The federal and state governments have also agreed on these regulations, among others:

- Refrain from traveling. The appeal to refrain from non-mandatory necessary travel continues to apply - even over the Easter holidays.

- Comprehensive testing in schools and daycare centers. Testing of employees in schools and daycare centers and of schoolchildren will be further expanded. The goal is two tests per week.

- Test offerings in companies. Companies should continue to allow home offices where possible. Where this is not possible, they should offer regular tests to employees who are present. 

- Expand opportunities for visits to nursing homes. With the far-reaching vaccinations in old people's and nursing homes, visit opportunities can be expanded, among other things, with consistent implementation of hygiene and testing concepts.

- Enable model projects. Temporary model projects should be possible in the states and individual regions - with strict protective measures and a test concept - to open up individual areas of public life.

The Chancellor and the heads of government of the federal states plan to meet again on April 12. 

+++ Monday, 22 March 2021 +++

Poland has now been designated as a high incidence area. The classification as an area with a particularly high risk of infection was made with effect from 21 March 2021. Persons who have stayed in a high-incidence area within the last ten days before entering Germany are obliged to be tested before travelling to Germany. They must present a negative test result or an appropriate medical certificate to the carrier (for example the airline) before departure.

Poland a high incidence area

The negative test result may also be required during checks by the Federal Police (for example, entry checks at the airport or checks close to the border when entering by land at internal borders that are free of border controls). The swab for the test must have been taken no earlier than 48 hours before entry.

According to the regulations of the German federal states, persons entering the country from risk areas and high-incidence areas can end the ten-day quarantine obligation prematurely by taking a second negative test. As a rule, this second test may be carried out at the earliest on the fifth day after entry in the case of risk areas and high-incidence areas.

Quarantine is then terminated upon receipt of a negative test result. The competent authority may check the evidence of the second negative test until the end of the general quarantine period, i.e. until the end of the tenth day after entry.

As the federal states implement these regulations on their own responsibility, please inform yourself about the regulations of the respective federal state you are entering or staying in.

+++

In future, hardship aids are to supplement the previous extensive corporate aid in the Corona pandemic. They offer the federal states the opportunity to support companies and self-employed persons who need such assistance.
The Federal Government and the Länder will make budget funds totalling up to 1.5 billion euros available for this purpose on a one-off basis in 2021. Half of the funding will be provided by the federal government, the other half by the respective Land. As a rule, hardship assistance should not exceed 100,000 euros. The funding period is 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2021. Länder wishing to participate conclude an administrative agreement with the federal government for this purpose.
The respective federal state determines the information that must be provided for eligibility to apply, based on the Bridging Assistance III. Applications and approval are then submitted to the respective Land offices.

 

+++ Friday, 19 March 2021 +++

"We want to become faster and more flexible," emphasised Chancellor Merkel after her talks with the heads of government of the federal states on how to proceed with the Covid 19 vaccinations. The "proverbial and, incidentally, also proven German thoroughness" is to be supplemented "with more German flexibility".

The motto is "vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate".  

The aim is to move forward with vaccination in Germany as quickly as possible and as flexibly as possible, starting in the second quarter. "The motto is: vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate," Merkel emphasised. The Federal Government and the Länder have therefore agreed on a concept with which, in addition to the important vaccination centres, more and more doctors in private practice will also be involved in vaccinations.

It is "not a question of either or", Merkel said, "but of both". The Federal Government and the Länder had therefore intensively discussed how the work of vaccination centres and doctors' practices could be combined as quickly as possible and made less bureaucratic.

+++

Vaccinations with AstraZeneca vaccine will be resumed. The aim is that during the course of Friday "vaccinations with AstraZeneca can be started again", emphasised Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at a press conference on Thursday evening. The federal government and the states are in agreement on this course of action, Spahn said. The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for vaccines, supported this step.

After several cases of rare cerebral vein thrombosis became known, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had recommended continuing to vaccinate with the vaccine, but raising awareness of possible risks. "It was right to suspend vaccination with AstraZeneca as a precaution until the striking accumulation of cases of this very rare type of thrombosis has been analysed," said Spahn. "Doctors need to be in the know so that they can educate those who want to be vaccinated." The information sheets for doctors and patients are to be supplemented accordingly.

EMA: vaccine is safe and effective

The EMA had confirmed its previous assessment on Thursday: AstraZeneca's vaccine remains safe and effective in preventing covid 19 disease, the EMA said. The benefit of the vaccination is clearly higher than the possible risks. According to the studies conducted so far, there is no evidence that the vaccination caused the incidents, but it cannot yet be completely ruled out.

PEI President: Very few cases

The President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Klaus Cichutek, explained that more cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia - in some cases with fatal outcome - had been reported in women under 55 years of age in connection with the vaccination than would normally be expected. However, these are very few cases, said Cichutek. And: "It is unclear whether these events can be causally linked to the vaccine."

Doctors should watch out for signs of cerebral vein thrombosis and point them out to their patients, Cichutek stressed. Vaccinated people should contact a doctor immediately if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, abdominal pain or swelling in the arms or legs four to 16 days after vaccination - i.e. after the usual vaccination reactions have subsided. Those affected should also seek medical help immediately if they experience severe or persistent headaches or pinpoint bleeding on the skin.

On Monday, Germany and other European countries suspended vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure. The Federal Government had thus followed a recommendation of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. The reason for the suspension were newly reported cases of thrombosis of the cerebral veins, which occurred in connection with the vaccination.

+++

Telephone sick notes Cold complaints remain possible nationwide. The Federal Joint Committee has agreed on this special regulation, which will initially apply until the end of June - because of the continuing high incidence of infections in the Corona pandemic.

The practising doctors have to convince themselves personally of the patient's condition by means of a detailed telephone interview. Sick leave is granted for up to seven days, a one-time extension for another seven days is also possible by telephone. According to the Federal Joint Committee, the aim is to relieve doctors' practices and to keep doctor-patient contacts as low as possible.

 

+++ Thursday, March 18th +++

The Corona pandemic poses major challenges for many training companies and also for young people who want to complete or start vocational training. The federal government is therefore extending the federal program "Securing apprenticeships". It is doubling the training and takeover premiums and supporting companies in continuing to provide training even during periods of short-time working. This was decided by the cabinet.

In the future, companies that maintain their level of training will receive 4,000 euros in training bonuses. Companies that train more young people than the long-term average will receive 6,000 euros. The takeover bonus will also be doubled to 6,000 euros. Companies can receive this for taking on trainees whose training place in the original company has been lost due to insolvency.

+++

The Corona pandemic is also an acute challenge in terms of economic policy. The German government is therefore in constant contact with leading experts - such as the German Council of Economic Experts, which has now published its latest economic forecast.

Economy at pre-crisis level by the turn of the year

Following a decline in economic output in the first quarter of 2021, the recovery is expected to continue in the coming months. The prerequisites for this are the expected progress in vaccination, the containment of the pandemic and possible easing measures as a result. Economic output could return to its pre-crisis level at the turn of the year. For 2021, the Council of Economic Experts expects growth of 3.1 percent, and for 2022 it forecasts 4.0 percent.

The German Council of Economic Experts is an independent body that has been advising the German government on economic policy issues since 1963. Its five members are appointed for five years by the Federal President at the suggestion of the Federal Government. Each year, the Council publishes an annual report. It also publishes special reports and expert opinions on selected topics.

+++ Wednesday, March 17th +++

Various new virus variants with serious changes in viral properties are spreading rapidly. In order to prevent the uncontrolled spread of viral mutations of the coronavirus in Germany, an extension of the transport restriction for persons entering Germany from virus variant areas, limited to 14 days, is necessary.

The Federal Cabinet has therefore decided that the validity of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance will be extended until March 31, 2021. Information can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

Virus variant areas are areas where there is a particular risk of entry due to the spread of mutations of the virus. These areas are published on the website of the Robert Koch Institute and adapted to current developments.

Persons entering from virus variant areas must always prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus. A negative test result by means of PCR or PoC antigen test is considered as proof. The test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before entry.

Exceptions for returning German citizens

It is still necessary to issue a transport ban to the carriers and additionally entry restrictions to the persons from the respective areas. This applies to protect the population in Germany in addition to the already existing testing and quarantine rules. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance is primarily aimed at carriers, i.e. companies that transport persons from a risk area in cross-border rail, bus, ship or air transport.

Exemptions for entry into Germany from virus variant areas apply, among other things, to the return of German citizens and persons with residence and right of abode in Germany. A complete list of corresponding exceptions to the transport ban and entry restrictions from virus variant areas can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

It continues to apply that non-essential travel to risk areas and in particular to virus variant areas is to be urgently refrained from.

 

+++ Tuesday, March 16th +++

 

Corona vaccinations with AstraZeneca's vaccine are suspended in Germany as a precautionary measure due to a recommendation by the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI). The PEI considers further investigations to be necessary. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said: "Today's decision is purely a precautionary measure. The process of testing is now awaited. The result is open.

Further investigations necessary

Several European countries had previously suspended vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The background is newly reported cases of thrombosis of the cerebral veins, which occurred in temporal connection with the vaccination. The PEI therefore reassessed the situation and recommended a precautionary suspension of the vaccination as well as further investigations.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will decide whether and how the new findings will affect the approval of the vaccine. Once the scientific investigations have been completed and the EMA has decided, a decision can also be made overall on the continuation of vaccinations.

"Give experts the time to review recent incidents"

"In order to maintain confidence in the vaccine, we must now give our experts in Germany and the European Union the time to review the recent incidents," said Federal Health Minister Spahn. They would also have to clarify the question of whether the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh possible risks. Because one thing is clear, he said: "Even non-vaccination has serious health consequences."

The decision to suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations affects not only first vaccinations, but also second vaccinations. If the EMA gives a positive vote after its review, the second vaccination can be made up.

The PEI points out that people who have received the Covid 19 vaccine from AstraZeneca and feel increasingly unwell more than four days after vaccination - for example, with severe and persistent headaches or pinpoint skin bleeding - should seek medical treatment immediately.

+++

What is the long-term impact of the Corona pandemic on family and social life? What does it mean for educational trajectories and social participation? Social science and humanities research projects dealing with the long-term social consequences of the Corona pandemic can now receive federal funding. 15 million euros will be made available by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for projects lasting up to three years.

"The Corona pandemic has been a heavy burden on our entire society for a year now," says Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. "We will have to live with the consequences of this crisis for many years to come. We should do everything we can now to learn from this crisis and draw the right conclusions for our future actions." The funded projects should develop concrete approaches to solutions. Both new phenomena and challenges that existed before the pandemic and have now intensified can be investigated.  

 

+++ Monday, March 15th +++

"We are still in crisis mode, but at the same time we have to set the right course for jobs and social security in the future." This was said by the Federal Minister of Labour, Heil, at a joint press conference with the Chairman of the Board of the Employment Agency, Scheele. He is fighting "with all his might" against the return of mass unemployment, said Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil at a press conference on the balance sheet and perspectives for the labour market after one year of the Corona pandemic. The most important instrument here, he said, is short-time working allowance. "Because short-time work works, arrives effectively and secures jobs, employees' incomes and the existence of companies."

For the long-term unemployed, however, the way back into the labour market has become more difficult. Heil therefore announced that the federal government would expand its commitment to the social labour market. "Because it pays off - especially in times of crisis."

Training pays off - even in a pandemic

Detlef Scheele, CEO of the Federal Employment Agency, agreed: "The fact that the German labour market has remained comparatively robust overall in the face of the biggest crisis in post-war history is mainly thanks to short-time work."

Coping with it will occupy the BA for a long time to come, he said. Scheele drew attention to the fact that after the pandemic, the increasing demand for skilled workers will dominate the German labour market. "Companies can meet this by qualifying their employees and training their own young skilled workers."

In order to secure a training place for as many young people as possible, all forces must be mobilised, Heil also said. With the training premium and the expanded "protective umbrella for training places", the Federal Government is supporting companies in this endeavour. The Federal Minister of Labour called on small enterprises in particular to continue training and to use the training premium for this purpose. "Today's trainees are tomorrow's skilled workers," he said.

 

+++ Friday, March 12th +++

Anyone entering Germany from a Corona risk area must fill out a digital entry registration form. This is free of charge - the Federal Ministry of the Interior points this out for current reasons. It is currently warning against websites that offer digital entry registration for a fee.

Free digital entry registration

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has identified websites that pretend to carry out the digital entry registration for travellers and to transmit the data to the authorities. A fee is charged for this data. These sites are fakes. Further information can be found in a press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

The digital entry notification is free of charge. To use the service, only the website: www.einreiseanmeldung.de should be used. Only proofs from this website will be accepted at controls.

Entry SMS

Since 1 March, the Corona SMS has been informing travellers about the entry and infection protection regulations applicable in the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as pointing out applicable infection protection measures.

Due to the pandemic, special regulations apply to entry into Germany. Since 1 March 2021, German mobile network operators have been sending up-to-date corona information from the Federal Government by text message to persons entering Germany on the basis of section 36, paragraph 10, sentence 1, number 3 of the Infection Protection Act in conjunction with section 8 of the Corona Virus Entry Ordinance.

Information and obligations

Since 1 March, persons entering the Federal Republic of Germany have been receiving this text:

The Federal Government: Welcome/Welcome! Please follow the rules on tests/quarantine; please follow the rules on tests/quarantine

Via the short link, arrivals receive compact information on their obligations in connection with the coronavirus, i.e. quarantine and testing, as well as information on the essential infection protection measures to be observed, for example the obligation to wear a mask. In addition, further information is available on the websites of the Federal Government, the Ministry of Health and the RKI.

+++

With the vaccine of the company Johnson & Johnson, a fourth vaccine received approval in the EU on Thursday. The EMA recommended the use of the vaccine for persons 18 years and older. The product, developed by Johnson's subsidiary Janssen, only needs to be administered once, unlike the three other approved vaccines.

As of 10 March, a total of 12.5 million doses of the vaccines approved so far in the EU had been delivered to the German states. On behalf of the Member States, the EU Commission has concluded central contracts with manufacturers. The Federal Republic is to initially receive more than 36 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson via this distribution key.

Vaccine provides blueprint for coronavirus spike protein

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a so-called vector vaccine. In this case, an attenuated virus that is harmless to humans serves as a transport medium (vector) for parts of the genetic information of the coronavirus.

Some body cells thus receive a blueprint for producing the characteristic spike protein of the coronavirus and reproduce it. The immune system recognises the spike protein as foreign and forms natural defences - antibodies and immune cells. 

 

+++ Thursday, March 11th +++

The Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance has proven its worth. The aim is to continue to keep the risks to workers low so that the overall incidence of infections remains manageable.

Therefore, the following measures will be extended until 30 April 2021:

- Home office wherever possible

- Limiting the number of employees in enclosed work and break rooms

- Formation of fixed company work groups

- Wearing mouth-nose protection in case of unavoidable contact

The federal and state governments have agreed on openings and the gradual resumption of operational activities. Therefore, the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance has been supplemented: the opening steps must be accompanied by occupational infection control, which includes not only individual protective measures, but interlocking and coordinated measures.

 

+++ Wednesday, March 10th +++

The Federal Government welcomes today's statement by the business community on the expansion of testing services for employees. A comprehensive testing strategy is of great importance in the current phase of the pandemic. The goal of the associations is to continuously support the testing strategy of the federal and state governments until all citizens can be offered vaccination. The calling interest groups represent companies with more than 90 per cent of the 30 million employees in the private sector who are subject to social insurance contributions.

Clarity for further opening steps

Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil welcomes the agreement and sees it as an important step towards more normality. "Broad testing offers an opportunity to make relaxations possible for citizens and the economy. The state, business and society now bear joint responsibility for this," Heil said on Tuesday. For Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, too, the understanding is a good basis for the future. "The more and more comprehensively we test, the more clarity we can gain for further steps towards opening up the economy," Altmaier emphasised. 

 

+++ Tuesday, March 9th 2021 +++

Since Monday, individual shops and businesses can open again in Germany. Bookshops, flower shops and garden markets are now counted as part of the retail trade for daily needs. They can therefore open with appropriate hygiene concepts and a limit on the number of customers.

Provision is made for one customer per ten square metres for the first 800 square metres of sales space and one more for each additional 20 square metres of sales space.

Regulations in the respective federal state are decisive

After the first openings in the area of schools and hairdressers at the beginning of the month, the federal and state governments agreed on this second opening step at their conference last Wednesday. The concrete regulations at the local level are made by the federal states.

Likewise, according to the Federal-Länder decision, from today (Monday) onwards, previously closed body-related service businesses as well as driving and flying schools with appropriate hygiene concepts can reopen. Further openings from this Monday - in retail, museums or zoos - depend on the infection situation in the respective federal state.

You can find an overview of the opening steps agreed by the federal and state governments here. You can read about the regulations in your region on the page of your federal state.

Contact restrictions: From 8 March, the rules for private gatherings will also be extended. One's own household may meet with another household. However, a maximum of five people are allowed to meet. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted. Here, too, the rules in the respective federal state are decisive. 

 

+++ Monday, March 8th 2021 +++

From Monday, the federal government will finance one rapid test per week for every citizen. In addition, retailers will offer self-tests. "There are more than enough of these quick tests, they are available, they are easy to order," says Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. They can be done at local test centres and pharmacies from 8 March. However, the offer will not be immediately available to everyone, Spahn said. The federal states had already announced this, he said.

Rapid tests and self-tests

Rapid tests, which are already used in care facilities, in the health sector or in schools, are usually carried out by third parties and are not freely available. In addition to the rapid tests, the newly approved self- or self-tests will also be available in the future, the minister said. They will be available at retail outlets.

Neither rapid tests nor self-tests offer absolute certainty, warns Spahn. Therefore, anyone who tests positive should have their result checked directly with a PCR test. And those who test negative should not be lulled into a false sense of security. It remains important to keep your distance and maintain hygiene, and to wear a protective medical mask. "Testing alone will not solve the problem."

Vaccinations also in doctors' offices in future

The Minister announced that in the next few weeks there would be more vaccine than could be administered in the vaccination centres and by mobile vaccination teams. Then the doctors' practices would also be routinely included in the vaccinations. The federal government will have the vaccine delivered directly to the practices via wholesalers and pharmacies, Spahn said.

All approved vaccines are safe

RKI President Lothar H. Wieler reported that where vaccinations are given, incidence rates have dropped significantly, especially among the over-80s. The number of intensive care patients is slowly decreasing, as is the number of deaths. At the same time, there are still too many deaths. The incidences among the under-80s have been rising again for about two weeks, Wieler said. The nationwide seven-day incidence is currently 65 with a slight upward trend. In addition, the even more contagious SARS-CoV-2 variants continue to spread.

It is foreseeable that B 1.1.7 will soon be the predominant variant in Germany. This complicates the situation. "Measures like contact reduction and the AHA-and-L rules work. They also work against the variants of concern," said the president of the Robert Koch Institute. "But of course only if we implement them consistently".

Wieler emphasised once again that all vaccines currently available in Germany provide very good protection against severe illness caused by the virus variants. Studies on the AstraZeneca vaccine showed that there was a high protective effect even in people over 65.  "If you are offered a vaccine, please get vaccinated. The vaccines are licensed, they are safe and effective."

+++

The Budget Committee of the German Bundestag has approved additional funding of one billion euros for an increase and continuation of the rescue and future programme Neustart Kultur. In total, the federal government will thus provide two billion euros in Corona aid for the cultural sector. This corresponds to the entire federal cultural budget for one year.

Aid for individual artists

In the future, Neustart Kultur will place even greater emphasis on support for individual artists. To this end, scholarship programmes in particular will be newly launched or further expanded. In recent months, these have proven to be particularly effective and efficient in mitigating the individual consequences of the pandemic for artists and creative people.

"With Neustart Kultur, we put together an aid package for our cultural landscape last year that is unparalleled internationally. With the additional funds, we are now expanding as many of the already successful funding lines as possible in order to meet the additional demand caused by the second lockdown," emphasises Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters.

+++

With the Social Protection Package III, those suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic can receive support beyond 31 March until 31 December 2021. In addition, those entitled to benefits will receive a one-off payment of 150 euros. With this, the Federal Government will help them finance corona-related additional or increased expenses, such as protective masks and rapid tests. The German Bundestag and the Bundesrat have approved the Social Protection Package III.

Child bonus, value-added tax, loss carry-back

With the third tax assistance law, the federal government wants to support families, the catering industry and businesses in the pandemic. For example, parents will receive a one-time child bonus of 150 euros for each child entitled to child benefit in 2021. The VAT rate for meals in restaurants and pubs will remain lowered from 19 to 7 percent until 31 December. For companies, the tax loss carryback for the years 2020 and 2021 will be extended again and increased to 10 million euros or 20 million euros in the case of joint assessment. The Bundestag and Bundesrat have also approved this law.
 

 

+++ Friday, March 5th 2021 +++

The Bundestag has again determined that the epidemic situation of national importance persists. One important reason: the continuing high incidence of infection and the spread of new virus mutations. In addition, the parliament has passed a "law on the continued validity of regulations concerning the epidemic situation of national scope", so that important rules and regulations can continue to apply in the Corona pandemic.

This primarily concerns regulations that serve to protect public health and to manage the pandemic-related effects on health care and nursing. In concrete terms, this means that pandemic-relevant regulations such as the Coronavirus Testing Regulation, the Coronavirus Vaccination Regulation and the Corona Entry Regulation can continue to apply.

Vaccination targets concretised

With the law, the Bundestag has also strengthened the legal framework for vaccination priorities. For example, conditions for priority vaccinations are formulated, such as for "persons with a particularly high risk of severe or fatal disease progression".

Support for care extended

The pandemic-related special regulations in favour of persons in need of care and family caregivers, approved care facilities and offers for support in everyday life are also extended by three more months.

For the first time, the German Bundestag established the epidemic lag of national scope on 25 March 2020 with effect from 28 March 2020. On 18 November 2020, the Parliament decided on their continuation, as it did on 4 March 2021.

+++

In order to prevent an unchecked spread of viral mutations of the coronavirus in Germany, an extension of the transport restriction of persons entering Germany from virus variant areas, limited to 14 days, is necessary. The Federal Cabinet has decided to extend the validity of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance until 17 March 2021. This has been in force since 17 February 2021.

The temporarily introduced border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria will also remain in place for the time being until 17 March 2021.

Virus variant areas are areas in which there is a particular risk of entry due to the spread of mutations of the virus. These areas are published on the website of the Robert Koch Institute and adapted to current developments. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria – in this case the province of Tyrol (with some exceptions) and the department of Moselle in France – are now designated as virus variant areas. The classification also applies to countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil, among others.

People entering the country from virus-variant areas must always prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus. A negative test result by means of PCR or PoC antigen test is considered as proof. The test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before entry.

Further questions and answers on travel restrictions currently in force for entry from virus variant areas can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health. The provisions on entry into Germany by the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of 14 January 2021 continue to apply in addition.

Exceptions for returning German citizens

It is still necessary to impose a transport ban on carriers and additional entry restrictions on persons from the relevant areas. This applies to the protection of the population in Germany in addition to the already existing testing and quarantine regulations. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance is primarily aimed at carriers, i.e. companies that transport persons from a risk area in cross-border rail, bus, ship or air transport.

Exemptions for entry into Germany from virus variant areas apply, among other things, to the return of German citizens and persons with residence and right of abode in Germany. A complete list of relevant exceptions to the transport ban and entry restrictions from virus variant areas can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Likewise, the Federal Ministry of the Interior provides comprehensive information on the exceptions to the entry restrictions to Austria and the Czech Republic.

+++ Thursday, March 4th +++

The federal and state governments have decided to extend the current measures to contain the Corona pandemic until 28 March 2021. In their decision, the Federal Government and the Länder emphasise that contact prevention remains the essential instrument in the fight against the pandemic.

Planning perspective through opening steps

At the same time, citizens and the economy should be given planning perspectives on how and when restrictions can be lifted again. Germany is on the threshold of a new phase of the pandemic, "which we cannot enter with carelessness, but with justified hopes," Chancellor Merkel explained after the consultations. The resolution therefore also includes opening steps that depend predominantly on the current infection situation in a federal state or region. "What we went through together was tough," Merkel said. But it has had an effect, she said.

Currently, the number of new infections is rising again, and the share of virus variants in the infections is also increasing. The experience of other countries shows that caution is needed when ramping up public life, the federal and state governments said in their resolution. The Chancellor therefore also stressed that it was now a matter of "taking the next steps wisely". In Europe, there are many examples of a dramatic third wave - "and this danger also exists for us", Merkel said. In this delicate phase of the pandemic, she said, it is important to follow the rules "accurately".

Nevertheless, the Chancellor emphasised: "The spring of 2021 will be different from the spring of a year ago". This is primarily due to "two helpers we have against the virus" - the various vaccines and a range of tests.

Vaccinations from the end of March also in doctors' surgeries

The federal and state governments point out that the vaccination campaign will gain considerable momentum. The number of weekly vaccinations is to double - as planned. Currently, up to 200,000 vaccinations are carried out daily.

At the end of March/beginning of April, vaccinations will also be offered by general practitioners and specialists in private practice. Medical practices, vaccination centres and mobile vaccination teams will then vaccinate in parallel. The vaccination centres will continue to allocate their appointments strictly according to the current vaccination prioritisation. In the doctors' surgeries, the decision on prioritisation will be made according to the doctor's assessment on site, in order to enable a more flexible implementation of the vaccinations. However, the vaccination ordinance remains the basis here as well. In addition, company doctors will be increasingly involved in the vaccination campaign in the course of the second quarter.

Make full use of vaccination intervals

In order to be able to offer vaccination to as many citizens as possible as soon as possible, the interval between the first and second vaccination, which is permissible according to the respective approval of the vaccines, should be exhausted as much as possible. Based on study results from Great Britain, the Federal Government and the Länder also expect a short-term decision by the Standing Commission on Vaccination to recommend AstraZeneca's vaccine to the population over 65 years of age.

More normality through regular tests

The Federal Government and the Länder see regular Corona tests as an important building block to enable more normality. Testing concepts are to be implemented step by step by the beginning of April - in schools, child care or even in companies. All asymptomatic citizens will be offered a free rapid test at least once a week.

The federal and state governments form a joint task force on test logistics to ensure the greatest possible availability and speedy delivery of rapid tests, including self-tests.

Expanded possibilities at private meetings

As early as 8 March, the rules for private gatherings will be extended: one's own household can gather with another household - but limited to a maximum of five persons. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted.

If the 7-day incidence in a region is below 35 new infections per week and 100,000 inhabitants, three households with up to ten people together can come together. Again, children up to 14 years of age are not counted.

If, on the other hand, the 7-day incidence in a province or region rises to over 100, the contact restriction is tightened again. A private meeting is then again limited to one's own household and one other person.

Incidence decides on opening steps

After the first openings in the area of schools and hairdressers at the beginning of the month, a second opening step will follow from 8 March: bookshops, flower shops and garden markets can open with a hygiene concept and customer restrictions. The same applies to service businesses that are still closed and close to the body, as well as driving and flying schools. If no mask can be worn during services - such as cosmetic facial treatments - a daily negative rapid test must be presented.

Depending on the number of new infections, the federal and state governments have agreed on three further opening steps. These also take into account openings in the retail trade, cultural institutions or the sports sector.

The Federal Government and the Länder will discuss further opening steps at their next meeting on 22 March 2021.

 

Corona

+++ Wednesday, March 3rd +++

The labour market in Germany has withstood the Corona measures relatively well so far thanks to short-time work. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 per cent in February 2021. A total of 2.9 million people were unemployed, about 4,000 more than in January. "These figures make me cautiously confident that the labour market will remain stable in the coming months," said Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil.

Fewer unemployed than in spring 2020

"With the short-time allowance, we are making a significant contribution to this development. In December, about 2.4 million employees were on short-time work. The numbers have risen slightly in the current lockdown, but we are still well below the highs of spring 2020." Read more in our detailed article on the labour market. 

 

+++ Tuesday, March 2nd +++

The Corona pandemic has threatened the existence of numerous non-profit institutions for children and youth education. These include, for example, youth hostels, school hostels, youth education centres and initiatives for family camps.

This is why Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey has extended the special programme for non-profit child and youth education institutions. 100 million euros are thus available for 2021. Last year, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs had already supported these non-profit institutions with a short-term 100 million euro special programme.

"Youth hostels, school hostels, family holiday centres or youth education centres are important components of our social infrastructure and a special treasure that we must preserve," Giffey explained. When travelling and meeting in larger groups are possible again, our society will need these places of encounter more urgently than ever, she emphasised.

Submit applications from now on

The new edition of the special programme is intended to alleviate financial hardship for non-profit overnight accommodation facilities in the field of children's and youth education in the period from the beginning of January to the end of June 2021. Applications can be submitted from now until 28 March 2021.

+++

Since March 1st, visits to the hairdresser's have been possible again nationwide - under corresponding hygiene conditions. For example, access must be controlled with reservations and surgical or FFP masks must be worn.

The opening of hairdressing establishments had been envisaged by the federal and state governments in their recent meeting to combat the Corona pandemic. This was also done against the background of the importance of hairdressers for personal hygiene and the fact that they had already been closed for some time. Significant sections of the population depend on visiting hairdressers, especially the elderly, they said.

+++

The first time the Corona warning app is called up after the update to version 1.13, a pop-up window opens in which users can activate a data donation. Once activated, the app transmits to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) whether there is a red or a green tile, i.e. a low or increased risk. Users also have the option of specifying their federal state, district and age in the app settings.

This enables the RKI experts to establish a possible connection between warnings and local incidence. The voluntary donation of data by users can help to evaluate the effectiveness of the app and improve it further.

No conclusions about individual persons

As soon as data donation is activated, the released data is automatically transmitted in the background. Of course, the release for data donation can be deactivated in the app settings at any time. It is also important that the data donation does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about individual persons, so that the privacy of the user is protected.

Link to RKI survey in case of increased risk

If a red tile is displayed in the app, those affected will in future automatically receive a link to a survey by the RKI. The purpose of the survey is to analyse and better understand the effectiveness of the app by allowing experts to learn more about users' behaviour before the risk calculation and their planned behaviour afterwards. Based on this feedback, the Corona warning app can be further improved.

 

+++ Monday, March 1st +++

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) classified the French department of Moselle near the border as a so-called virus variant area as of 00:00 on 2 March. Virus variant areas are areas in which a particularly high risk of infection with the coronavirus has been identified because certain novel and more dangerous variants of the coronavirus have become widespread in this risk area.

In order to protect against the spread of viral mutations, persons entering Germany from the Département Moselle must be able to prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus as of 2 March. A negative test result by means of PCR or PoC antigen test is considered as proof. The federal and state police forces will intensify controls.

Further information on this topic is available on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Health.

+++

Due to the pandemic, there are special regulations for entering Germany. From 1 March 2021, German mobile network operators will send up-to-date corona information from the Federal Government to persons entering Germany by short message on the basis of section 36, paragraph 10, sentence 1, number 3 of the Infection Protection Act in conjunction with section 8 of the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance.

Persons entering the Federal Republic of Germany will receive this text as of 00.00 hrs on 1 March:

The Federal Government: Welcome/Welcome! Please follow the rules on tests/quarantine; please follow the rules on tests/quarantine

Via the short link, arrivals receive compact information on their obligations in connection with the coronavirus, i.e. quarantine and testing, as well as information on the essential infection protection measures to be observed, for example the obligation to wear a mask. In addition, further information is available on the websites of the Federal Government, the Ministry of Health and the RKI.

+++

With the Social Protection Package III, those suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic can receive assistance beyond 31 March until 31 December 2021. In addition, those entitled to benefits will receive a one-off payment of 150 euros. With this, the federal government will help them finance corona-related additional or increased expenses, such as protective masks and rapid tests. The German Bundestag has approved the Social Protection Package III.

Child bonus, value-added tax, loss carry-back

With the third tax assistance law, the federal government wants to support families, the catering industry and businesses during the pandemic. For example, parents will receive a one-time child bonus of 150 euros for each child entitled to child benefit in 2021. The VAT rate for meals in restaurants and pubs will remain lowered from 19 to 7 percent until 31 December. For companies, the tax loss carryback for the years 2020 and 2021 will be extended again and increased to 10 million euros or 20 million euros in the case of joint assessment. The Bundestag also approved this law on Friday.

The Bundesrat will then deal with the legislation.

+++

The strategy of vaccinating first those who are particularly vulnerable and who have an increased risk of a severe or even fatal course is working. The 7-day incidence in the over-80 age group was still almost 200 at the beginning of February, now it is around 70, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday.

"Almost all residents of old people's homes and nursing homes have now received a first vaccination offer. Many have also already received their second vaccination," the minister said. This vaccination strategy is costly and takes longer. "But it saves lives."

Vaccination and testing can provide more safety

In the coming weeks, the number of vaccine doses available will continue to increase significantly. About eleven million vaccine doses are expected to have been delivered to countries in total. "There is still too much vaccine in the refrigerator," said Spahn. Therefore, medical practices will gradually be able to be involved in vaccination management. "Vaccination paves the way out of the pandemic. Nevertheless, it will not be a walk in the park. The mutations make this path arduous and more difficult," said Spahn. "We will have to learn to live with this virus along the way."

Increased testing could provide additional security. There are now enough rapid tests on the market to offer them much more widely than before. "With the approval of self-tests or self-tests, we get another instrument for the pandemic toolbox," Spahn said. "Caution, vaccination, testing - these are three important components for our way forward."

Case numbers and seven-day incidence stagnate

RKI President Lothar Wieler reiterated how safe and effective all licensed vaccines are. "The vaccines protect and they are the direct common way out of the pandemic," Wieler said. She said there was great new data from other countries that showed very, very clearly the effectiveness of all the vaccines approved so far. Wieler pointed out that after initial declines, case numbers are currently stagnating overall. The nationwide 7-day incidence has also levelled off at around 60. "That is why it is more important than ever that we all continue to implement the measures consistently."

 

+++ Friday, February 26th +++

Chancellor Merkel has coordinated with the EU heads of state and government on the further course of action in the Corona pandemic. At the start of their consultations, the heads of state and government exchanged views on the current situation. The number of infections in many Member States remains high. In view of the virus mutants, especially from Great Britain, some states see themselves in a difficult situation and are extremely cautious about opening strategies, said Chancellor Merkel after the consultations on Thursday evening.

Producing more vaccine

An important topic was the use and production of vaccines. The vaccination campaign had started slowly, Merkel said. She pointed out that logistically everything had to be prepared in a few weeks in order to actually vaccinate the vaccines that had been made available.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had explained to the heads of state and government what quantities of vaccine the manufacturers had promised, the Chancellor said. Because of the possible mutations, she said, one must be prepared to carry out corona vaccinations for years, as with the flu vaccination.

In this context, the EU Commission has set up a task force under the leadership of EU Commissioner Breton, Merkel continued. The question here is "how production capacities can be created along the entire supply chain, if possible within the EU, in order to produce vaccines", Merkel explained.

In addition, the authority wants to create the so-called HERA Incubator. It is intended to bring together research, industry and authorities in order to be able to react more decisively to variants. to challenges. The Commission will develop the corresponding institutional model here in the coming months. All heads of state and government had supported this.

Maintaining the internal market as far as possible

With regard to the mutated variants of the virus, the Heads of State and Government also discussed entry restrictions and border controls. Germany and other Member States had taken these measures to contain the entry of virus variants into border regions with a high incidence of infection.

"I explained for Germany that in certain cases - and we are not the only ones - we feel compelled to also introduce certain restrictions if there are either high-incidence or mutation areas." However, he said, every effort is being made to make the free movement of goods possible and, for example, to enable commuters to work through testing.

Digital proof of vaccination

The European Council also discussed the Europe-wide introduction of a digital vaccination certificate. "Here, everyone agrees that we need something like this," said the Chancellor.

Merkel expects the EU states to have developed digital vaccination cards within three months and the Commission to have created the technical requirements. These vaccination cards would be compatible with each other via the so-called European level gateway, she explained. "This will make it possible to travel with more information within the European Union" and perhaps it would also become the basis for entries from third countries into the European Union.

In the circle of the 27 governments, she said, it was agreed that this vaccination passport for travelling was not at all important at the moment, given the low vaccination numbers. However, preparations must be made. Moreover, the vaccination certificate alone could not determine who could travel. Tests could also contribute to this.

Discussions on security and defence

On Friday morning, the heads of state and government will continue their consultations. They will again discuss EU-Nato cooperation in a video conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

In addition, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, will join them and report on the current state of work on the Strategic Compass. This sets the direction for future EU action in the field of security and defence.

The leaders will also discuss how to strengthen the EU's resilience, especially against cyber attacks and hybrid threats.

EU leaders will also discuss relations with the Southern Neighbourhood. Building on the European Council conclusions adopted on this in December 2020, the discussion will resume on Friday.

Together against Corona - why is that important? The Corona pandemic is a challenge across national borders. This is especially true in the EU as an area without internal borders. Only through close pan-European cooperation can the pandemic be successfully contained. It is therefore important that member states closely coordinate joint action.

EU cooperation on security and defence - why is this important? The number of conflicts in the EU's neighbourhood has increased. No country in the EU can tackle these challenges alone. It is therefore important that EU member states work closely together on security and defence policy. If the EU contributes to stability in the region, people's lives will also become safer.

+++

The German government wants to effectively combat the pandemic with a comprehensive vaccination programme for the entire population. To this end, a Vaccine Production Task Force has been set up to coordinate the timely production and distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus. The task of the new task force is to counteract any bottlenecks in vaccine production in cooperation with the companies concerned. The Vaccine Production Task Force also serves as a point of contact for industry and the EU.

Sufficient vaccine for all citizens

The Vaccine Production Taskforce, set up by the Ministries of Health, Finance and Economic Affairs, aims to advance three main objectives:

- Support the production processes to provide the required vaccine doses for all vaccine-ready citizens in 2021,

- flank the establishment of a sufficient industrial structure to supply the population in Germany with vaccines,

- contribute to securing Germany as a research and production location for vaccine production throughout the EU.

The task force is to report to a committee of state secretaries, which has also been newly established and is headed by Andreas Feicht, State Secretary for Economic Affairs. The task force itself will be headed by Christoph Krupp, Director of the Federal Real Estate Agency.

 

+++ Thursday, February 25th +++

The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has granted the first special approvals for three antigen tests that can be used by laypersons as self-tests. For all tests, the samples must be taken by swabbing the anterior nasal region.

The BfArM has the option of granting temporary approval for medical devices that have not undergone a regular assessment procedure for CE marking. This is the case if it is in the interest of health protection. The CE mark means that a manufacturer must prove through a defined assessment procedure that his product meets all EU-wide requirements for safety, health protection and environmental protection. This is a prerequisite for marketing products in the EU.

The self-tests have a higher error rate than the PCR tests. Therefore, after every positive self-test, a PCR test should always be done for confirmation. For Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, it is important that the lay self-tests have been properly tested in an approval procedure such as this. He expects further approvals by the BfArM in the near future. For him, it is not enough for the manufacturers to sign a piece of paper saying that the tests are good. He wants proven good quality.

"Corona doesn't just give up, but we have more means to deal with it every day and testing makes an important contribution to that," the Federal Health Minister said in the German Bundestag on Wednesday.

+++

As of Wednesday, 24 February, employees in day-care centres, in child day-care, in primary and special schools can be vaccinated in the respective federal states. The corresponding ordinance thus comes into force. "This provides additional safety in an environment where spacing and masking are not always possible," Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Twitter.

In addition, vaccinations of police officers have started or will start soon in some federal states. Information on the vaccination centres in your region and on how to make an appointment can be found on the information pages of your federal state. As a result, those persons who are exposed to a very high occupational risk of exposure and those who occupy a key position in central areas of public services and for the maintenance of central state functions are now entitled to vaccination as a further group of persons to be vaccinated as a priority.

 

+++ Wednesday February 24th+++

Partly because of the virus variants with an increased risk of infection, the time span for filtering out short contacts has been reduced from ten to five minutes in the Corona warning app since Tuesday. What this means - an overview.

What changes have been made to the Corona warning app?

A contact between two people is now already taken into account after five minutes and not, as was previously the case, only after an encounter of at least ten minutes. This adjustment has been made after extensive tests by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits. By adjusting the epidemiological model of the risk calculation, the experts expect a moderate increase in the recorded low-risk encounters, which are marked "green" in the app. Users of the Corona warning app who are out and about more often will therefore again have slightly more low-risk encounters displayed in their app than those who stay at home.

Since the end of 2020, the Corona Warning app has been using the interface further developed by Google and Apple, the so-called Exposure Notification Framework Version 2 (ENF V2). This has enabled the developers to improve the risk calculation: Encounters with low risk (green warning) are filtered better since then.

What effects does the adaptation have?

The result is that actually relevant contacts with Covid-19 infected persons can be recognised even more precisely and are subsequently displayed in the app as encounters with increased risk. A slight increase in "red" warnings is expected. The reason for this is that under ENF V2, average values for all encounters with another device during the course of the day are no longer considered, but rather a 30-minute time window. Several "green" encounters can therefore lead to a red status overall. Read more explanations about the technical background of the risk calculation under ENF V2 on the Corona Warning App page.

In recent weeks, the Fraunhofer Institute has conducted extensive tests as part of its accompanying investigations. In the process, the details of the time recording and the distance estimation by Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) - on which the risk calculation of the Corona warning app is based - were tested under the further developed interface (ENF V2) in various situations.

According to which criteria are possible risk encounters evaluated?

For an encounter to be assessed as a possible risk encounter by the Corona Warning App, it must have been epidemiologically relevant. This means that there must have been a risk of infection. The Bluetooth technology with which the app works makes it possible to work with two parameters: the duration of an encounter and the distance between the users. Both are calculated with the help of various measurements and a threshold value is stored.

If an encounter occurs, short-lived random codes are exchanged between the users concerned. These random codes are stored for 14 days exclusively on the smartphones of the users concerned who have met and are matched with so-called positive identifiers of Corona-positive tested persons directly on the person's smartphone.

Three different statuses

For the app, encounters with a Corona-positive tested person who exceeds a threshold of different readings are considered risk encounters. People using the app are shown their risk status depending on these values. There are three statuses:

- Low risk: The person is informed that the risk check of their encounter record did not reveal any encounters with proven corona-positive tested persons or that any encounters were not above the defined threshold. The person is informed about generally applicable distance regulations and hygiene recommendations.

- Increased risk: The person is informed that the risk review of their encounter record has revealed an increased risk of infection due to encounters with at least one Corona-positive tested person within the past 14 days. The person is advised to go home if possible or to stay at home and to contact their GP, the medical on-call service on 116117 or the public health department to discuss further action.

- Unknown risk: If the risk identification was not activated long enough by the person, no risk of infection could be calculated at this time. The person receives the status display "unknown risk". At the latest 24 hours after installation, a risk determination is possible, so that the status display will switch from "unknown" to "low" or "increased".

+++

In the summer of 2020, the proportion of very lonely people aged 46 to 90 was just under 14 percent, 1.5 times higher than in previous years. This was the result of a survey conducted by the German Centre of Gerontology (DZA) in June/July 2020 as part of the German Ageing Survey (DEAS) on behalf of the BMFSFJ. People between the ages of 46 and 90 living at home were surveyed.

"Loneliness has become an issue especially in pandemic times. This is true for everyone. But older people in particular who suffer from loneliness are often not seen," said Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey.

Measures against loneliness

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) has for some time now been promoting various services that help to prevent and combat loneliness. These range from multi-generation houses and telephone counselling to newly launched model projects against loneliness. They also include the federal model programme to strengthen the participation of older people with funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and a model project of the Malteser Hilfsdienst for contact and community in old age.

+++

The spread of the coronavirus has led to restrictions in many areas of private and economic life. The law to mitigate the consequences of the Corona pandemic in insolvency law initially applied until 31 January 2021. In the meantime, the suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency has been extended until the end of April 2021. This will cushion the consequences of the pandemic for the economy.

Financial aid must be used

The extension will benefit debtors who are entitled to financial aid from the Corona aid programmes that have been set up and whose payment is still outstanding. The basic prerequisite is that the aid is applied for by 28 February 2021 and that the aid that can be obtained is suitable for eliminating insolvency maturity. However, the filing of an application is exceptionally not relevant if it is not possible to apply for the assistance by 28 February 2021 for legal or factual reasons. In these cases, the eligibility to apply is to be taken into account.

Difficulties must be pandemic-related

However, the suspension of the obligation to apply for aid only applies if the crisis is pandemic-related and payment of the aid can be expected. Finally, the state funds must give the company a chance to survive.

The new regulations have come into force retroactively and have thus seamlessly followed the existing law.

 

+++ Tuesday, February 23rd+++

Where does my data go? Who am I giving it to right now? How does it happen that I get advertising that seems to be tailored to me? - It is important that citizens understand what is happening in the digital world, explains German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the virtual discussion "Initiative Digitale Bildung" on Monday. Especially in times of the pandemic, it has become clear that our lives have become more digital, the Chancellor said in advance in the podcast.

"We want to make it clear that digital education is not just something for schools or universities, but that we want to address people of all ages," said the Chancellor. The initiative aims to bring this together into an education platform that guarantees security for users.

Digital education offers many opportunities, but also challenges, Merkel said. On the one hand, teaching can be made more interactive and more individually tailored to students. On the other hand, it is important that basic skills continue to be strengthened. With the flood of data available today, teaching could provide orientation. In addition to Chancellor Merkel and Federal Education Minister Karliczek, representatives of various educational institutions of the Länder and municipalities took part in the discussion.

 

+++ Monday, February 22nd +++

"If they get the opportunity to be vaccinated: Use it" - with this appeal, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn ended a two-hour online discussion around the Corona vaccination. Together with RKI head Lothar Wieler, PEI president Klaus Cichutek, STIKO chairman Thomas Mertens and the deputy head of a Berlin vaccination centre, Franzi von Kempis, he answered a wide range of questions about the important topic of vaccination.

Spahn emphasised that Germany is currently in a "really difficult phase" of the pandemic. Many are tired after twelve months, "a child who is ten years old has now spent a tenth of his life in the pandemic". On the one hand, he said, there are decreasing numbers of infections, but on the other hand, the virus variants are emerging. Vaccination gives confidence, he said, and the goal is clear: "We want to get back to our normal lives."

Spahn expects that educators and primary school teachers will be prioritised and vaccinated in the foreseeable future. This is important for society, he said. STIKO chairman Mertens explained the reasons for the prioritisation. The proposed order was not based on the risk of infection, but on the risk of a severe course of the disease. Nevertheless, occupational groups with a high risk of infection were also considered.

Klaus Cichutek, President of the PEI, explained in detail how the approved vaccines work and also commented on the topic of side effects. Vaccinations are the "game changer" in the pandemic. All approved vaccines are effective and safe. Spahn emphasised that this also applies to the vaccine of the company AstraZeneca: "70 per cent effectiveness does not mean that 30 per cent of the people are not protected. AstraZeneca improves protection against severe COVID-19 for all vaccinated people."

RKI head Lothar Wieler stressed that the virus will not disappear. To achieve basic immunity, there would be two options: Either go through an infection yourself or get vaccinated - "Vaccination is the much more pleasant option," Wieler said. The current measures, such as wearing a mask and contact restrictions, would have to be maintained for a while. The behaviour of each individual is a "set screw" in the pandemic and can make a big difference.

Franzi von Kempis is the deputy head of a vaccination centre in Berlin and reported on her practical work in the field. She perceives a positive and grateful mood among the people who have received a vaccination at her centre. She made it clear that no vaccines were destroyed in her vaccination centre.

+++

After the virtual G7 meetings on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of international cooperation in the fight against the Corona pandemic. The pandemic will only be defeated "when everyone in the world has been vaccinated". As long as infections occur on a large scale, the virus could mutate and then the situation could arise again and again, weakening the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Germany will provide additional funding of 1.5 billion euros for the international fight against the Corona pandemic. "However, it is important to us that not only money but also vaccine arrives," Merkel explained. She said it was about the Covax initiative being able to make contracts and get vaccines very quickly.

Covax is the vaccine pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). This was launched by the World Health Organisation together with other global actors with the aim of advancing the development, production and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for Covid-19 worldwide. Germany is the largest donor in this context, ahead of the US and the UK, Chancellor Merkel said. A total of 10.3 billion US dollars had been pledged for the ACT-A, 7.5 billion of which came from the G7 countries.

+++

Currently, 18-64 year olds in group 1 ("highest priority") can get vaccinated with AstraZeneca's vaccine - a highly effective and safe vaccine and one of three preparations currently licensed in the European Union.

Most importantly, the vaccine prevents COVID-19 disease in the majority of cases. And most importantly: if a vaccinated person does get sick, it prevents severe courses. No participant in the registration trials had to be hospitalised. This is the result of a current summary of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine from AstraZeneca, which was published by the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI).

The vaccine from AstraZeneca has passed a regular, non-abbreviated approval procedure of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and therefore all prescribed safety and efficacy tests - just like the other two vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna that have been approved so far.

According to studies, the vaccine's efficacy is 70 percent and thus far above the required approval value of 50 percent. This is admittedly a slightly lower efficacy than the other two vaccines approved so far. However, this does not change the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and protects against severe disease.

What does 70 per cent efficacy mean? The value does not refer to the protection of the individual vaccinated - but to the risk of disease from a group of vaccinated people compared to a group of non-vaccinated people with a comparable risk of infection. Thus, an efficacy of 70 percent does not mean 70 percent protection of the vaccinated, but that 70 percent of the cases are prevented that would occur without vaccination.

In principle, vaccination reactions are always possible. These include, for example, pain at the injection site, headaches or fatigue - they occur relatively often after a vaccination. But they are short-lived, and they are also a natural sign of the body's immune response to the vaccination.

The PEI constantly monitors vaccination reactions for all approved vaccines. Complications are systematically recorded and evaluated in order to be able to react.

 

+++ Thursday, February 18th +++

The virus mutations continue to spread, especially the variant that was first detected in Great Britain. While this mutant accounted for a share of just under 6 percent a fortnight ago, a good 22 percent of new infections are now attributable to this virus mutation.

This was pointed out by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on Wednesday at a press conference on the current Corona situation. For him, it is "encouraging" that the number of new infections is falling overall, although the proportion of virus mutants is increasing at the same time. "Our protective measures are working," said Spahn. "It should and must only now remain so. That also means, therefore, we have to be very careful with regard to mutations when we slowly leave the lockdown now."

More free testing for everyone from March

Testing is an important tool for the health minister in the pandemic. Significantly more rapid antigen tests are now available - "in sufficient numbers and of sufficient quality." Therefore, the already existing testing strategy could now be expanded. From March, the minister wants to make more free tests available to everyone, for example in community test centres or pharmacies. So far, rapid tests are used in old people's and nursing homes, in clinics and after cases of infection, for example, also in schools - currently only by trained staff.

Lay self-tests are also expected to be available soon - in the next few weeks. For the Federal Minister of Health, this is good news, because the more people can be warned whether they are infected or not, the better. But: PCR tests remain the gold standard. "They provide the most reliable results," said Spahn. 

Vaccination campaign can gain momentum

Meanwhile, more than 700,000 nursing home residents have been vaccinated, 460,000 of them for the second time. Since not all of them accept the vaccination offer, the minister assumes that "our common goal between the federal and state governments" can be achieved, namely that "in these days, all those who want to have actually received their vaccination offer in the nursing homes."

By the end of next week, ten million doses of vaccine will have been delivered. "This means that the vaccination campaign can now gain significant momentum," says Spahn. His wish: to vaccinate existing vaccine doses quickly - " so that as many people as possible receive protection."

+++

In order to prevent an unchecked spread of viral mutations of the coronavirus in Germany, it is necessary to extend the transport restriction of persons entering Germany from virus variant areas to 14 days. The Federal Cabinet has decided to extend the validity of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance until 3 March 2021. This has been in force since 17 February 2021.

Virus variant areas are areas in which there is a particular risk of entry due to the spread of mutations of the virus. These areas are published on the website of the Robert Koch Institute and adapted to current developments. With effect from 14 February 2021, the following have been classified as virus variant areas: The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria - in this case the federal state of Tyrol with the exception of the political district of Lienz (East Tyrol), the municipality of Jungholz and the Rißtal valley in the municipal area of Vomp and Eben am Achensee. The classification also applies to countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil, among others.

The provisions on entry into Germany by the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of 14 January 2021 continue to apply in addition.

Exceptions for returning German citizens

It is still necessary to impose a transport ban on carriers and additional entry restrictions on persons from the relevant areas. This applies to the protection of the population in Germany in addition to the already existing testing and quarantine regulations. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance is primarily aimed at carriers, i.e. companies that transport persons from a risk area in cross-border rail, bus, ship or air transport.

Exemptions for entry into Germany from virus variant areas apply, among other things, to returning German citizens and persons with residence and right of abode in Germany. A complete list of relevant exceptions to the transport ban and entry restrictions from virus variant areas can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior also provides comprehensive information on the exceptions to the entry restrictions to Austria and the Czech Republic.

It continues to apply that non-essential travel to risk areas and in particular to virus variant areas is to be urgently avoided.

+++

Solo self-employed persons from all sectors of the economy who suffer turnover losses in the Corona pandemic can now get a restart grant. The one-time grant amounts to a maximum of 7,500 euros for the period 1 January to 30 June.

The background: Solo self-employed persons with low fixed business costs can only apply for bridging aid to a limited extent - but they are often particularly hard hit by the existing restrictions. Due to low fixed business costs, however, they can only apply for bridging assistance to a limited extent. The new start-up aid amounts to a one-off 50 percent of a six-month reference turnover. It is granted in full if turnover has fallen by more than 60 per cent during the support period January 2021 to June 2021.

Applications can be submitted since Tuesday at www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de.

 

+++ Wednesday, 17 February +++

On Tuesday, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier met with representatives of more than 40 associations at an economic summit. Among other things, Altmaier provided information on the current status of aid. The portal for Bridging Assistance III has been open since 12 February. So far, about 4,000 applications have been received, and advance payments in the "clear double-digit millions" have already been transferred. Since today, it has also been possible to apply for the new start-up assistance for the self-employed. This aid of up to 7,500 euros is part of Bridging Aid III and can "now be applied for very quickly and expeditiously", Altmaier said.

Turnover limit for bridging assistance III falls

The Federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Ministry of Economics had agreed to drop the previous limit of up to 750 million euros in turnover for eligibility for bridging assistance III. In addition, a hardship fund is to be set up that will enable the federal states "to react appropriately in individual cases where the fit of the aid is not sufficient," said the Economics Minister.

In the case of the November and December aid, he said, about 90 per cent of the advance payments had now been made, and more than six billion euros had been disbursed. That is about one billion euros more than a week ago. There is "momentum in the story - and that is also urgently necessary, because those affected are in dire need of the money," said Altmaier.

Uncertainty is the most difficult thing

In the run-up to the next federal-state consultations on the Corona pandemic, joint positions and recommendations are to be formulated by industry and economics ministers with a view to an opening strategy. Altmaier emphasised that "for many companies, uncertainty is one of the most difficult things in this process". Despite the given imponderables and the volatility of the development, it is "justified that one deals with these questions".

Determined to always adapt aid measures

Following the next Conference of Prime Ministers, he said, they would meet again to discuss further measures in the light of the results agreed then. "We are determined to always adapt the aid measures to the situation," the Minister of Economic Affairs emphasised. However, if the number of cases continues to decline, there is also the "justified hope that there will be an opening perspective for many areas next time".

 

+++ Tuesday, February 16th +++

Regular testing with Corona rapid tests could be a building block to protect professionals in day-care centres, explained Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey. At the "Abenteuerland" daycare centre in Potsdam on Monday, she gained an insight into how rapid antigen tests can be used on site.

The day-care centres in Potsdam have been open again since the beginning of February under increased Corona protection measures. Employees test themselves twice a week for Covid-19. "The Potsdam example shows how safe opening of day-care centres can succeed through responsible measures," Giffey said. Crucial for practicability, she said, is the ease of application of the tests through the use of saliva.

 

+++ Monday, 15 February +++

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Friday designated new virus variant areas with a particularly high risk of infection due to widespread occurrence of certain SarsCoV-2 virus variants: Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria - the province of Tyrol with the exception of the political district of Lienz (East Tyrol), the municipality of Jungholz, and the Rißtal valley in the municipal area of Vomp and Eben am Achensee.

This is the first time that neighbouring states of Germany with a common land border are virus variant areas. Therefore, measures must be taken to contain the pandemic and to strengthen protection against infection. To protect against virus mutations, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced that entry from the corresponding virus variant areas would be restricted. Temporary border controls were also introduced towards the Czech Republic as of Sunday.

More information on the border controls can be found at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, an overview on current travel and safety advice is provided by the Federal Foreign Office.

+++

The number of cases is decreasing overall, explains the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Professor Lothar Wieler. The situation in the intensive care units is stabilising, but still tense. "But nevertheless, all in all, we are on the right track," says Wieler.

The new virus mutations with their increased infectivity have received "a boost". Therefore, it is central for the RKI president to continue to prevent the spread of the virus. We can do that, he appeals, if everyone sticks to the rules and continues to reduce contacts.

All measures that hinder the spread of the Corona virus also help with other infectious diseases. "The flu wave has failed to materialise so far, worldwide by the way," Wieler said. But other infectious diseases of the respiratory tract, diarrhoea and measles cases have also decreased. This relieves the burden on the health system - in times of a pandemic "a real plus point".

Professor Sandra Ciesek, Director of the Institute for Medical Virology Frankfurt, explained to what extent rapid antigen tests are a good supplement to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. In a study in Hesse with teachers, it could be shown that self-testing worked well after instructions were given.

Quick tests that can be done by anyone are currently on the verge of approval. It is important that these tests "have a good quality", says Professor Ciesek. "Quick tests do not offer 100 per cent safety." They do not replace a medical diagnosis, but can detect infectious people, thus providing additional safety. 

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn pointed out that the current testing regulation allows the use of rapid antigen tests. But their use for self-testing only makes sense when the quality and informative value of the products is assured, according to the Minister's opinion.The test results should be "as correct as possible as often as possible".

The minister announced that as of this week (from february 15th on), anyone with the appropriate symptoms can again be tested with a PCR test. From mid-November, this had not been possible due to the high number of new infections. "The capacities allow this again," said Spahn. "If we open up now, we will gamble away the success we have had so far," the minister said.

 

+++ Friday, February 12th +++

"We have to be persistent and patient," Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German Bundestag on Thursday.  That was not an easy request. But Germany, she said, was no longer very far away from infection figures that could, step by step, allow openings and freedoms to be restored because the chains of infection could be traced again. "To continue all the efforts and privations now once again until 7 March to keep the mutations small and hopefully get well below the 7-day incidence of 50 is, in my view, worth the effort," the Chancellor said in her government statement on containing the pandemic.

The federal and state governments had decided on Wednesday to extend the Corona measures - and thus above all the contact restrictions. In her government statement, Chancellor Merkel pointed out that the fact that everyone had been working together to combat the virus for a year now was a real national effort. It has been possible to prevent the health system from being overburdened. Anyone who comes to a clinic with a covid 19 disease will get the help they need anywhere in Germany, Merkel said. The chancellor stressed that the vaccines against the virus were a turning point in the pandemic.

"This winter is tough - but we have our goal more and more clearly in sight," the Chancellor said. She added that the aim was still to achieve significantly lower numbers. "In the end, together we can manage to defeat this pandemic and lead our country back to better times."

 

+++ Thursday, February 11th +++

The measures to combat the Corona pandemic will in principle be extended until 7 March. This is the result of Chancellor Angela Merkel's video conference with the heads of government of the federal states on Wednesday.

The contact reductions are having an effect, Chancellor Merkel emphasised. The number of cases has dropped significantly. At the same time, new variants of the coronavirus were spreading. The mutation was a "reality", Merkel said. The period until mid-March is therefore existential, she said. Until then, the infection numbers must continue to fall and the spread of the corona mutation must be fought, Merkel said.

Previous rules still apply

The previous resolutions continue to apply. This means: private meetings are still allowed in one's own household and with a maximum of one other person not living in the household. In public transport and when shopping, the obligation to wear surgical masks or masks of the KN95 or FFP2 standards applies. Employers must allow employees to work from home wherever possible. Non-essential private travel and visits must be avoided.

The next steps

Looking ahead to the coming weeks and months, the Chancellor and the heads of government have determined, among other things, this further course of action:

- Schools and day-care centres: openings in this area have priority. Here, the first step is to be a gradual reopening. The resolution stipulates: the individual federal states will decide on the gradual return to face-to-face teaching and the expansion of day-care facilities. "Masks, ventilation and hygiene measures will continue to be necessary," the resolution states. Increasingly, rapid tests are also to enable safe teaching and care in day-care centres and minimise infection risks.

- Hairdressers to open from 1 March: Subject to conditions on hygiene, controlling access with reservations and using medical masks, hairdressers will be able to reopen from 1 March.

- Further openings: The next opening step can be taken by the countries if the incidence is stable at a maximum of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. This should include the opening of the retail trade with a limit of one customer per 20 square metres, as well as museums and galleries and the still-closed body-related service businesses.

- Regional rules if the number of cases is too high: In states or counties that continue to not fall below the incidence of 50 due to their high 7-day incidence, the states or counties will maintain or expand comprehensive local or regional measures.

The Chancellor and the heads of government of the Länder have agreed to consult again on 3 March 2021.

+++

The Federal Government's bridging aid has again been extended and simplified. On Wednesday, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy released the application for Bridging Aid III. Companies with an annual turnover of up to 750 million euros, the self-employed, freelancers as well as non-profit companies and organisations that have experienced a drop in turnover of at least 30 per cent between November 2020 and June 2021 will receive fixed cost subsidies. Depending on the amount of the drop in turnover, 40 per cent, 60 per cent or 90 per cent of the fixed costs will be reimbursed - up to a maximum of 1.5 million euros (three million euros for affiliated companies). Applications are made through auditing third parties.

In order to preserve the substance of the economy, Bridging Assistance III was again expanded and increased. At the same time, the support has been streamlined and simplified: all enterprises with less than 750 million euros in annual turnover and a drop in turnover in one month of at least 30 percent compared to the reference month in 2019 can receive the staggered fixed cost subsidies for that month. The maximum subsidy limit has been raised to up to 1.5 million euros per subsidy month until the subsidy limit is reached. In addition, down payments of up to 100,000 euros are possible for all companies eligible to apply, as well as the recognition of further cost items, for example investments in digitalisation and hygiene concepts.

+++

The federal government has initiated improvements in tax law to cushion the Corona impact on people and businesses. The goal remains to stabilise economic development, secure jobs and support families.

These points are implemented with the third Corona Tax Assistance Act:

- Parents will receive a one-time child bonus of 150 euros for each child entitled to child benefit in 2021. Like the child bonus last year, it will not be offset against social benefits and is intended to benefit families with small and medium incomes in particular. In total, about 18 million children in Germany benefit from the child bonus.

- The VAT rate for meals in restaurants and pubs will remain lowered from 19 to 7 per cent. This is intended to support the catering industry during the reopening period and to mitigate the economic impact of the Corona restrictions. The regulation is valid for a limited period until 31 December 2022.

- In order to secure liquidity, businesses are to be better able to offset their corona-related losses against profits from the previous year. For this purpose, the tax loss carryback for the years 2020 and 2021 will be extended again and increased to 10 million euros or 20 million euros in the case of joint assessment.

+++

Corona

 

+++ Wednesday, February 10th +++

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the heads of the Länder governments agreed at their video conference on Wednesday to continue the lockdown until 7 March. Further decisions are to be taken at a meeting on 3 March.

Merkel (CDU) warned against a third wave. The reason is the different variants of the virus, said the Chancellor. Therefore, one must continue to be cautious. The mutation is a "reality". It is increasing, the question is how fast. Merkel said that the measures imposed were having an effect. The number of new infections had fallen. "We can also be very satisfied," the Chancellor said. (dpa/deutschland.de)

+++

Due to a further update, the Corona warning app can now also be used on older Apple devices, such as the iPhone 5s, 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Users of these smartphone models can use the Corona Warning app without restrictions from version 1.12. The only requirement for the download in the app store is that they update their operating system to at least iOS 12.5. As of version 1.12, the Corona Warning app is now compatible with the iOS 12.5 operating system, making it available for older iPhones. It is estimated that potentially 1.7 million additional users will be able to download and use the Corona Warning app. The update is available gradually on all devices until the end of this week.

 

+++ Tuesday, February 9th +++

A new vaccination regulation is in force. Slightly changed regulations on the order of vaccinations now apply. The previous vaccination ordinance of 15 December 2020 had determined the order of vaccinations and prioritised particularly vulnerable population groups, especially the elderly and people in need of care. Prioritisation is necessary because initially there is not enough vaccine available to vaccinate everyone who wants it.

In the meantime - in addition to the vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna - another vaccine has been approved: the vaccine from AstraZeneca, which, according to the recommendation of the Permanent Vaccination Commission in Germany, should initially only be administered to people under 65 years of age. This made it necessary to adapt the vaccination ordinance.

People under 65 years of age who belong to the group with the highest priority - for example, caregivers - are now to be vaccinated with the newly approved vaccine from AstraZeneca as a matter of priority. This means that more elderly people can be vaccinated with the vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna at the same time.

In principle, there is still a fixed order among the population groups to be vaccinated. However, there are some adjustments. These include these new regulations:

- People with certain serious diseases are now to be considered more quickly than before in many cases. These include, among others, cancer patients or people with severe diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

- In future, it will be possible to deviate from the prescribed order in individual cases. This could be the case, for example, if opened vaccine ampoules would otherwise have to be discarded. This means that it will now be possible to react more flexibly to special situations.

+++

Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek expressly urged caution. The laboriously and jointly achieved successes in containing the Corona pandemic must not be jeopardised, Karliczek said. But if schools were to be able to start teaching again, she said, it was necessary for those responsible on the ground to know what to do. That is why she is glad that there is now a clear and scientifically based guideline. A guideline prepared by various professional societies as well as experts and representatives from the school sector gives concrete recommendations for action.

The importance of wearing masks is explicitly emphasised. The formation of fixed groups, class division and alternating lessons as well as equalised pupil traffic are also recognised and recommended as effective. Primary schools are to be given priority when returning to face-to-face teaching. The guide also gives advice on how schools should deal with children who show only mild symptoms of illness, such as a cold.

Even though everyone would like to see a quick return to normality, according to Minister Karliczek, all those involved in the school system must first continue to exercise a great deal of discipline.

 

+++ Monday, February 8th +++

Digital education must be possible for all children and must not fail because of money. The assumption of costs for digital end devices is a pragmatic solution to enable children to receive distance learning quickly and easily.

The instruction of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs applies

- if the child is entitled to basic income support under SGB II (children of low-income earners may also have supplementary claims under SGB II)

- if equipment needed for distance learning is not provided, especially by schools

- as a rule, for a total of up to 350 euros per child for equipment such as laptop, tablet and accessories.

The assumption of costs will come into consideration with effect from 1 January 2021.

Last summer, the Federal Government increased the DigitalPakt Schule by 500 million euros. With this, it supports the Länder in equipping schools with appropriate devices for children in need. But even where this has not yet been implemented across the board, educational opportunities must be preserved.

+++

Following the extension of the Coronavirus Protective Masks Ordinance by the Federal Ministry of Health, recipients of benefits from the basic income support scheme for jobseekers are entitled to a one-time payment of ten FFP2 masks or comparable masks free of charge. The entitlement refers specifically to all persons who receive unemployment benefit II according to Book II of the Social Code or who live with such a person in a community of need. This therefore also includes (co-)insured persons in the community of need, such as children or other persons who are not capable of working. The protective masks will be issued unless there is already another entitlement based on the Coronavirus Protective Masks Ordinance.

Those entitled will receive an information letter from their health insurance fund or insurance company in the coming days. On presentation of the letter and the identity card, they will receive the protective masks in the pharmacies. There will be no co-payment. The costs for the masks are borne by the federal budget. The extended Coronavirus Protective Masks Ordinance will come into force on 6 February 2021. The one-time collection of the protective masks is possible in every pharmacy up to and including 6 March 2021.

The measure is justified by the decision of the Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the federal states of 19 January 2021, which introduced an obligation to wear medical masks in public transport and in shops.

+++

The federal and state governments will discuss the further course of action in the Corona pandemic on Wednesday of next week. The decisions taken at the last meeting on 19 January are currently valid for a limited period until 14 February.

The federal-state meeting will take place in the form of a video conference. Afterwards, Chancellor Merkel will brief the public together with Governing Mayor Müller and Minister President Söder.

+++

With the Bridging Assistance III, the Federal Government supports not only companies but also many solo self-employed persons. On the initiative of Minister of State for Culture Grütters, short-term employees in the performing arts are now also included in the aid. Some of them have not been able to take advantage of assistance measures so far. The reason for this is that they are not self-employed as their main occupation, but are involved in projects. Because their employment periods are too short, they are also not entitled to unemployment benefits and short-time allowances. Many non-permanent actors and actresses as well as other short-term employees in the performing arts are affected.

The Minister of State for Culture, Monika Grütters, has now agreed with the Federal Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier, and the Federal Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, to create an additional module for the cultural sector within the framework of Bridging Assistance III. This means that in the future, short-term employees in the performing arts sector will also be able to apply for aid of up to €7,500 for the period January to June 2021.

"I am grateful to my cabinet colleagues for recognising the very specific living circumstances and employment conditions of creative artists in response to my intensive lobbying and for adapting the Federal Government's offers of assistance to them," Monika Grütters said of the decision. This means that those in the cultural sector who would suffer the most from the pandemic, both personally and economically, will now receive a fair offer.

Due to the pandemic-related restrictions, theatre operations have come to a complete standstill since March 2020. Film production has also dropped sharply due to the Corona crisis. As a result of the pandemic, many performing artists, among others, have been largely without employment opportunities for almost 11 months.

 

+++ Saturday, 6 February +++

"The virus is not tired yet. On the contrary, it has just received another boost," explained the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) Lothar Wieler at a press conference on the Corona situation. The RKI is primarily concerned about the spread of the newly emerged, significantly more infectious virus variants. In Germany, the B1.1.7 mutation, which was first detected in Great Britain, has already been found in 13 German states. Currently, this variant accounts for almost six percent of new infections.

The still heavily burdened intensive care units and the very high number of deaths show that "the situation is far from being under control". "We have to expect that B1.1.7 in particular will continue to spread and that this will make pandemic control more difficult. This variant has become more contagious and SARS-CoV-2 has therefore become more dangerous overall," Wieler said. The RKI has presented a first report on virus variants of SARS-CoV-2 in Germany, and more will follow in the coming weeks. For RKI President Wieler, it therefore remains important that "we continue to consistently implement all measures to prevent infections."

Almost three million vaccine doses have now been administered in Germany. "In the meantime, 630,000 and thus almost 80 per cent of the residents in care facilities have received the first vaccination, and almost half of them have also received the second," explained Health Minister Jens Spahn. The aim is to protect those who are most at risk from the coronavirus first. With the vaccinations, this is becoming more and more every day. "That makes a real difference in this pandemic," Spahn said.

The declining number of new infections is an "encouraging development", he said. However, due to the new, more contagious virus mutants, Spahn warned against loosening the measures to contain the virus too quickly. We should "not now lightly squander what we have so laboriously achieved."

At the same time, he said, perspectives must be shown. "Now it is a matter of finding the right time and the right way out of the standstill at the right speed with a sense of proportion," the health minister explained. The Corona pandemic "remains an imposition for all of us" - but "even if there are more hard weeks ahead: We are on the way out of the pandemic. And we are taking this path with determination but caution."

 

+++ Friday, February 5th +++

The reopening of daycare centres and primary schools is an absolute priority for politicians if the current restrictions can be eased. This was emphasised by Chancellor Angela Merkel in a digital conversation with parents of daycare and school children on Thursday. "What I can promise - that the first thing we will reopen will be daycare centres and primary schools, before anything else," the chancellor said. In her dialogue series "The Chancellor in Conversation", Merkel was connected via video conference with mothers and fathers.

Across Germany, the participants reported on nerve-wracking weeks in which the balancing act between childcare and home office could only be managed with the greatest effort. He felt like he was in a "hamster wheel" of work and childcare, said a single father.

Younger school children in particular need intensive help with home schooling. A single mother told of the difficult role reversal: "My daughter doesn't want me as a teacher, but as a mum." Other families, reported a refugee counsellor, lack technical equipment for home schooling, but also language skills. But of course there are also nice moments in the many lessons together, emphasised a father of five children. But slowly the resources of the families are used up, he said.

Merkel said she was very aware of the "exceptional situation". It was tugging at everyone's nerves. "I would never have wished to have to make such decisions," the Chancellor said. Politicians are trying to relieve parents somewhat with the children's sickness benefit and the children's bonus, Merkel said. And she could assure parents that no other topic would be discussed in such detail in the rounds with the heads of government of the federal states as schools.

At the same time, the Chancellor asked for a little patience: she could not yet give a precise timetable for when the situation in schools and day-care centres would return to normal. The crucial thing is to reduce the number of cases "so that the schools and day-care centres can stay open".

 

+++ Thursday, February 4th+++

On 28 January 2021, the European Commission raised the state aid ceiling for small-scale aid to €1.8 million per company (previously €800,000). "We are making full use of this flexibility in national implementation and for our national Corona aid," said Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier.

The Federal Government is now giving businesses a right of choice when applying for the Bridging Assistance II. They can receive the aid on the basis of the "Federal Small Grants Scheme" or the "Federal Fixed Cost Aid 2020 Scheme". With the "Federal Small Grants Scheme", proof of actual losses is not required. By increasing the aid ceiling, more applicants can now receive aid on this basis. This right of choice is implemented simply and straightforwardly as part of the final settlement, which is provided for anyway. There are no new application requirements.

Without this new regulation, there were situations where companies received less bridging aid than they had originally expected. The application period for Bridging Assistance II, which applies to the months of September to December 2020, has been extended until 31 March 2021. Specifically, this will result in higher payments and, if applicable, those affected can also expect to receive an additional payment. "This is good news and a great relief for many small businesses," Altmaier emphasised.

 

+++ Wednesday, February 3rd +++

The German Armed Forces are helping Portugal to cope with its current dramatic situation in the Corona pandemic. Today, Wednesday, a 26-member medical aid team will travel to Lisbon - including doctors, nursing staff and a hygiene team. "We are helping our friends in Portugal, who are in a particularly dramatic situation, with German medical personnel and medical equipment," explained Federal Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. There was also considerable pressure on the German health system - "nevertheless, we are convinced that solidarity in Europe is indispensable, especially in these times".

After aid missions in Italy, France and the Czech Republic during the first Corona wave, aid for Portugal is now following in the second wave. Portugal is currently the country in Europe most severely affected by the pandemic and is suffering above all from the spread of the dangerous Corona mutation B.1.1.7.

More than 15,000 members of the Bundeswehr are currently assisting civilian authorities at the federal, state and local levels in Germany in the fight against the pandemic and its social impact. The support ranges from tracing chains of infection to operating testing stations and providing telephone service in local authorities. The Bundeswehr is also involved in setting up vaccination centres. In total, up to 20,000 soldiers are on standby in the Bundeswehr relief contingent.

Last week, the Federal Cabinet had already approved the Federal Government's full assumption of costs for the Bundeswehr's administrative assistance in the fight against the Corona pandemic. "I have always said that this assistance is free of charge for the cities and municipalities, and I can only encourage everyone to really make use of this assistance," said the Defence Minister.


 

+++ Tuesday, February 2nd +++

After a federal-state expert meeting on the supply of vaccines against the coronavirus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that vaccination was a "big part of the way out of the pandemic". In addition to members of the federal government and the heads of state governments, representatives of the vaccine manufacturers took part.

The Chancellor emphasised that there was predictability for the companies' deliveries for the different quarters of this year. She said that a distinction must be made between manufacturers whose vaccines have been approved and others for which approval is still pending. However, the statement that every citizen could be offered a vaccination by the end of the summer could be maintained.

The Chancellor said that the federal and state governments would continue to prioritise vaccination against the coronavirus. Everything would continue to be done to ensure the confidence of the citizens. The Federal Government and the Länder want to draw up a national vaccination plan in which, to the best of their knowledge, the delivery dates of the vaccines will be listed. The goal, he said, is to "provide more certainty on how to administer the invitation to people".

+++

The regular disbursements for the extraordinary economic assistance for the month of December have started. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of Economics on Monday. So far, over 1.56 billion euros in advance payments for December aid have already been made. In total, more than 4.35 billion euros have been paid out so far for November and December aid.

Companies directly affected by the temporary closures are eligible to apply for December aid in accordance with the November aid regulations. With the December Aid, in principle, grants of up to 75 per cent of turnover from December 2019 will again be awarded pro rata for the number of days of closure in December 2020.

Applications are made through the Bridging Assistance platform. Applications for November assistance can be made since 25 November 2020, and for December assistance since 23 December 2020. The application must be submitted via tax advisors, auditors or other third parties. Solo self-employed persons who do not apply for more than 5,000 euros in support can submit the applications directly with their ELSTER certificate.

The Federal Government does not only support companies, associations and institutions with the extraordinary economic aid. Above all, solo self-employed people from the cultural and creative scene also benefit from the aid. For November and December 2020, they can receive up to 75 percent of their turnover as direct aid. As an alternative to the average turnover in November or December 2019, they can also use their average turnover in 2019 as a frame of reference.

 

+++ Monday, February 1st +++

The worldwide epidemiological situation with regard to the spread of infections with the coronavirus continues to be very dynamic. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance (CoronaSchV) aims to contain the spread of the new virus variants. In addition to the current testing and quarantine regulations, a temporary restriction on the transport of persons entering Germany from countries classified as virus variant areas is necessary to protect the population in Germany and to limit the entry and rapid spread of the new virus variants. The new ordinance can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health, together with the corresponding justification. The provisions on entry into Germany by the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of 14 January 2021 continue to apply in addition.

The new ordinance is primarily aimed at carriers, i.e. companies that transport persons from a risk area in cross-border rail, bus, ship or air transport. Carriers are subject to a transport ban for a limited period of time and under the further conditions of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance. Restrictions on entry from virus variant areas will be examined within the framework of border controls.

It continues to apply that non-essential travel to risk areas and in particular to virus variant areas is to be urgently avoided.

+++

With the upload of version 1.11 of the Corona warning app, the home screen of the app contains an area with statistics. There, the most important key figures on the current infection situation in Germany can be viewed, as well as the number of positive reports shared within the app. The Corona warning app of the Federal Government has already been downloaded more than 25 million times since its release in June last year.

With its additional functions, the app offers a list of the most important information and characteristics of the current infection situation. The source of the statistics on the incidence of infection is the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The number of transmitted warnings comes from the IT system of the Corona warning app. The values are updated hourly and processed for the app. The statistics show changes as soon as new information is available. As with many other digital applications, the development of the federal government's Corona warning app did not end with its launch. Rather, it is a project that is continuously being worked on in order to correct errors that have become known and to achieve further improvements. As early as February, there will be further improvements in the app's functionality and usability.

 

+++ Friday, January 29th +++

About five million people are to be supplied with the free FFP2 masks. Those entitled would be written to by the health insurance companies and could then pick up the FFP2 masks at the pharmacy after presenting the letter and their identity card, says Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. "This is an important contribution in this pandemic."  Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said that the whole of society must be kept in mind: "Protective means, which are now necessary, must not be a question of money."

At their meeting on 19 January, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Minister Presidents of the Länder had decided on a compulsory requirement to wear medical masks (surgical masks) or FFP masks in public transport and shops. The reason was concern about the possible spread of viral mutations in Germany. So that people who live on social welfare or basic income support can also comply with this obligation, they will now receive support. The levy will be launched as soon as possible, Heil said.

+++

A vaccine is one thing - medical care for COVID-19 infected people is another. "The University Medicine Network is an essential building block in protecting the population and providing the best possible help to sick people," emphasised Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. The Ministry is supporting the network with 150 million euros.

The aim of the "Network University Medicine" (NUM) is to bring together strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19. The improved exchange of new developments in research and patient care should help to cope with the current high numbers of seriously ill patients with COVID-19 in Germany and to ensure the best possible treatment.

This bundling of knowledge, competencies and resources is intended to create structures and processes in the clinics that ensure the best possible care for COVID-19 patients. At the same time, pandemic management is to be supported by care research and the development of practical recommendations.

The network has provided the platform since last autumn, and all 36 German university hospitals have joined. Currently, 13 projects are being pursued here to improve the diagnosis and treatment of corona sufferers.

Some examples:

The B-FAST project aims to develop a platform for testing and surveillance strategy for different areas of application, such as the general population, schools and day-care centres, risk areas and clinics.

The CEO-sys project collects, sorts and evaluates the large number of scientific studies on COVID-19. This improves the decision-making process in doctors' practices or clinics, in the public health service and in politics on the basis of scientific study results.

The COVIM project deals with immunity against COVID-19 pathogens. Two questions are central here: How can immunological protection be transferred from a few immune persons to many non-immune persons? And: Who is immunologically protected from an infection, by what means and for how long?

+++

To support inpatient care facilities, the federal government launched a hotline and an internet portal on Monday. Volunteers can register there. The additional helpers are to be used to test staff as well as visitors in order to make visits possible and to prevent infections. The list of cities and counties currently seeking test volunteers is updated daily.

Corona rapid tests are used to prevent the spread of infections in facilities while enabling visits. However, this involves additional staffing. Therefore, additional Bundeswehr soldiers will initially support the facilities for about three weeks. After that, volunteers will be deployed whom the German Red Cross will train on site. In addition to people from medical, nursing and other healing professions or with social training, suitable people without previous medical training can also apply.

 

+++ Thursday, January 28th +++

With the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, the federal government obliges employers to offer home office as long as there are no compelling operational reasons to the contrary. The ordinance came into force on Wednesday. Employees are not obliged to use home office. However, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil urges them to make use of it.

For employees who cannot work in a home office, employers must take appropriate measures to ensure equivalent protection. For example, they must at least provide medical face masks for working in the workplace if requirements for rooms or distance cannot be met for certain reasons. "Workers need the best protection in the pandemic," said Federal Labour Minister Heil. Therefore, he said, the already existing occupational health and safety regulations must also continue to be observed, especially with regard to distance and the requirement to wear masks.

With the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, the Federal Government is implementing an agreement from the resolution of the Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the Länder. It will initially be valid until 15 March.

+++

"We must also see the crisis as an opportunity to become more modern and even more competitive in the long term. This is particularly about an attractive location, securing skilled labour, digitalisation and climate protection," explained Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier at the presentation of the Annual Economic Report 2021. The cabinet adopted the report under the heading "Overcoming the Corona Crisis, Supporting Economic Recovery, Strengthening Structures" on Wednesday.

It shows that the federal government has responded to the challenges of the Corona pandemic with extensive fiscal measures. It has stabilised the economy and secured jobs. In particular, it decided in June 2020 on a comprehensive economic stimulus package, which in the sum of the budget estimates for 2020 and 2021 has a volume of around 180 billion euros.

During its EU Council Presidency, Germany also provided important impetus for crisis management and making Europe fit for the future. A key aspect of emerging from the pandemic stronger together is the "NextGeneration EU" reconstruction plan worth 750 billion euros and its largest spending instrument, the Reconstruction and Resilience Facility, with a volume of 672.5 billion euros. By April 2021, the Federal Government will submit a final German Recovery and Resilience Plan to the EU Commission.

+++

Since March 2020, the German Armed Forces have been supporting the Länder and municipalities in the fight against the Corona pandemic with up to 20,000 soldiers. They are helping in health offices with contact tracing, transporting and storing vaccine doses, setting up testing stations and in nursing homes.

The costs incurred for personnel, provision of transport vehicles and travel expenses are provided free of charge to the Länder and municipalities. This refers to the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 December 2021. However, this does not apply to the personal protective equipment procured by the Federal Government and provided to the Länder, Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists. The Federal Budget Code allows the Federation to waive reimbursement of expenses for services rendered in justified exceptional cases if there is an urgent federal interest. The pandemic is having a noticeable impact on all areas of public life in Germany. It is in Germany's urgent interest to limit the damage associated with this and to protect the lives of its citizens. At present, this is often only possible with personnel support from federal authorities and the Bundeswehr within the framework of administrative assistance.

In 2020, the Bundeswehr completed around 1,300 administrative assistance missions in connection with the Corona pandemic. Another 800 or so are currently being carried out or planned.

What is administrative assistance?

Administrative assistance always means: support. Currently, the Bundeswehr provides assistance on the basis of an application. A legal basis is necessary for administrative assistance. This is regulated in Article 35 of the Basic Law. These applications usually come from the districts and independent cities - from wherever there is a need. This can also happen at the state or district level. So that everyone on the ground knows what the Bundeswehr can offer and where the limits are, there are district liaison commands and district liaison commands.

 

+++ Wednesday, January 27th+++

Medical masks (OP masks) or FFP2 masks (or KN95 or N95 masks) are to be worn in public transport and when shopping, according to the decision of the federal and state governments on 19 January.

What do these designations mean? Medical Mouth and Nose Protection (MNS or surgical mask/OP mask) is used to protect others from coming into contact with infectious droplets from an infected person. FFP2, KN95 and N95 are protection class designations for particle-filtering half masks from various countries. They are designed to protect the wearer of the mask from droplets and filter aerosols, in the case of FFP2 masks at least 94 per cent. FFP2 masks comply with the German standard. N95 masks are approved according to American standards. KN95 masks meet a Chinese standard.

What should I look for when using an FFP2 mask? The mask must fit well and fit over the mouth, nose and cheeks. An FFP mask can only provide its full filtering performance if it fits tightly. In addition, a soaked mask should be removed and replaced. When removing the mask, it should always be held by the straps.

 

26.01.2021:

+++ Tuesday, January 26th +++

In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and new mutations, special rules currently apply to entry into Germany.

- Anyone entering Germany from a risk area must be able to prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus with a negative test result no later than 48 hours after entering the country.

- Travellers from high-risk areas with particularly high incidences or virus mutations must present a negative test result before departure and upon entry. Without a negative test result, companies such as airlines, but also buses, trains and ferries are no longer allowed to transport them.

The Robert Koch Institute provides an overview of the currently designated risk areas, high incidence areas and areas with proven virus mutations. Since 22 January, 25 countries have been newly designated as high incidence areas, including, for example, the Czech Republic, Spain and the USA. Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa and Brazil continue to be considered virus variant areas.

In addition, travellers who have been in a risk area in the last ten days before entry must use the electronic entry declaration (DEA). Those entering from an area outside the Schengen area must also present the DEA proof at the entry control.

The quarantine obligations ordered by the federal states for entry from risk areas continue to apply. Persons entering the country must go into quarantine for ten days and inform their competent health office by means of the digital entry notification. In principle, quarantine ends five days after entry at the earliest. Prerequisite: An additional test was carried out at the earliest on the fifth day after entry, which confirms with a negative test result that there is no infection with the coronavirus.

+++

To support inpatient care facilities, the Federal Government launched a hotline and an internet portal on Monday. Volunteers can register there. The additional helpers are to be used to test staff and visitors in order to make visits possible and to prevent infections.

Corona rapid tests are used to prevent the spread of infections in facilities and at the same time enable visits. However, this involves additional staffing. For this reason, additional Bundeswehr soldiers will initially support the facilities for about three weeks. After that, volunteers will be deployed whom the German Red Cross will train on site. In addition to people from medical, nursing and other healing professions or with social training, suitable people without previous medical training can also apply.

 

+++ Friday, January 22nd +++

With a total of six million euros from the Zukunftsprogramm Neustart Kultur, the federal government will in future also support small and so-called  „Umsonst & Draußen „ music festivals of all genres. The grant amounts to up to 75,000 euros.  „Especially for still unknown talents, the 'Umsonst & Draußen' (For Free & Open Air) as well as the smallest festivals in Germany are an important springboard for their music career“, said Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters. She added that many of these festivals were already planning for the 2021 season, when live music events would hopefully be possible again in front of an audience.  „To help festival makers get through the difficult time until then, we are expanding our existing aid for the music sector and are also doing everything we can to help them.“

 

+++ Thursday, January 21st+++

"Life and health always have priority," emphasised Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil at the presentation of the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance. With the ordinance, the federal government obliges employers to offer home office, as long as there are no compelling operational reasons to the contrary. Employees are not obliged to use home office. However, Heil urges them to make use of it.

For employees who cannot work in a home office, employers must take appropriate measures to ensure equivalent protection. For example, they must provide medical face masks or FFP2 masks for working in the workplace if requirements for rooms or distance cannot be met for certain reasons. "Workers need the best protection in the pandemic," said the Labour Minister. Therefore, he said, the already existing occupational health and safety rules must also continue to be observed, especially with regard to distance and the requirement to wear masks.

With the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, the federal government is implementing an agreement from the resolution of the Chancellor and the heads of government of the federal states. The regulation is to come into force next week and will initially be valid until 15 March. More information on the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance can be found here.

+++

"We will drastically simplify the Bridging Assistance III and also raise the amount a notch", Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier announced. In future, there will be only one standard criterion for eligibility to apply, and that is a drop in turnover of at least 30 percent during the period of support. There will no longer be any differentiation in funding according to different sales slumps and periods, months of closure and direct or indirect impact.

The maximum monthly subsidy amount of Bridging Assistance III is now up to 1.5 million euros per enterprise (previously 200,000 or 500,000 euros), provided it is permissible under state aid law. The first advance payments, which will also be increased, are to be made directly by the federal government as early as February so that no time is lost. In March, the Länder will then make the regular payments.

The special situation of the retail trade due to the loss of the Christmas business has also been taken into account. Losses in value for unsaleable or seasonal goods are now part of the eligible fixed costs. Investments for structural modernisation and implementation of hygiene concepts or investments in setting up or expanding an online shop can also be claimed as costs.

 

Corona

+++ Wednesday, January 20th +++

The decisions of the federal and state governments to contain the Corona pandemic continue to apply. All existing measures will initially be temporarily extended until 14 February 2021. This means: Private gatherings remain limited to one's own household and one other person not living in the household. Contacts are to continue to be limited to the absolute minimum necessary.

In addition, it was agreed that in future there will be an obligation to wear medical masks in public transport and in shops (so-called surgical masks or masks of the KN95 or FFP2 standards).

In order to achieve the necessary contact reduction in the occupational context as well, the federal government will issue a temporary ordinance according to which employers will have to allow their employees to work in a home office in future wherever this is possible and the activities allow it.

Schools will generally remain closed until 14 February or compulsory attendance will be suspended. Emergency care will continue to be provided and distance learning will be offered; special arrangements may be made for final-year classes. Day-care centres will proceed in the same way. The background to these "unbelievable restrictions" for affected children and parents, according to Chancellor Merkel, are "indications that must be taken seriously" that the mutated virus is also spreading more widely among children and young people than was the case with the previously known virus.

The federal and state governments express their concern about indications that the B1.1.7 virus mutation that has appeared in Great Britain is significantly more infectious. The mutation has also been detected in Germany, and its spread could mean a serious worsening of the pandemic situation. Therefore, precautionary action is imperative. The aim is to accelerate the decline in the incidence of infection that has already been observed. The federal and state governments appeal to all citizens: the next few weeks in the pandemic are crucial.

"It is hard what we now have to put people through once again, but the precautionary principle has priority for us, and we must now also take this into account, and we have taken this into account today," Chancellor Merkel said of the decisions.

+++

In the Corona crisis year 2020, comprehensive aid and record investments stabilised the economy and employment in Germany. As a result, social spending was lower and tax revenues significantly higher than experts had expected. This is shown in the preliminary financial statement of the 2020 federal budget. Thanks to the favourable development, the federal government was able to take on almost 90 billion euros less new debt than originally estimated. Overall, net borrowing amounted to 130.5 billion euros. The debt ratio is thus significantly lower than forecast and the lowest in the G7 comparison. In total, the federal government spent 443.4 billion euros last year and took in 313 billion euros.

 

+++ Thursday, January 19th +++

The lockdown to contain the Corona pandemic in Germany, which expires at the end of January, will be extended until 14 February. This was decided by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers on Tuesday. "We must act now," Merkel said, referring to the new virus mutations. She said there was still time to prevent the danger now. Otherwise the numbers could rise sharply. 

In addition, it was decided

- the obligation to wear masks will be tightened. In public transport and shops, so-called surgical masks or mouth-nose-coverings with the standards KN95/N95 or FFP2 must be worn in future.

- Employers must in future allow employees to work in a home office wherever the activities permit.

- Private gatherings are permitted until 14 February among members of one's own household and with only one other person not living in the household.

- Schools and day-care centres will remain closed for the same period of time or the obligation to be present will be suspended.

- In old people's and nursing homes, the staff and all visitors must be tested several times a week.

- In addition, further subsidies and assistance for enterprises affected by the Corona pandemic have been decided.

+++

The Vaccination Dashboard of the Federal Ministry of Health provides a broad overview of the progress of Covid 19 vaccinations in Germany. At www.impfdashboard.de, citizens can find out about the daily number of vaccinations as well as the progress in the individual target groups. There is also an overview of the "milestones" already reached as well as the upcoming ones. A "vaccination clock" shows the average interval (average over 24 hours) at which a vaccination is administered. Currently, a person in Germany is vaccinated against Covid-19 approximately every three seconds.

+++

With the so-called Coronavirus Surveillance Ordinance, the German government obliges laboratories to sequence the SARS-CoV-2 viruses and to transmit their results to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The RKI collects the data centrally and evaluates them. The laboratories are to receive 220 euros per data set transmitted. Laboratories and institutions that transmit positive Coronatest samples to the special laboratories will receive an expense allowance.

"There is already a network of laboratories that analyses mutations of the Corona virus," explained Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at the presentation of the new regulation. But this is not sufficient in the current situation "to detect at an early stage and across the board where known and, above all, also previously unknown mutations occur in Germany". The amount of samples examined depends on the infection situation. As a general rule, at least five per cent of all positive tests should be sequenced. "The analysis of the coronavirus will thus become an integral part of pandemic surveillance," he said. The coronavirus surveillance regulation is due to come into force on 19 January 2021.

+++

Statutorily insured parents who have to care for their children at home due to the pandemic can apply for 20 instead of 10 days of child sickness benefit per child and parent in 2021, and a maximum of 45 days in total if there are several children. For single parents, the entitlement increases by 20 to 40 days per child and parent, up to a maximum of 90 days for several children. Only a few days after the Bundestag's decision, the Bundesrat approved the law to extend children's sickness benefits. The regulation can thus enter into force retroactively as of 5 January.

In addition to cases of child illness, the entitlement also exists if a child has to be cared for at home because schools or day-care centres are closed, compulsory attendance at school has been suspended or access to day-care services at day-care centres has been restricted. In addition, parents can apply for child sickness benefit even if they could work at home.

The additional benefits are billed through the health insurance funds. To compensate for these expenses, the federal government will make an additional federal subsidy to the liquidity reserve of the health fund in the amount of 300 million euros as of 1.4.2021. How high the costs actually turn out to be depends on how many parents apply for children's sickness benefits. The compensation of expenses exceeding this amount will therefore take place via a peak settlement on 1.7.2022.

 

+++ Monday, January 18th +++

The still very high number of new infections, the continuing high number of intensive care patients and deaths forces us to think about what more can be done to reduce these numbers. As things stand, it will be possible to offer vaccination to everyone in the summer. Until then, nation states must take the necessary measures on the ground and Europe must solve community tasks together. That is why the German Chancellor and the Prime Ministers will talk to each other on Tuesday, 19 January. The meeting was originally scheduled for 25 January. The Chancellor will then attend a European Council conference two days later, on 21 January. Here, too, the containment of the Corona pandemic is on the agenda.

 

+++ Friday, January 15th +++

No shortcuts were taken in the approval of the Biontech and Moderna vaccines. Professor Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, is sure of that. In a press conference, he described the high requirements for approval and the testing of each batch of the vaccine by the Paul Ehrlich Institute.Studies, he said, had been carried out with several 10,000 participants in various countries, especially those heavily affected by Corona. "This is good quality," said Cichutek. Both vaccines showed comparable efficacy with a high value of about 95 per cent. "Importantly, the high efficacy is only seen after two doses," Professor Cichutek said. Although efficacy can also be determined after the first vaccination, it is reasonable for him to have two vaccinations. The optimal minimum interval between the first and second vaccination is 21 days for the Biontech vaccine and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine. The second vaccination should be given no later than 42 days after the first vaccination.

Both vaccines are very well tolerated. However, vaccinations should be postponed if someone is acutely ill and has a fever, for example.

+++

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier expressed his conviction that growth this year will be "clear and noticeable". He said that this was due not only to the resilience of the German economy but also to the billions in aid provided by the Federal Government. With its economic stimulus package of 130 billion euros and economic aid of about 75 billion euros so far, the federal government had helped to mitigate the recession. However, according to the Economics Minister, this aid could not be continued "in the long run". A second economic stimulus programme was therefore "not the order of the day". Rather, it is necessary to invest in future fields such as hydrogen technology, so that the substance of the economy is preserved and the climate-neutral conversion of industry succeeds.

+++

Everything you need to know about the corona crisis in Germany and the measures being taken against the spread of the virus: www.deutschland.de/en/corona-virus-germany-overview

 

14.01.2021:

+++ Thursday, January 14th +++

The largest vaccination campaign in Germany's history has got off to a good start, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said in a government statement in the German Bundestag on Wednesday. "We can - as of today - probably make everyone an offer of vaccination in the summer," Spahn said. However, the fact that vaccine is a scarce commodity worldwide right now is a fact that cannot be changed, he said. The reason for this shortage is a lack of production capacities, not a lack of contracts.

The Federal Government continues to do everything it can to increase the availability of vaccines. Now it also depends on the willingness of the people in Germany to be vaccinated. This "largest vaccination campaign in our history" is a joint task. "Only if the vast majority of citizens are willing to be vaccinated throughout the year can we really defeat the virus," Spahn emphasised.

In these weeks, it is important to remain realistic. On the way out of the Corona pandemic, we will have to take care of each other with the usual means for some time. Therefore, the minister once again called on everyone to "do our part. Let's continue to take care of each other."

Spahn also emphasised once again that it was right to go the European way in vaccine procurement. "Let me say clearly: yes, it is right that we act European." The European Union and Germany had supported the vaccine producers at a time when it was not clear for a long time who would develop an effective vaccine and who would also get approval for it. "Without this help, the vaccination launch in Germany and Europe would hardly have been possible."

+++

In future, anyone entering the Federal Republic of Germany from a risk area must be able to prove that they are not infected with the coronavirus no later than 48 hours after entering the country. Travellers from particularly affected regions must present a negative test result before entering the country. The regulation comes into force on 14 January. In addition, travellers who have been in a risk area in the last ten days before entry must use the electronic entry declaration (DEA). Those entering from an area outside the Schengen area must also present the DEA proof at the entry control. The quarantine obligations ordered by the federal states for entry from risk areas continue to apply. From 1 March, mobile phone network operators must also inform their customers by SMS about the entry and infection protection measures applicable in Germany.

+++

Statutorily insured parents who have to care for their children at home due to the pandemic can apply for 20 instead of 10 days of child sickness benefit per child and parent in 2021, and a maximum of 45 days in total if there are several children. For single parents, the entitlement increases by 20 to 40 days per child and parent, up to a maximum of 90 days for several children. This new regulation applies retroactively from 5 January.

In addition to cases of child illness, the entitlement also applies if a child has to be cared for at home because schools or daycare centres are closed, compulsory attendance at school has been suspended or access to daycare services at daycare centres has been restricted. In addition, parents can apply for child sickness benefit even if they could work at home. The additional benefits are billed through the health insurance funds. To compensate for these expenses, the federal government will make an additional federal subsidy of 300 million euros to the liquidity reserve of the health fund as of 1 April 2021. How high the costs actually turn out to be depends on how many parents apply for children's sickness benefits. The compensation of expenses exceeding this amount will therefore take place via a peak settlement on 1.7.2022.

 

+++ Wednesday, January 13th +++

Two Corona vaccines have already been approved, others may follow in the course of the year. Where do the projects stand? What quantities of vaccine will Germany receive?

The vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer was approved in the EU on 21.12.2020, the approval of the vaccine from Moderna followed on 06.01.2021. Further projects are at an advanced stage. Germany has secured large quantities of both approved vaccines as well as promising candidates. An overview of the current development status:  

- Biontech/Pfizer: at least 60 million doses via the EU and an assured option for a further 30 million doses nationally.
(current status: vaccine approved)

- Moderna: 50.5 million doses via the EU, with additional doses being negotiated nationally.
(current status: vaccine approved)

- AstraZeneca: 56 million doses via the EU
(current status: all approval-relevant data packages submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for review, application for approval submitted on 12.01.2021)

- Johnson&Johnson (developer: subsidiary Janssen): 37 million doses via EU
(current status: first data packages of pivotal phase three trial under review by EMA; no marketing authorisation application submitted yet)

- CureVac: at least 42 million doses via the EU and an option for 20 million doses nationally.
(current status: pivotal phase-three trial started in December; no EMA review yet)

On behalf of the member states, the EU Commission has concluded central contracts with manufacturers.  In times of a global pandemic, national solo efforts prevent effective health protection. "We have deliberately chosen a joint approach with our partners in the European Union," emphasises government spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

 

+++ Tuesday, January 12th +++

Since Monday, the measures taken by the federal and state governments on 5 January to contain the Corona pandemic have come into force nationwide. In an extension of the restrictions already in place, private gatherings are now permitted among members of one's own household and with a maximum of one other person not living in the household. In order to reduce the high number of cases, it is important to significantly reduce contacts once again. The goal is still a 7-day incidence of less than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

For counties that exceed a 7-day incidence of 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, the federal states will take further measures - in particular to restrict the radius of movement to 15 km around the place of residence, unless there is a valid reason. Day-trip excursions explicitly do not constitute a valid reason.

The measures taken by the Länder for schools and daycare centres will be extended until the end of January in accordance with the decision of 13 December 2020.

The Federal Government and the Länder will discuss the further course of action on 25 January 2021.

 

+++ Monday, January 11th +++

Athletes can continue to rely on aid. In 2021, the Federal Government will continue to support professional sports structures in Germany that are at risk from the Corona pandemic. Around 200 million euros are available. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has published the new guideline „Corona Aid for Professional Sport 2021“. In addition to the general economic aid, the „Corona aid for professional sport“ proved to be an important building block for many sports clubs and sports associations during the pandemic last year. This is also necessary in 2021 to prevent insolvencies of sports clubs and thus to maintain an important pillar of coexistence. This is because the restrictions on competition that have been in place since April 2020 are likely to continue in 2021.

 

+++ Saturday, January 9th+++

The European Union ordered another 300 million vaccine doses from the companies BionTech/Pfizer on Friday. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen informed about the conclusion of the contract on Friday. At the end of last year, the Commission had already ordered the same quantity of the vaccine from the aforementioned company. In addition, the EU Commission has signed framework contracts with five other manufacturers, so that a total of two billion vaccine doses can be expected. On Friday morning, the companies BionTech/Pfizer delivered a total of 668,000 vaccine doses to the federal states. The vaccines - compiled according to the regional distribution key - were brought directly to the 27 delivery centres in Germany. On Wednesday, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn confirmed: „We have ordered more than enough vaccine“ and at the same time pointed out: „We must first and want to first protect those who are particularly vulnerable, particularly vulnerable to this virus. So much solidarity, so much patience must also be on the way out of this pandemic.“

 

+++ Friday, January 8th +++

The Federal Government has provided further funding for cinemas affected by the restrictions due to the Corona pandemic. The additional funds come from the NEUSTART KULTUR rescue and future programme. The aim is to support cinemas, especially in rural areas, in sustainable modernisation. Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters explains: "In many rural areas, the cinema is one of the last remaining cultural meeting places. Moreover, cinema operators make an indispensable contribution to ensuring that film has a future as a cultural asset." There is no substitute for the community experience in the cinema. In order to preserve cinemas outside the metropolises and to strengthen the many small arthouse cinemas in Germany, the Federal Government has launched the Future Cinema Programme. It supports investments in the future viability of cinemas.  This includes in particular auditorium, projection and box office technology, digital customer loyalty, accessibility, sustainability and energy efficiency.

 

+++ Thursday, January 7th+++

Since 27 December 2020, almost 400,000 people in Germany have been vaccinated, mainly in nursing homes.  "We want to protect those who are most vulnerable first, in the nursing homes, the elderly and those who care for and look after them ", emphasised Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. The days of the vaccination launch are days of confidence, vaccinating is the key to managing the pandemic, Spahn explained. However, the minister pointed out that vaccine was a scarce commodity worldwide. Therefore, he said, large parts of the population had to be asked for patience.  "Because it was clear from the beginning that we would have too little vaccine to begin with. That has also been clear for many weeks and months," said Spahn. The reason for this was not too few ordered quantities, but the low production capacities at the beginning of the vaccination campaign.

The good news is that there will be enough vaccine for everyone in Germany once further vaccine candidates have been approved, and in the summer everyone in Germany will be able to be vaccinated, Spahn affirmed.  "Because we have ordered enough, more than enough vaccine, and not just from one, but from several manufacturers. „

The federal government continues to do everything it can to support companies involved in vaccine research and production, Spahn reported. In the case of the Biontec company, he said, there had been an exchange of views with the responsible ministers and the Chancellor after today's cabinet meeting.  "Our common goal is for the company to open another production site in Marburg as soon as possible. If all goes well, that will be the case in February. Then the company could massively expand its vaccine production. „

That would help Europe, he said, and that would help us in Germany in particular, because it would lead to earlier deliveries of ordered doses.  "And that, by the way, is much more effective than distributing compulsory licences or commissioning companies that have not yet been active with this vaccine or in vaccine production at all," Spahn affirmed.

 "Vaccination needs trust: in the reliability of the vaccine, in the distribution procedure, in the organisation ", Spahn emphasised.  "I understand the need to speed up the vaccination campaign. We all want to get back to our normal lives as quickly as possible. " But this desire for protection and for a new normality should not block the view of the facts and of what is actually realistically possible in a short time. And it should not jeopardise priorities.  "We must first and want to first protect those who are particularly vulnerable, particularly vulnerable to this virus. This much solidarity, this much patience must also be shown on the way out of this pandemic," the Minister demanded.

+++

As of now, the second Corona vaccine, the product of the US-American manufacturer Moderna, is also approved in the European Union. This was announced by the EU Commission. It granted the product a conditional marketing authorisation, thus following the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The Federal Minister of Health, Spahn, said that the approval gave "additional confidence". With the already approved vaccine from Biontech and the now approved Moderna preparation, Germany expects a total of around 130 million vaccine doses - "not all immediately, mind you, but in the course of this year", emphasised Spahn. This is also a success of German policy, which "has focused on giving all Europeans, all citizens of the European Union, access to vaccines at the same time and at the same time getting and securing enough vaccines for their own country", said the Health Minister.

+++

Vaccinations are the key to containing the Corona pandemic. That is why the federal government funded the national and international development of vaccines with more than one billion euros last year.  "We need effective and available vaccines to overcome the pandemic, but we also need effective and available medicines to treat people who are already ill," said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek at the presentation of the funding announcement for the development of medicines and other therapeutics against COVID-19 on Wednesday.

 "Unfortunately, we still have to expect that even with a high vaccination rate, people will continue to fall ill with Covid-19 ", the Minister added. For patients suffering from Corona, "new therapy options" are needed that can be used in the different stages of the infection, Karliczek said.

In a first stage, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research had launched a basic research programme in March 2020. The focus was on the investigation of the Covid 19 pathogen and the effectiveness of already existing and approved drugs. There are already some promising approaches - 19 different developments have already been launched, she continued. The new programme focuses on the development of new drugs against Covid-19.

 

+++ Tuesday, January 5th +++

Chancellor Merkel and the heads of government of the federal states have agreed to extend and, in some cases, tighten the measures in place to contain the Corona pandemic. After the consultations, the Chancellor emphasised that the goal remains to reduce the 7-day incidence to below 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. In this way, the health authorities are to be put in a position again to trace the chains of infection.

Due to the recent holidays, there will be no clear data on the actual incidence in Germany until 17 January, Merkel explained. This was pointed out by the president of the Robert Koch Institute at an expert hearing yesterday. The numbers are already very high and with the mutation of the virus, which is now known from Great Britain, a new, special situation arises.

Some hospitals were „very much in borderline situations“ because of the infection, Merkel said. In order to prevent the health system from being overburdened, far-reaching decisions had therefore been taken. The current regulations would be extended until 31 January and in some cases tightened.

„We call on all citizens to limit contacts to the absolute minimum. And we will only allow private meetings within the circle of members of one's own household and with a maximum of one other person not living in the household,“ the Chancellor stressed after the consultations. This measure was necessary, she said, even though she knew it would be tough.

 

The federal and state governments have decided the following in detail:

- The existing resolutions remain valid. The Länder will extend all measures based on joint resolutions, which are limited until 10 January 2021, until 31 January 2021.

- The existing resolutions for private gatherings will be extended: they will only be permitted within the circle of members of one's own household and with a maximum of one other person not living in the household.

- Company canteens will be closed wherever work procedures permit. The distribution of take-away food and beverages remains permissible. On-site consumption is prohibited.

- Employers are urged to provide generous home office facilities to implement the „we stay at home“ principle nationwide.

- In counties with a 7-day incidence of more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, the Länder will take further local measures under the Infection Protection Act, in particular to restrict the radius of movement to 15 km around the place of residence, unless there is a valid reason. Day trips explicitly do not constitute a valid reason.

- Special protective measures must be taken for old people's homes and nursing homes. At least until the vaccinations with both vaccination doses have been completed in the facilities, the rapid tests upon entering the facilities are of particular importance. In many cases, the facilities lack the personnel capacities to carry out such tests. Therefore, the Federal Government and the Länder will launch a joint initiative to temporarily bring volunteers to the facilities to conduct comprehensive rapid tests. The Federal Employment Agency will support the placement. This initiative will also support facilities for integration assistance.

- The Robert Koch Institute is carefully examining reports of new mutations with altered characteristics of the virus, for example with regard to an increased risk of infection or severity of the course in different age groups. The joint goal of the Federal Government and the Länder is to limit as much as possible the entry of mutations with possible pandemic-exacerbating properties from abroad. In the case of unavoidable entries from areas where such mutated virus variants occur, the Federal Police will intensify controls to ensure compliance with special entry regulations.

- In the previous decisions of the Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the federal states, it was assumed that vaccination would begin in 2021. Now, due to early approval of the vaccine by BioNTech / Pfizer and provision of the infrastructure by the Länder, it was possible to start vaccination in all countries as early as 27 December 2020. 1.3 million doses of the vaccine were delivered to the Länder by the end of the year, with almost 2.7 million more doses to follow by 1 February 2020. The federal government will provide the Länder with reliable delivery times based on the manufacturer's notifications, in order to enable secure on-site invitation management.

By mid-February at the latest, all residents of inpatient care facilities will be able to be offered vaccination.

- The operation of childcare facilities and schools is of utmost importance for children's education and for parents' work-life balance. Closed schools and childcare facilities, suspended compulsory attendance or distance education in schools over a longer period of time do not remain without negative consequences for the educational biographies and social participation of children and young people. Nevertheless, the measures taken by the Länder must also be extended in this area until the end of January in accordance with the decision of 13 December 2020.

- The Federation will legislate that children's sickness benefits will be granted for 10 additional days per parent (20 additional days for single parents) in 2021. The entitlement is also to apply to cases in which care of the child at home becomes necessary because the school or kindergarten or class or group is closed due to the pandemic or because compulsory attendance at classes has been suspended.

- The restriction measures were accompanied in all areas by extensive financial assistance programmes of the federal government and the Länder. Now, the bridging aid III of the federal government is of particular importance. Partial payments are to be made possible. The first regular payments under Bridging Assistance III, which will run until the end of June 2021, will be made in the first quarter of 2021.

- In the future, for entries from risk areas to Germany, in addition to the existing ten-day quarantine obligation, which can be shortened after five days at the earliest by a negative test result, a testing obligation upon entry is to be introduced (two-test strategy). The model quarantine regulation will be adapted accordingly and implemented by the Länder in their respective regulations as of 11 January 2021.

The Federal Government will issue separate regulations, in particular on compulsory testing prior to entry, for special risk areas from which there is a particular risk of entry due to the spread of mutations of the virus or particularly high incidences.

- The Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the Länder will consult again on 25 January 2021 in the light of further developments in the infection and decide on the measures from 1 February 2021.

+++

With the vaccines now available, there is a perspective for a normalisation of everyday life and a return to a life without pandemic-related restrictions, the Chancellor explained. The Federal Government and the Länder had once again expressly welcomed the EU's joint vaccine order. The goal of securing the vaccine jointly for all member states was „a correct and important goal“, Merkel said.

In view of the free internal market and the Schengen area, it is in Germany's interest that as many people as possible are also vaccinated in neighbouring countries: „That is why we do not want to go it alone at national level, but believe that the most effective health protection for us can be achieved through a joint European approach,“ the Chancellor stressed. Overall, the European Union had ordered significantly more vaccine than was necessary to vaccinate all citizens.

+++

The advance payments for the extraordinary economic assistance for the month of December have started. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of Economics. Up to a maximum of 50,000 euros can be granted; solo self-employed persons can submit applications on their own behalf up to a maximum of 5,000 euros.Eligible to apply for December assistance are businesses directly affected by the temporary closures in accordance with the regulations for November assistance. With the December assistance, grants of up to 75 per cent of the turnover from December 2019 will again be awarded in principle on a pro rata basis for the number of days of closure in December 2020.

 

Applications are made through the Bridging Assistance platform. Applications for November assistance can be made since 25 November 2020, and for December assistance since 23 December 2020. The application must be submitted via tax advisors, auditors or other third parties. Solo self-employed persons who do not apply for more than 5,000 euros in support can submit the applications directly with their ELSTER certificate. The Federal Government does not only support companies, associations and institutions with the extraordinary economic aid. Above all, solo self-employed people from the cultural and creative scene also benefit from the aid. For November and December 2020, they can receive up to 75 percent of their turnover as direct aid. As an alternative to the average turnover in November or December 2019, they can also use their average turnover in 2019 as a frame of reference.

 

+++ Monday, January 4th +++

The fact that a vaccine against the coronavirus is available and in use is a great success story - government spokesman Steffen Seibert underlined this. "We have deliberately chosen a joint approach with our partners in the European Union. We are convinced that this was and is the right way," Seibert said at the government press conference on Monday.

+++

Highlights and key topics: Want deutschland.de to keep you up-to-date? Like to have a news alert on Corona topics? Then sign up to the deutschland.de newsletter! Available in English, Spanish and German.

+++

+++ Wednesday, December 30th +++

These rules apply on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in Germany:

- Private gatherings must be limited to one's own household and one other household.

- A maximum of five people are allowed to meet. Children up to 14 years of age do not count in the calculation.

This is the provision of the joint resolution of the federal and state governments of 13 December. The Corona Protection Ordinance of the respective federal state is decisive for the local regulation. 

On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there is a nationwide ban on gatherings and assemblies. One speaks in legal terms of an gathering when people meet by chance. An assembly is a meeting of several people for a common purpose. The aim of the ban is to prevent larger groups from gathering on the streets on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The sale of New Year's Eve fireworks is prohibited this year. Fireworks are banned in crowded places. The municipalities determine exactly where. In addition, people are strongly advised not to set off fireworks in general. The reason for this is the high risk of injury and the already very high burden on the health system due to the large number of Corona patients.

 

+++ Monday, December 28th +++

Corona vaccinations started on Sunday. The initial focus will be on old people's homes and nursing homes. The group that can be vaccinated first also includes all people over 80 as well as hospital staff who are particularly at risk. On Saturday, the first doses were delivered to the federal states. There they will be distributed to vaccination centres and mobile teams. Other EU countries will also begin vaccinations on Sunday. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed that Germany is well prepared for this largest vaccination campaign in its history: "The vaccination centres are ready to go, the vaccination teams are in place". At the same time, he made it clear that the virus would not be defeated with the start of the vaccinations: "We will need a long breath to put this pandemic behind us." Spahn said that the goal was to "go vaccinating on a large scale in the middle of 2021 and to offer vaccination to everyone who wants it".

 

+++ Wednesday, December 23rd +++

To combat the pandemic, it is now especially important to avoid contact. The federal and state governments have extended and supplemented the nationwide rules until 10 January. What applies on Christmas and New Year's Eve? An overview.
For Christmas from 24 to 26 December and only for the closest family circle, the following applies: Meetings with up to four people beyond one's own household are permitted. This also applies if more than two households come together as a result or the total number of five persons is exceeded. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted in the calculation. The Corona Protection Ordinance of the individual federal state is decisive.
The immediate family includes grandparents, parents, children, siblings, spouses, civil partners and partners in a non-marital partnership as well as their household members.
Citizens are urged to keep contacts to an absolute minimum in the five to seven days before family reunions, thus observing a "protection week".
On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, on the other hand, the basic contact restrictions apply:  Private gatherings must be limited to one's own household and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of five persons. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted in the calculation. This is the provision of the joint resolution of the Federation and the Länder of 13 December. The Corona Protection Ordinance of the respective federal state is decisive for the local regulation.
On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, it is also forbidden to gather nationwide. Fireworks are prohibited in busy squares. The sale of pyrotechnics before New Year's Eve will be prohibited this year. In addition, it is strongly advised to refrain from setting off fireworks in general.

 

+++ Tuesday, December 22nd +++

New Year's Eve firecrackers and rockets, which are usually available in shops in the days before the turn of the year, may not be sold this year. With this move, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is implementing a decision made in the federal-state talks on 13 December.
With the approval of the Bundesrat, Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer has banned the sale of New Year's Eve fireworks throughout Germany for the turn of the year 2020/2021. "Because of the Corona pandemic, many things are different this year. We have to be careful not to light firecrackers and the infection figures explode. The ban on the sale of New Year's Eve fireworks protects our hospitals from being overloaded," Seehofer said.
Affected by the ban are pyrotechnic objects of category F2 such as New Year's Eve firecrackers and rockets. It is prohibited to "hand over" such items - i.e. to actually hand them over to private individuals, regardless of the date of order, for example.
The aim of the regulation is to prevent injuries when fireworks are set off on New Year's Eve in order to relieve the strain on hospitals and emergency departments, which are already very busy due to the Corona pandemic.
Read the press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Construction and Home Affairs here.

+++

"Reduce your contacts to the absolute minimum. Do not travel," the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, appealed to people in Germany shortly before the holidays. Against the background of new peak numbers of new infections and deaths, he declared: "There is no place where you can't get infected."
The risk, he said, exists wherever people come together. Professor Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), has once again urged all people in Germany to spend the holidays and the days between the years only in the smallest family circle. He fears that the incidence of infections could increase even further due to the holidays, as people from different regions gather throughout Germany.
He therefore appealed: "Please limit your contacts to what is necessary. Do not travel. Meet as few people as possible, and if you do, then only ever the same people and meet outside if possible." Wieler once again strongly advocated adhering to the AHA+L rules at all times and in all places. He said this was the only way to reduce the number of those who become ill or die.
It will probably take several more weeks before the number of cases decreases due to the tightened infection control measures in Germany, said the President of the RKI. Currently, the situation continues to deteriorate. The RKI continues to record new highs in both new infections and deaths. "Many hospitals, doctors and nurses are at their limits. And hundreds of people are now dying every day in Germany from Covid-19."
Here you can find the current COVID-19 case figures in Germany.
The incidence of infection has continued to increase in all federal states, especially in Saxony and Thuringia. The virus is widespread in the entire population, in all age groups and everywhere in Germany. Especially in many old people's homes, there are severe outbreaks associated with high death rates. More and more covid patients have to be treated with intensive care or ventilated. The free capacities in intensive care units continue to decrease. Some hospitals in Germany are already running emergency programmes.
The vaccination will not change the overall situation for the time being. Wieler explained that he was happy that the first vaccinations could take place shortly after Christmas. But it will take a long time before the majority of people in Germany are vaccinated. This makes it all the more important to reduce the number of infections "so that we can regain a certain degree of normality as soon as possible in the new year".
Professor Ole Wichmann, head of the RKI's Vaccine Prevention Unit, said of the Biontec/Pfizer vaccine: "We have a vaccine that, judging by all the data we have, is safe and extremely effective." We know that the vaccine is highly protective against contracting covid-19, that serious side effects have not been clustered to date, and that there has been no shortcutting in the development and licensing of the vaccine, just as there has been no shortcutting in the testing of its efficacy and safety, he said. "We also know that the mRNA vaccine does not alter our genes."
However, he said, it is not yet known whether the vaccine will only prevent disease in those vaccinated or whether it will also prevent other people from becoming infected. It is also not yet clear how long the vaccination protection lasts and how well the vaccinations work in special risk groups. "What is certain, however, is that we reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 through vaccination," says the head of vaccination prevention at the RKI.
More information on the Corona situation can be found in the RKI's daily situation reports. The RKI has also published simple tips for the holidays.

+++

From 22 December 2020, a general ban on the carriage of passengers from Great Britain, Northern Ireland and South Africa to Germany will apply. The transport ban affects passenger transport by train, bus, ship and flight directly from these countries. With a corresponding legal ordinance, the Federal Ministry of Health wants to prevent the spread of variants of the Corona virus to continental Europe. The ban is valid until 6 January 2021.
From 1 January 2021, persons with residence and right of abode in Germany may be transported after prior approval by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
In addition, since 22 December 2020, travellers from the United Kingdom as well as South Africa and those who have stayed there in the last ten days prior to entry must be tested for the Corona virus. The existing quarantine obligation for entries from the risk areas applies without prejudice.
The reason for this measure is a new variant (mutation) of the corona virus found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which, according to the British government, is up to 70 per cent easier to transmit than the previously known variant SARS-CoV-2. However, so far there are no indications that the new virus variant also leads to a more severe course of COVID-19. However, it could also lead to a faster spread of the virus in Germany and thus accelerate the pandemic.

+++

Around 900 inclusive enterprises, where people with severe disabilities work, also suffered from closures and loss of turnover. Many of these companies have only been able to benefit from Corona aid to a limited extent or not at all.
 "In the Corona crisis, we must not lose sight of the people whose professional and social participation depends on institutions such as inclusive enterprises, institutions for people with disabilities and social enterprises. There, people are at risk of being doubly left behind by the crisis," explained Federal Minister of Social Affairs Hubertus Heil. Granting benefits from the Corona Participation Fund shows solidarity and closes a gap in the network of Corona aid measures already adopted.
Cornerstones of the support include:
- Grants from the Corona Participation Fund consist of a liquidity subsidy of 90 per cent of fixed operating costs not covered by income.
- The subsidy is not dependent on the number of employees or the size of the enterprise and can amount to up to 800,000 euros in individual cases.
- Personnel expenses that are not covered by short-time allowance or otherwise are also eligible for reimbursement.
The German Bundestag had decided to provide 100 million euros for the institutions mentioned. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has issued a funding guideline for this purpose and concluded administrative agreements with the Länder. From 1 January 2021, the assistance can be applied for at the Integration Office of the respective federal state for the period September 2020 to March 2021.

+++ Monday, December 21st +++

The EU Commission on Monday granted approval to the Corona vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer. "Today we are adding an important chapter to the fight against Covid-19," emphasised Commission President Ursula von der Leyen when announcing the decision.
The basis for the approval was the corresponding recommendation of the European Medicines Agency: The EMA had recommended on Monday afternoon that the vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer be approved for the EU. The director of the European Medicines Agency, Emer Cooke, emphasised in Amsterdam on Monday that it was a historically unique step in the fight against the pandemic that has caused so much suffering in the world. On the new coronavirus variant that has emerged in the UK, among other countries, Cooke said, "There is currently no evidence that the vaccine is not effective against the new variant.
"We were guided in our decision by a wide range of scientific evidence," Cooke said at the press conference in Amsterdam. The director of the agency pointed to the international cooperation between science, politics, business and society. Never in history has a successful vaccine against a virus been developed in such a short time, she said. "This scientific feat is unprecedented," Emer Cooke said.
Cooke also pointed out that more vaccines are still needed for the successful fight against the pandemic. She called on people to continue to observe hygiene and distance rules.
Now that approval has been granted at the European level, the Paul Ehrlich Institute will take over the release of the vaccine batches in Germany. Only then can the vaccine be delivered to the 27 delivery centres of the Länder. After that, it is up to the federal states to distribute the vaccine to their regional centres and start vaccination. The initial focus will be on old people's homes and nursing homes.
Read a detailed report on the vaccine approval here. The coronavirus vaccination regulation in wording as well as the most important questions and answers on corona vaccination can be found here.

+++

As of 21 December, flights from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Federal Republic of Germany are prohibited. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure published a general order to this effect. The ban will initially apply until 31 December 2020.

Excluded from the ban are purely mail, cargo or empty flights as well as flights with medical personnel in the interest of public health. The reason for this measure is a new variant (mutation) of the coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom, which, according to the British government, is up to 70 per cent easier to transmit than the previously known variant SARS-CoV-2. However, so far there are no indications that the new virus variant also leads to a more severe course of COVID-19. However, it could also lead to a faster spread of the virus in Germany and thus accelerate the pandemic.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn told " ARD" that the mutation of the virus has not yet been detected in Germany. A decree by the Federal Government is planned for tomorrow, Monday, which, in view of the situation, will restrict all travel with both the United Kingdom and South Africa. The German EU Council Presidency has also invited the EU member states to short-term talks tomorrow, Monday. Within the framework of the EU's Rapid Response Mechanism (IPCR), coordination with regard to the new virus variant is to be discussed.

+++

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has presented the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance. It specifies the order in which people in Germany can be offered a corona vaccination. "We cannot make this offer to all citizens at the same time at the beginning of the vaccination. There is not enough vaccine for that at first. That is why we have to prioritise," Spahn emphasised.  When the federal states begin vaccinations, probably on 27 December, the first place to be vaccinated will be in nursing homes, he said. "Every second death is an over-80-year-old, an over-80-year-old," Spahn said. Protecting the most vulnerable is therefore the first goal of the vaccination campaign, Spahn stressed. "Part of the truth is that we will need at least one to two months to reach this goal," he said. "After that, he said, the offer can be expanded step by step. Spahn asked everyone else to be patient. "I ask you to wait until it is your turn as well."

The ordinance provides for three groups whose relatives can be vaccinated with priority. The "highest priority" group, which can receive the vaccine first, includes all those over 80. It also includes: Nursing home residents and staff, outpatient care workers, intensive care unit staff, emergency room staff and ambulance staff.

The second "high priority" group includes, among others, people aged 70 and over, people with trisomy 21, dementia patients and transplant patients. This group also includes on-call police officers who are exposed to risk in order to maintain public safety. In addition, it includes residents of shelters for the homeless or asylum seekers and close contacts of persons in need of care and pregnant women.

The third group includes, among others, people over 60 years of age, people with certain chronic diseases, employees of the police, fire brigade, people in particularly relevant positions in state institutions, as well as educators, teachers and retail employees.

+++ Friday, December 18th +++

"We are mighty proud to have such researchers in our country," Chancellor Merkel said during a virtual visit to vaccine manufacturer Biontech. "Congratulations on what you have achieved." The Chancellor drew attention to the months of great toil and effort it took to develop a vaccine against Covid-19: "You didn't throw in the towel. You believed in your technology."

The vaccine that is now available is, on the one hand, "an expression of wonderful, individual research achievement", and on the other hand, "an expression of our approach as a whole, that we believe in science, that we support science", the Chancellor said. "We are already looking forward to the day when vaccination can begin - when approval is granted," Chancellor Merkel said. Given the current high death toll from Covid-19, she said it is clear how many lives can be saved through vaccination.

"Cause for confidence in the pandemic"

According to Federal Health Minister Spahn, who also took part in the video conference, the vaccine 'made in Germany' is "a cause for confidence for the world in this pandemic". If the EMA grants approval before Christmas, vaccinations can begin in Germany on 27 December after the vaccine batches have been tested by the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the minister explained. Research Minister Karliczek pointed out how important the issue of trust is to her: "I emphasise over and over again these days that no compromises have been made on testing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine ."

"The past twelve months have been very, very exciting for our team," Biontech founder Uğur Şahin elaborated. The development of the Covid-19 vaccine is a "matter of the heart" for him. Without support for the decades of basic research behind this vaccine, without support for the founding of Biontech, success would not be possible today, in his view. For him, international cooperation is also indispensable. "The milestone will soon be reached, namely to make the vaccine available to our fellow citizens in Germany," added Dr Türeci of Biontech. She said she supports the recommendation to vaccinate those at high risk and those at increased risk due to their occupation with Covid-19 patients first.

 

+++ Thursday, December 17th +++

Companies can now apply for funding for production facilities for corona rapid tests. With the new funding programme, the Federal Government wants to support companies in setting up their own competitive production facilities in Germany. The pandemic has shown that we need to become less dependent on imports, especially for sensitive products in Germany and Europe," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. In this way, the Federal Government is contributing to the fight against the Corona pandemic and securing jobs. The production of antigen tests is to be strengthened. The directive on federal funding for production facilities for point-of-care (PoC) antigen tests, which has now come into force, provides funding to companies that invest or have invested in new facilities or in the expansion of existing facilities in Germany since 11 November 2020.

The companies receive a non-repayable grant of up to 30 per cent of the eligible investment expenditure. The funding is limited to a maximum of 30 million euros per applicant. A total of up to 200 million euros is available for funding.

+++

Data on health, economy, mobility and finances in the Corona pandemic - with the "Dashboard Germany ", the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) in cooperation with the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) are making this available with immediate effect.

The freely accessible online platform thus offers up-to-date information for assessing the economic situation and currently already provides more than 100 meaningful indicators from various data sources. The information can be accessed directly and in a user-friendly manner from any device and from any location.  "In this way, we are creating real added value in the sense of the open data idea," says the Federal Ministry of Economics. By mid-2021, both the content and the technical functionality will be further expanded. The "Dashboard Germany" is free of charge and can be used without registration. The service is now available on the websites of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the Federal Statistical Office.

 

+++ Wednesday, December 16th+++

As of today, the measures that the federal and state governments decided on 13 December to curb the number of Corona infections will come into effect. The regulations are to apply until 10 January for the time being. An overview.

- Retail and service businesses such as hairdressing salons and beauty salons will be closed as of today. Exceptions apply to grocery shops, drugstores, pharmacies, opticians, petrol stations, car repair shops, banks, the post office, dry cleaners and Christmas tree dealers. Medically necessary treatments such as physiotherapy will also remain possible.

- At schools, contacts are to be significantly restricted from 16 December until 10 January 2021. Children are to be cared for at home whenever possible during this period. Therefore, schools will generally be closed or compulsory attendance will be suspended during this period. Emergency care will be provided and distance learning will be offered. The same procedure is followed in day-care centres. Additional opportunities will be created for parents to take paid leave for childcare.

- Employers are urged to consider whether business premises can be closed either through company holidays or generous home office solutions from today's Wednesday until 10 January 2021.

- In the catering industry, delivery and collection of takeaway food for consumption at home by catering businesses will remain possible. On-site consumption will be prohibited. The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places will be prohibited from 16 December to 10 January. Violators will be fined.

+++

According to RKI President Lothar Wieler, the situation in Germany is "as serious as it has ever been in this pandemic". The head of the Robert Koch Institute emphasised this at a press conference on Tuesday. The number of cases is at a record high - and it continues to rise. He therefore sees the danger that it will become increasingly difficult to deal with the pandemic and its consequences.  Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn appealed to citizens to adhere to the strict contact restrictions agreed by the federal and state governments: "I know it will be tough for many in the coming weeks." Spahn stressed that the EU had made a conscious decision to work together to seek proper approval for a vaccine - he wants proper, thorough and speedy approval. It is crucial, he said, that the public has confidence in the safety of a vaccine.

 

+++ Tuesday, December 15th+++

In the winter months, private gatherings are to be limited to one's own household and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of five persons. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted in the calculation. This is the provision of the joint decision of the Federal Government and the Länder of 13 December. The Corona Protection Ordinance of the respective federal state is decisive for the local regulation. The main aim is to avoid contact whenever possible.

Special rules at Christmas

For the Christmas holidays from 24 to 26 December, the following applies: In the closest family circle, meetings with four persons beyond one's own household are permitted. This also applies if this brings together more than two households or if the total number of five persons is exceeded. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted in the calculation. The Corona Protection Ordinance of the individual federal state is decisive.

Citizens are urged to keep contacts to an absolute minimum in the five to seven days before family gatherings, thus observing a "protection week".

On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, it is forbidden to gather anywhere in the country. Fireworks are banned in crowded places. The sale of pyrotechnics before New Year's Eve will be banned this year. In addition, people are strongly advised to refrain from setting off fireworks in general.

Furthermore, the basic contact restrictions apply on New Year's Eve: Private gatherings with friends, relatives and acquaintances are only permitted with members of one's own and another household. A maximum of five people are allowed to get together. Children up to 14 years of age are not counted in the calculation.

 

+++ Sunday, December 13th +++

The measures taken so far to contain the Corona pandemic are not enough. The numbers continue to rise. This was stated by Chancellor Merkel after the talks with the heads of government of the federal states. The goal is still to make contact tracing possible again and to reach an incidence of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. "That is why we are now forced to act - and we are acting," Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed on Sunday after consultations between the federal and state governments. Further measures to limit contacts must now be taken to significantly reduce the number of new infections, she said. The Federal Government and the Länder adopted a new resolution on this matter.

Chancellor Merkel thanked all the people in Germany for observing the rules in large numbers and thus contributing to the containment of the pandemic. The Chancellor urged everyone to "refrain from contacts that are not absolutely necessary in the next few days, and thus contribute to ensuring that our health system is not overburdened". The Chancellor gave special thanks to the people who work in the health system. For them, this will be a very difficult Christmas and therefore "our resolutions are urgently needed to support them in particular and to give people more health security".

The resolutions

Among other things, the Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the Länder decided the following:

- The existing resolutions will remain valid until 10 January 2021.

- Private gatherings with friends, relatives and acquaintances are to continue to be limited to one's own household and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of 5 persons. Children up to 14 years of age are exempt.

- The following applies for the Christmas holidays: Depending on their respective infection patterns, countries may allow meetings with 4 persons from the immediate family circle beyond one's own household plus children up to 14 years of age from 24 December to 26 December 2020 as an exception to the otherwise applicable contact restrictions, even if this means more than two households or 5 persons over 14 years of age.

- On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, a ban on arrivals and gatherings will be implemented nationwide. In addition, a ban on fireworks in public places will be enforced. The sale of pyrotechnics before New Year's Eve will be generally banned this year and the setting off of New Year's Eve fireworks in general is strongly discouraged, also against the background of the high risk of injury and the already enormous burden on the health system.

- The retail sector will be closed from 16 December 2020 until 10 January 2021. Food retailers and retailers of urgently needed goods for daily use are exempt.

- Service businesses such as hairdressing salons will be closed because physical proximity cannot be avoided here. Medically necessary treatments such as physiotherapy will remain possible.

- Contact at schools is also to be significantly restricted during the period from 16 December 2020 to 10 January 2021. Children are to be cared for at home whenever possible during this period. Therefore, schools will generally be closed or compulsory attendance will be suspended during this period. Emergency care will be provided and distance learning will be offered. The same procedure is followed in day-care centres. Additional opportunities will be created for parents to take paid leave for childcare.

- Employers are urged to consider whether business premises can be closed either through company holidays or generous home office solutions from 16 December 2020 to 10 January 2021.

- Delivery and collection of takeaway food for consumption at home by catering businesses will remain possible. On-site consumption will be prohibited. Consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces will be prohibited from 16 December to 10 January. Violators will be fined.

- Services in churches, synagogues and mosques as well as gatherings of other faith communities will only be allowed under certain conditions. The Federal Ministry of the Interior will hold talks with the religious communities on this matter.

- Special protective measures are to be taken in old people's and nursing homes as well as for mobile care services. Regular compulsory tests are to be carried out for staff.

- The Federal Government and the Länder urge all citizens to refrain from non-essential travel at home and abroad in the period up to 10 January.

- Economic sectors that are particularly affected by the restrictions will continue to receive financial support.

 

+++ Friday, December 11th +++

More training companies than before can apply for financial assistance from the federal government in the midst of the Corona pandemic. Companies that had to struggle with a significant drop in turnover this autumn due to the Corona pandemic will now also receive support. Previously, this only applied to companies with problems during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring. This is made possible by the fact that the federal government is massively expanding its programme "Securing Training Jobs". The initiative includes bonuses for companies that continue to provide training even in corona times or take on trainees from insolvent companies. The new regulations also stipulate that these takeover premiums be paid to all companies. Previously, this was reserved for companies of small and medium size.

In addition, the federal government is extending the payment of takeover premiums and subsidies for training allowances until the middle of 2021. Initially, this was partly limited until the end of this year.

 

+++ Thursday, December 10th +++

Chancellor Merkel emphasised in the Bundestag that the corona pandemic was a challenge the country had never faced before. The most important key to successfully combating the virus is the responsible behaviour of each individual and the willingness to participate", she said. In dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government is leading the way in ensuring that Germany is a strong country, a globally recognised free and open democracy and a country with social cohesion and a strong civil society, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised in the German Bundestag on Wednesday. "We want to maintain this strength even in this exceptional situation and create the preconditions to be able to build on it once the pandemic has been overcome," she said in the general debate on the budget.

The Federal budget creates the right conditions for successfully coping with this period, the Chancellor said. She said it was not a matter of fighting for health against the fight for the economy, education and other things, but of reconciling the two. It was important to cushion the consequences of the pandemic and create a solid basis for sustainable economic growth in the future. Every effort must be made to continue on the path of recovery that Germany embarked on in the third quarter, said Merkel.

The Chancellor also referred to the continuing high number of new infections with the coronavirus. The number of contacts was too high, the reduction in contacts was not sufficient. "We must not forget that the target is: down to 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days", said Merkel.

It is important to listen to what science says, the Chancellor stressed. "The fact that Europe is where it is today is thanks to the Enlightenment and the belief that there are scientific findings that are real and that it is better to stick to them," Merkel said. The most important key, she said, was not prohibitions and closures and controls that had to be in many places. The most important key to successfully fighting the virus is the responsible behaviour of each individual and the willingness to participate, the Chancellor said.

You can watch the whole speech on video.
 

+++ Wednesday December 9th +++

The Federal Government and the Länder have taken effective measures against the corona pandemic and its consequences - also by international standards. This is stated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in its economic report for Germany. The OECD emphasises the efficiency of the German health care system and the provision of additional capacities with the beginning of the corona pandemic. OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría handed over the new Economic Report for Germany to Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, on Tuesday. The report gives a positive assessment of the economic policy measures to protect companies and jobs as well as the economic stimulus and crisis management package. The OECD certifies that the Federal Government and the Länder have a successful policy in the fight against the corona pandemic and its social and economic consequences compared with other countries. It also predicts that the German economy will recover from the corona recession. The gross domestic product will grow by 2.8 percent in 2021 and by 3.3 percent in 2022.

 

+++ Tuesday, December 8th +++

Chancellor Merkel answered questions from German-Turkish young people about Corona - and about the rules that now apply to contain the pandemic. How is school going in times of the Corona pandemic? How far has the vaccine been developed and when can we have our normal lives back? Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with German-Turkish young people about their questions about the corona pandemic. These included living together with friends and family and the need to reduce contacts as much as possible. „I know how important the family is in Turkey, but protect the elderly in particular and: protect yourself too“, said Chancellor Merkel in an interview with Metropol FM, the first Turkish-speaking radio station in Germany. „Help the nurses and doctors in the clinics who have to work so hard by being sensible and only coming together in small groups. Every contact is a chance for the virus,“ Merkel continues.

 

+++ Monday, December 7th+++

In future, day-care centres and schools will be able to obtain and use rapid tests independently. The basis for this is the amendment to the Medical Devices Dispensing Ordinance which came into force on Friday. "Teachers will be allowed to test themselves. And school authorities will be able to carry out tests on site with trained staff if required", emphasises Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. This is another option suitable for everyday use to enable children to attend a day-care centre or school even during the Corona pandemic, said Spahn. But the federal government is only setting the legal framework. The details, i.e. the concrete organisation and design of the testing of staff and children in community facilities, are the responsibility of the Länder.  According to the decision taken by the Federal Government and the Länder on 25 November, after a case has occurred in a school class, the respective group (usually the school class) is to be sent into quarantine for five days. On day five a quick test is to be carried out. Children who have tested negative can then return to school.

These are explicitly quick tests and not self-tests. The change in the Medical Devices Dispensing Regulation merely means that a pharmacy may also dispense PoC antigen tests to schools and day-care centres. The entire test procedure (such as protective clothing, instruction) must be specified in detail by the federal states. The Federal Ministry of Health will hold talks with the test coordinators of the Länder in due course.

+++

In order to secure supplier credits for German companies and to support the economy in difficult times, the German government and the credit insurers have agreed a protective shield. For 2020, the Federal Government will take over a guarantee for compensation payments by the credit insurers in the amount of 30 billion euro. The Federal Government will also grant this guarantee for the coming year. Together with the banking industry, the supply chain protection scheme was extended until June 2021. These credit insurances protect suppliers against payment defaults if a buyer at home or abroad is unable or unwilling to pay the invoice. "The Corona pandemic is not yet over and we will not leave our companies alone. The protective umbrella for safeguarding supply chains is a very important element in supporting companies in this difficult phase", said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier on the continuation of the guarantees. Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz emphasised: "The pandemic continues to pose unprecedented challenges to the economy. The Federal Government is therefore resolutely continuing its aid measures. The protective shield for supply chains remains in place".

 

+++ Friday, December 4th +++

The Committee of the Economic Stabilisation Fund has decided to support Tui AG with further measures of probably up to 1.1 billion euros. "The aid is important because the company was profitable before the crisis and, as a company in the travel industry, is facing unprecedented difficulties due to the Corona crisis," the Federal Ministry of Economics announced. The company has agreed a total package with shareholders, banks and the Federal Government amounting to a total of 1.8 billion euros. The state aid is part of it.

 

+++ Thursday, December 3rd +++

At the virtual Bund-Länder consultations, it was decided to extend the Corona conditions until 10 January 2021. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out that although the course of the infection figures may give cause for positive optimism, she said: "Our goal is to get the incidence back below 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. We are a long way from achieving that", said Merkel on Wednesday after the conference.

Another topic was the structure and organisation of the vaccination centres in the Länder. Merkel praised the efforts on the ground, saying that if the vaccine was to be approved by the end of the month, one had to be prepared. On the basis of the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Vaccination, the order in which vaccinations should take place would now be determined.

 

+++ Wednesday, December 2nd +++

The three pharmaceutical companies CureVac, Biontech and IDT Biologika, funded by the German government, show an "impressive development", said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek at a press conference on the status of vaccine development. Only eight weeks after an initial interim assessment of the state of research, the companies have made breathtaking progress, said the Minister: "We can hope that we will hear positive news from Biontech in the next few days," said Karliczek. An approval of a vaccine would be "a first ray of hope at the end of the tunnel". However, several good vaccines are needed to really get the pandemic under control. "We hope that all three funded companies will also bring their vaccines to approval".

On Monday, the company Biontech announced that it had applied to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) together with the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer for a conditional marketing authorisation for its corona vaccine in the EU. The German government is providing a total of €750 million in the special programme for the development of a vaccine against Covid-19. The three pharmaceutical companies CureVac, Biontech and IDT Biologika are being funded.

Despite the urgency of fighting the pandemic with a vaccine, two criteria are fundamental: efficacy and safety. To counteract vaccination sceptics, transparency about the development of the vaccine and its side effects is important, the Minister emphasised. Despite the breathtaking pace of vaccine development, no safety restrictions are being imposed, explained Professor Marylyn Addo, head of the Infectiology Section at Eppendorf University Hospital (UKE). Several factors have had a positive influence on research. For example, scientists have deciphered the sequence of the Covid-19 pathogen faster than expected. "Processes were parallelized, but no shortcuts were taken that are in any way relevant to safety," says the professor. And finally, the broad financial support has also accelerated the development. The speed "should not frighten us, but rather inspire us as to how we can react to such a pandemic," said Addo. "A vaccine approved in the EU and Germany will meet the highest standards and requirements for safety".

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the fight against Covid-19 with a total of 1.2 billion euros. In addition to the special programme for vaccine development, the ministry is also investing in the University Medicine Network, in Covid-19 research and in the promotion of medical technology.

+++

Since December 1st, stricter contact restrictions have been in force in Germany: Private meetings are limited to one's own household and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of five people. Children up to 14 years of age are excluded from this. In addition, the following applies: Every person must wear a mouth-and-nose cover in closed rooms that are open to the public or accessible to visitors or customers. In addition, the obligation to wear a mouth-and-nose cover applies in all places with public access in city centres. Although the exponential growth has stopped, new infections with the coronavirus remain at a high level. The Federal Government and the Länder therefore decided at their meeting on 25 November that the November measures must be extended and in some cases tightened. "We need to make a renewed effort", Chancellor Merkel stressed.

 

+++ Tuesday, December 1st +++

The Federal Government is setting up a National Health Reserve. At 19 locations in Germany, important materials such as protective equipment, protective masks, respirators and medicines are to be stored in future. The aim is to be able to support hospitals, nursing homes and doctors' surgeries with equipment from the national reserve in an emergency. "The German health system should be able to become even more resilient in a crisis like this", said Health Minister Jens Spahn on Monday. The reserve will be filled until the end of 2021 with materials already procured. After that, the main focus will be on equipment from domestic production. It is planned to keep the demand permanently available for one month at the storage sites. The German Government supports the establishment of production capacities, inter alia for protective equipment, in Germany and the EU.

At the beginning of June, the Federal Government had decided in principle to set up a "National Reserve Health Protection" and commissioned the ministries involved to develop a concept. Spahn emphasised that this would be done in cooperation with the EU, the Länder and actors in the health system. In 2021, a total of one billion euro is earmarked for the establishment of the health reserve.

 

+++ Monday, November 30th+++

In order to provide passengers with more safe distance, DB has been offering only 60 percent of its seats for reservation since 27 November. Long-distance services are being massively expanded and the current timetable has been increased. New trains with additional thousands of seats are planned. In large-capacity coaches, only one seat per double seat can be reserved; the second seat remains blocked for reservation. Single travellers are automatically assigned window seats. At tables, only diagonally opposite seats can be reserved. In compartments with six seats, only two seats can be reserved - the window seat on one side and the aisle seat on the other. For families or couples, the railway has created extra areas in which seats can be booked next to each other.

There is still no obligation to make a reservation. Trips without a reservation are therefore still possible. However, DB generally recommends seat reservations for all current long-distance journeys. By the time the timetable changes in mid-December, the railway will be able to offer its guests 13,000 additional seats a day - with more connections, more frequent train services and new vehicles for long-distance travel. The current timetable offer will be increased by around ten percent.

+++

The extraordinary economic aid ("November aid") will be extended in line with the requirements of EU state aid law. This is due to the extension of the closures until 20 December 2020, which means that grants of up to 75 percent of the comparable turnover in 2019 will also be available as aid to companies affected by these closures for the period of the measures in December. Details were presented on Friday by Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. The bridging aid, which is extended until the end of June 2021, also supports companies that are particularly hard hit by the measures to combat the pandemic. It is a direct grant that does not have to be repaid.

The Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier referred to the new start aid that goes with it. This instrument, he said, was "a key support offer, especially for many lone fighters in the culture and media industry. This costs a lot of money, Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz made clear, "but the alternative, a wave of company bankruptcies and redundancies, would be much more expensive for all of us. The Federal Government is planning 37.5 billion euros for Corona business aid next year. In addition, a general provision for coping with the consequences of the corona pandemic with an additional 30 billion euros is planned.

December aid at a glance

Eligible for December aid are companies directly affected by the temporary closures in accordance with the November aid rules. In principle, the December aid will again provide grants of up to 75 percent of the turnover from December 2019 pro rata to the number of days of closure in December 2020.

However, it will again be possible to submit applications via the bridging aid platform ( www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de ). As with the November aid, the application will be made via tax consultants, auditors or other third parties. Solo self-employed persons who do not apply for a grant of more than 5,000 euros can submit the applications directly with their ELSTER certificate.

Bridging assistance III at a glance

The survey now also covers companies that have suffered a drop in turnover of at least 40 percent compared to the respective month of the previous year (previously 50) and had no access to November and/or December assistance. The maximum amount of support per month increases from the previous 50,000 euros to 200,000 euros. Now all companies up to a maximum of 500 million euros annual turnover in Germany are eligible to apply.

The situation of solo self-employed persons will be given special consideration. In future, they will be able to apply for a one-off flat-rate operating fee amounting to 25 percent of the comparative turnover and will receive a grant of 5,000 euros as start-up assistance.

 

+++ Friday, November 27th +++

The worst, namely overtaxing the health system, has so far been avoided, said Chancellor Angela Merkel in a government statement in the German Bundestag on Thursday morning. This was "a first success, but not yet a sustainable success". The goal remains, therefore, to reduce the number of infections to such an extent that the health authorities are once again able to recognise and break infection chains - with an incidence of less than 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. Therefore, the restrictions decided on 2 November will be continued, in some places clarified and strengthened by additional measures. This was decided by the Federal Government and the Länder on Wednesday.

The Chancellor stressed that the most important protection remains to keep a distance. Wearing a mouth and nose protector reduces the risk of infection and is a protection, but not a guarantee that infection will not occur. She also promoted the Corona Warning App once again, as it also helps to identify chains of infection.

For the special arrangements for the period 23 December to 1 January, the Chancellor appealed to the citizens' own responsibility to decide whether the possibility of meetings with up to ten people should be fully exploited. It was important that people in old people's and nursing homes were not alone, she said. "It is important that we do not only think of our own family in these times, but also of those who are really having a hard time during this time," said Merkel.

"The winter will be hard, but it will end," the Chancellor concluded. She therefore wished "all of us to stand up for each other and for each other more than ever". "If we take this to heart, we will come out of the crisis."

The entire government statement in german language on video.

 

+++ Thursday, November 26th +++

The Federal Government and the Länder have agreed to extend the measures taken on 28 October 2020 nationwide until 20 December. The establishments and facilities closed on the basis of this decision will remain closed for the time being - especially the catering trade. Accommodation in Germany will continue to be provided only for necessary and explicitly not for tourist purposes. The Federal Government and the Länder appeal to citizens to avoid all non-essential professional and private travel - in particular, in particular, tourist travel, including travel abroad, inter alia with regard to the skiing season.

Meetings with a maximum of five persons

In view of the special challenge in the winter months, the Federal Government and the Länder have agreed on further measures to apply from 1 December 2020. Private gatherings with friends, relatives and acquaintances are to be limited to one's own and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of five persons. Children up to 14 years of age are excluded.

Extended mask obligation

The existing rules for wearing a mouth-nose cover will be extended. In future, all places with public traffic in city centres, where people are either in a confined space or not just temporarily, will be obliged to wear a mouth-nose cover. It will also be compulsory in front of retail outlets and in car parks.

Separate rules for Christmas days

For Christmas and the turn of the year, extended personal limits apply for meetings inside and outside: From 23 December 2020 to 1 January 2021, meetings in the closest circle of family and friends with a maximum of 10 people are possible - children up to 14 years of age are excluded. Wherever possible, the Federal Government and the Länder call for contacts to be reduced to the absolute minimum necessary for five to seven days prior to these family meetings.

Extended measures for hotspots

The Federal Government and the Länder refer to the hotspot strategy already adopted, according to which, from an incidence of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week, a consistent restriction concept must be implemented immediately. In the case of particularly extreme infection situations with an incidence of more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week and diffuse infection patterns, these measures are to be extended again in order to achieve a significant reduction in the number of infections in the short term. In principle, however, keeping childcare facilities and schools open remains of utmost importance.

Further observe rules of conduct

The Federal Government and the Länder emphasise that it is still urgently necessary to avoid all unnecessary contacts at all costs. Where meetings take place, the Rules concerning distance, hygiene measures, everyday masks, CoronaWarnApp, ventilation must always be observed.

No trend reversal achieved

The measures taken so far to contain the infection are showing the first effects: the exponential increase has been flattened. After the talks, Chancellor Merkel emphasised that "we could by no means be satisfied with this partial success". The Federal Government and the Länder note that the hoped-for turnaround in November was not achieved; so far only a "sideways trend" has been observed. Merkel therefore stressed that "another effort is needed".

 

+++ Wednesday, November 25th +++

To contain the Corona pandemic, private gatherings with friends, relatives and acquaintances will be limited to a maximum of five people from one's own household and one other household. Children under 14 years of age are not covered by the scheme. This was announced by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday evening after her consultations with the Minister-Presidents of the Länder. It was decided to tighten up the previous measures, which initially apply until 23 December. A total of 10 people are to be admitted to Christmas parties.

 

+++ Tuesday, November 24th +++

During a visit to the pharmaceutical company IDT Biologika in Dessau-Roßlau on Monday, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn praised the innovative strength of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany in the development of a corona vaccine. "The crisis shows the best in us", Spahn summarised the wealth of ideas of the scientists. In addition to Biontech and Curevac, IDT Biologika is the third German company to make great progress in the production of a vaccine. The German government is supporting the company in the development with more than 140 million euros for research and provision of the vaccine.

Spahn also said on Monday that the German government has already ordered five million vaccine doses from IDT Biologika. IDT expects that the vaccine could be approved at the end of 2021 after completion of all clinical trials. "Vaccines are our key to the way out of the pandemic, so it makes sense to promote several approaches," emphasised the Health Minister. Spahn also expressed confidence that a first vaccine could possibly be approved and available in Germany as early as the end of this year or the beginning of next year. Accordingly, he said, an infrastructure had to be established quickly. "I would rather have a vaccination centre that is ready to start and will be out of action for a few days, than an approved vaccine that is not used immediately", said Spahn.

 

Monday, November 23rd

+++ Monday, November 23rd +++

The bridging aid was originally intended as a grant for the months of June, July, August and September. Due to current developments in the Corona Pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has now decided, in consultation with the German Student Union and the student services organisations, to extend the bridging grant for the entire winter semester. Applications can be submitted with immediate effect. "We are not leaving students alone in this pandemic. We will again offer the subsidies already known from the summer as part of the bridging aid for students in pandemic emergency situations - and we will do so until the end of the winter semester," explained Federal Minister of Education Karliczek. The aim is to help students whose employment opportunities are temporarily lost due to the measures to contain the pandemic or who can no longer be supported by their parents due to the pandemic.

In order to cushion the hardships for students, a comprehensive package was therefore put together, which includes adjustments to BAföG and a bridging aid with two safety nets consisting of the KfW student loan and grants. The long-standing KfW Student Loan is the largest safety net - it offers stable and rapid support of up to 650 euros per month. There are also innovations here: It is now interest-free for the entire year 2021. Foreign students can still submit applications until March 2021. Many students have already taken advantage of this offer: 155,000 applications were last submitted in September.

+++

The Bundestag has passed the Employment Protection Act. It can thus enter into force on 1 January 2021. The follow-up regulations for the short-time working allowance are intended to give companies and employees affected by the corona pandemic and its consequences planning security. The Act extends the following measures:

- The regulation to increase the short-time working allowance (to 70/77 per cent from the fourth month and to 80/87 per cent from the seventh month) is extended until 31 December 2021 for all employees whose entitlement to short-time working allowance has arisen by 31 March 2021.

- The existing fixed-term additional income regulations will be extended until 31 December 2021 to the extent that remuneration from low-paid employment (so-called mini-jobs up to 450 euros), which was taken up during short-time working, remains credit-free.

In addition, the incentive to use periods of absence from work for continuing vocational training will be further strengthened: half of the reimbursement of social security contributions regulated for these cases will no longer be linked to the requirement that the qualification must be at least 50 percent of the period of absence from work. "In this way, short-time work will not only become a bridge over a deep economic valley, but also a way into the future," explained Federal Employment Minister Hubertus Heil.

The Federal Government also extends other special schemes to safeguard employment. Among other things, the simplified access conditions to short-time work benefits and the opening of short-time work benefits for temporary workers will continue to apply until the end of next year. This is provided that the companies have begun short-time working by 31 March 2021.

At the end of this year, many special regulations on short-time working allowances would expire. In order to continue the successful measures, the Federal Cabinet had already adopted corresponding ordinances in September in addition to the draft Employment Protection Act. "Short-time work is our model for success, with which we secure the livelihoods of millions of employees and their families. We will continue on this path," said the Minister.

 

November 20th, 2020:

+++ Friday, November 20th+++

EU leaders held a video conference on how to tackle the Corona pandemic. The topics discussed included vaccination and an extended exchange between corona warning apps. Chancellor Merkel sees many positive approaches for European cooperation in the fight against the virus and its consequences.  Moreover, the Commission and the Member States want to push ahead with linking as many corona warning apps as possible. More country apps should soon be able to exchange information with each other. "It is therefore very helpful that we have an EU-wide approach here as well", Merkel said. In general, it has become clear once again that neither the spread of the virus nor the restrictions adopted are country-specific. "It can be said that we in Germany are not alone with this burden, but that we all carry it together in Europe," said the Chancellor.

Multiannual financial framework and reconstruction fund

The Heads of State and Government also discussed the Multiannual Financial Framework, the reconstruction package and the conditionality mechanism. The German EU Council Presidency conducted negotiations with the European Parliament on these issues. She believed, Merkel stressed, that a very good and balanced compromise had been reached with the European Parliament on the conditionality mechanism. But Hungary and Poland had made it clear once again that they could not agree to this conditionality mechanism at this stage, Merkel said. As the Council Presidency, Germany would continue to discuss with both countries what could be done to make agreement possible.

The 27 EU member states agreed on 21 July on a new multiannual financial framework for the years 2021-2027 amounting to 1.8 trillion euros. From 2021 to 2023, 750 billion of this amount will be available for a reconstruction fund to deal with the economic consequences of the Corona pandemic. 390 billion euro of this will be provided in the form of grants, 360 billion euro in the form of loans.

 

+++ Thursday, November 19th +++

Amendments to the Protection against Infection Act in the 3rd Civil Protection Act specified the conditions and requirements under which protective measures against the spread of COVID-19 can be taken. "The virus is dynamic, we have to be too", Federal Minister of Health Spahn emphasised in the German Bundestag. In principle, corona protection measures are only possible because Parliament has identified an epidemic situation of national importance.

The law also stipulates that measures involving restrictions on fundamental rights are linked to incidence (i.e. the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days). Particularly severe restrictions on fundamental rights - such as freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, exit restrictions and bans on access to care facilities - are linked to specific conditions - for example, that other measures have not helped. The 3rd Civil Protection Act also contains a large number of legal bases for further measures which are essential for combating the pandemic. For example: Regulations for digital entry registration, for the use of rapid antigen tests or for the measures adopted to strengthen the public health service, for the procurement and financing of necessary drugs or vaccines.

The 3rd Civil Protection Act further develops the first two Civil Protection Acts, adapts them to the current needs of the pandemic and takes into account new developments and findings.

 

+++ Wednesday, November 18th +++

The situation is still serious, Chancellor Merkel told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" at the economic summit. "That is why we have to reduce contacts, reduce contacts and reduce contacts again", Merkel said. Every day counts, she said, so the continuing restrictions are unavoidable. She promised further support for the economy. She was aware that the restriction of contacts in particular was "a democratic imposition", said Chancellor Merkel. Nevertheless, the restrictions are unavoidable, she said, in order to first slow down and then stop the rapid exponential increase in new infections. "If we waited until intensive care beds were occupied, it would be too late - not only ethically, but also economically and socially," stressed the Chancellor.

It was therefore still necessary to reduce the number of new infections and then keep it at a low level. "If we succeed - as we saw in the third quarter of this year - the economic recovery will also gain considerable momentum", Merkel said. For the winter months, the Chancellor announced further support for companies that had been hit by the pandemic through no fault of their own. For the coming year she expects the German economy to experience a "strong growth spurt", Merkel said.

The three-day summit will focus on the corona pandemic and ways to cope with the crisis. Apart from the Chancellor, speakers included Federal Health Minister Spahn and Federal Finance Minister Scholz.

 

+++ Tuesday, November 17th +++

The Federal Government and the Länder took stock of the corona measures taken so far. At a press conference on Monday evening, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that a reversal of the trend had not yet been achieved. However, the dynamics of new infections had been broken. The decision taken by the Chancellor and the heads of the Länder governments states: contacts are to be reduced to an absolutely necessary minimum while complying with the AHA+A+L rules. Citizens are therefore called upon to do so:

  in the case of respiratory diseases, to have their doctor give them a sick note by telephone. The doctor will also discuss with those affected whether the symptoms are so relevant that testing, examination or further treatment is necessary.

  to refrain completely from private parties.

  to limit private gatherings with friends, relatives and acquaintances to a fixed additional household. This also includes children and young people in the families.

  to refrain from leisure activities and visits to areas with public traffic as well as from unnecessary private trips and tourist day trips

  to refrain from unnecessary stays in enclosed spaces with public access or unnecessary journeys by public transport

  to make visits, particularly to the elderly and particularly vulnerable, only if all family members are free from any symptoms of illness and have not been exposed to any particular risk in the days before

In addition, it was noted:

  Proven measures in specific outbreak clusters (e.g. business, institution, leisure group, religious community, family celebration) will be continued.

  The countries will maintain vaccination centres and structures in such a way that they can be operational at short notice.

 

17.11.2020

+++ Monday, November 16th +++

The Federal Government and the Länder want to provide better protection for particularly vulnerable people with cheap FFP2 masks. People over 65 years of age and people with certain pre-existing conditions should be able to obtain a total of 15 of these masks for a small personal contribution.

+++

In future, the Bundeswehr will have up to 20,000 soldiers ready to provide support in the Corona pandemic. Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer announced an increase in the contingent. The forces will mainly help in the health authorities to track contacts, but are also available for other tasks. The Bundeswehr will provide an additional 5,000 soldiers for the relief contingent against the Corona pandemic. Federal Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced an increase to 20,000 troops, plus reservists and staff in Bundeswehr hospitals.

The Bundeswehr is already supporting the health authorities in particular in their efforts to contain the pandemic. For example, soldiers are taking over the contact tracing of infected persons. "We have always said that when civil structures reach their limits, the Bundeswehr is there to help. And we stand by this mission," Kramp-Karrenbauer explained on ARD. There were many areas in which the Bundeswehr could intervene to provide support, such as logistics for the distribution of the vaccine, the preparation of swabs or the care of patients in Bundeswehr hospitals.

+++

Travel warnings will be issued for other regions of Europe due to increased corona incidence. As a result of the infection rates, the whole of Sweden, the British Channel Island of Jersey and other regions in Estonia, Greece, Latvia and Norway will be classified as risk areas with effect from 15 November. The same applies to the whole of Canada. In contrast, the region of Ostrobothnia in Finland is no longer a risk area since Sunday.

By 8 November, the whole of Italy, Portugal (except the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira) and almost all of Denmark (except the Faroe Islands and Greenland) had already been classified as risk areas. This classification also applies to many other countries.

At the Federal Foreign Office you will find an overview of the latest updates of the travel warnings. Information on travel advice and warnings can also be found in the Federal Foreign Office FAQ. The Robert Koch Institute provides an overview of current risk areas worldwide. The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.
 

+++ Friday, November 13th +++

According to the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Professor Lothar Wieler, the Corona situation in Germany is still very serious. The incidence of infections is still increasing throughout Germany. However, the increase can be slowed down by decisive action.

The overall number of cases is very high. The number of those who need to be treated in hospital or even require intensive medical care has also increased. With currently more than 3,000 cases requiring intensive medical care - more than in spring - the number has doubled in the last two weeks. Professor Wieler expects that the number of severe courses of disease and intensive care patients as well as deaths will continue to rise. After all, it is only with a time lag of two weeks that the increase in new infections in hospitals and intensive care units becomes apparent. "We must therefore expect clinics to reach their capacity limits," warns Wieler. An important factor here is that high case numbers mean that the - urgently needed - medical staff is also becoming increasingly infected.

Nevertheless, Professor Wieler is "cautiously optimistic", as the number of cases has been increasing at a slightly slower rate for several days and the curve is flattening out somewhat. However, it is not yet known whether this is a stable development. But he is certain: "We are not helplessly at the mercy of this virus. We are not powerless, even if the number of cases is very high at the moment. His appeal: adhere to the AHA+L rules and reduce contact. The quarantine regulations are also important for Professor Wieler: "All those who are in quarantine can no longer pose a risk of infection for others". He also advises that even those who have mild cold symptoms and have not been tested should stay at home for at least five days.

+++

How have trainees oft the dual vocational training system in Germany experienced the pandemic in recent months? What was particularly challenging for them? Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke about this on Thursday with this group that has been particularly affected by the pandemic.  "I want to stay in the conversation," said the Chancellor at the beginning of the dialogue - and that even in Corona times. "Because you are in a decisive phase of your life." And so the Chancellor learned many details from the trainees' everyday lives: Home office instead of a workbench, online lessons instead of on-site at the vocational school, and privately no travelling and celebrating - no trainee who is not affected by the pandemic and the restrictions that come with it. The Chancellor's everyday life has also changed significantly - no travelling, instead mainly virtual meetings. One participant asked how she is doing with this: "I've already had more carefree times - but that's how many people feel," said Federal Chancellor Merkel.

She was aware of the difficult situation of many businesses, for example in the restaurant and hotel sector, said the Chancellor. She said it was now important that "we are all sensible" and that the number of new infections is decreasing to such an extent that the health authorities can trace the infection chains again. Of course, "being free" was missing and the "spontaneous" was emphasised by one trainee. "But we must somehow move forward and protect each other. But the young trainees also see the positive side effects of this difficult phase. More home office instead of long journeys to the company and vocational school partly online - one or the other trainee can imagine this even after the pandemic.

 

+++ Thursday, November 12th +++

Anyone looking for reliable online information on health will find it easier to find what they are looking for in the future. In a medical keyword search, the search engine Google shows the answers of the National Health Portal in a highlighted information box, a so-called Knowledge Panel. "The Corona pandemic shows how important serious health information is. Because only those who have sound information can protect themselves and others," says Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. Knowledge Panels are already available for more than 160 diseases. A link within the Knowledge Panels takes users directly to the respective article in the National Health Portal. The website also provides citizens with detailed information on Covid-19.

+++

The German Council of Economic Experts has presented its annual report to the German Chancellor. "The report is an important stimulus for us at a time when we need, so to speak, ground under our feet but have to deal with completely new phenomena," said Chancellor Merkel, thanking her for preparing the report. The experts expect real gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by 5.1 percent in 2020 - instead of the recent 6.5 percent. For the coming year, they predict a further recovery with growth of 3.7 percent. "The forecasts of the German Council of Economic Experts are roughly in line with our projection, although they are somewhat more optimistic for this year and somewhat more cautious next year," said Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier.

In its report, the Council of Economic Experts stresses the importance of joint action in the crisis. It praises the Federal Government's rapid economic aid, which has contributed to the rapid recovery of the economy. "I am pleased that you, who are not normally known for praising every state interventionist measure, nevertheless consider our action in many areas to be right in this case," Chancellor Merkel said. The Federal Government would deal intensively with the proposals of the annual report for the period during and after the Corona crisis.

+++

The contract between the EU and vaccine manufacturers Biontech and Pfizer provides for the purchase of 200 million doses of vaccine. There is an option to purchase a further 100 million doses. Under an EU agreement, future vaccines will be distributed according to the population of the Member States. In a press statement, Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek welcomed the agreement. This is the basis for a solidarity-based distribution of the vaccine among the EU Member States after its approval. At the same time, she called for further education to reduce the vaccination reservations in parts of the population.

November 11st, 2020:

+++ Wednesday, November 11th +++

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek expressed hope for the progress made by the Mainz-based company Biontech in the development of a corona vaccine. "We are very pleased with the positive study data of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate from Biontech and Pfizer, which is funded by my institution," said the Minister in an interview. These initial results would hopefully also be confirmed in the subsequent analyses of the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine. "After all, it is still necessary not to take any risky shortcuts," said Karliczek. "An application for approval before the end of this year would be an enormous success".

People can rely on the high quality standards in the approval of the vaccine in Germany, despite the very rapid development of the corona vaccine through new technologies, said the Federal Research Minister in Berlin.

The success of Biontech is also a success of German research and innovation policy. The company, which was founded in 2008 as a start-up, was funded under the German government's Biotechnology Funding Programme. Biontech also received 375 million euros from the Special Programme for Vaccine Development for the development of the corona vaccine.

Minister Karliczek emphasised that thanks to the good funding and framework conditions, Germany can now once again compete with the world's leading research and innovation location.

+++

At a press conference, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn described the progress made by Biontech and Pfizer as "very encouraging". The companies had announced that according to study data, their vaccine offers more than 90% protection against Covid-19 and is expected to be filed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as of next week. Spahn stressed his commitment at European level to conclude a contract for the supply of a vaccine with Biontech and Pfizer as soon as possible. According to the European Commission, the contract has now been negotiated. In Berlin, Federal Research Minister Karliczek also referred to a supply agreement with the federally funded company.

November 10th, 2020:

+++ Tuesday, November 10th +++

The Standing Committee on Vaccination, the German Ethics Council and the Leopoldina Academy of Science have presented joint "Recommendations for fair and regulated access to a COVID 19 vaccine". The first vaccines against Covid-19 could be approved as early as early 2021. It is not expected that sufficient quantities will be available immediately to vaccinate the entire population. Therefore, it is necessary to prioritise which population groups will be vaccinated first. The "Recommendations for equitable and regulated access to a COVID-19 vaccine" set out a framework for the initial prioritisation of vaccination activities against COVID-19. This must be done in accordance with medical, ethical and legal principles and must be presented to the population in a way that is understandable, the experts explained.

Currently, decisive results from the ongoing clinical trials (Phase 3) on the characteristics of the vaccines are still missing. Therefore, a detailed recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission on the groups of persons to be vaccinated as a priority is not yet possible. However, the ethical and legal principles according to which a prioritisation is to be made have already been established: In addition to self-determination, these are non-harm, justice, fundamental equality of rights, solidarity and urgency. For this reason, the experts explained, it can be assumed that relatives of risk groups and employees in the health and care sector will be vaccinated first. But it was also clear that there would be no compulsory vaccination.

 

+++ Monday, November 9th +++

From 8 November 2020, the digital entry registration will replace the paper exit ticket. It can be downloaded from the following website: www.einreiseanmeldung.de

According to the orders of the Federal Ministry of Health, which come into force on 8 November 2020, travellers must register electronically before entering Germany if they have stayed in a risk area for the last ten days. With the entry registration, the health authorities responsible for the travellers' destination receive the necessary information to be able to check, for example, whether the quarantine obligation under state law is complied with. The data is encrypted, made available exclusively to the respective health authorities and automatically deleted 14 days after entry.

+++

Travel warnings will be issued for other regions of Europe due to increased corona incidence. As a result of the infection rates, the whole of Italy, Portugal (with the exception of the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira), almost all of Sweden (with the exception of the province of Västernorrland) and Denmark (with the exception of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), among others, are classified as risk areas with effect from 8 November.

By 24 October, the whole of Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, among others, had already been classified as a risk area, except for the other overseas territories, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

At the Federal Foreign Office you will find an overview of the latest updates of the travel warnings. Information on travel advice and warnings can also be found in the Foreign Office FAQ. An overview of current risk areas worldwide is provided by the Robert Koch Institute.

The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.

+++

Testing for SarsCoV-2 is central to combating the pandemic. After all, anyone infected with the SarsCoV-2 virus can - without realising it - infect others. To ensure that testing is targeted, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has developed criteria that can help doctors decide when to test. The RKI believes that not all people with mild cold symptoms like a scratchy throat or a cold need to be tested. The testing strategy remains the same: "Test, test, test - but specifically.

Around 1.4 million tests are now carried out in Germany every week - an enormous number. Many laboratories work around the clock and are increasingly reporting that they are at the limits of their capacity. Possible consequences: longer processing times and delays in transmitting the results to the health authorities. For the health authorities, the timely transmission of test results is crucial in order to track contacts of infected persons and break chains of infection.

 

+++ Friday, November 6th +++

The extraordinary economic aid for the month of November provides further central support for companies, businesses, self-employed persons, associations and institutions that are particularly affected by the current Corona restrictions. The details and conditions have now been presented by Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier.

With these measures, the Federal Government is supporting companies and self-employed persons directly and indirectly affected:

- With the November aid, grants per week of closures amounting to 75 percent of the average weekly turnover in November 2019 will be granted up to a ceiling of one million euros, provided that the existing scope of the company under state aid law allows it.

- Solo self-employed persons may use the average weekly turnover in 2019 as an alternative to the weekly turnover in November 2019.

- For eligible applicants who started their business activities after 31 October 2019, the average weekly turnover in October 2020 or the average weekly turnover since foundation can be chosen as a comparative turnover.

- The regulations apply to companies, self-employed persons and solo self-employed persons - especially in the culture and event industry.

Directly affected companies are businesses, self-employed persons, associations and institutions which had to cease business operations on the basis of the closure ordinances of the Länder issued by the Federal Government and the Länder on 28 October 2020. Hotels count as directly affected companies. Indirectly affected companies are all companies that demonstrably and regularly generate 80 percent of their turnover with companies directly affected by the closure measures.

The benefits of the bridging aid will be extended and substantially improved for the main sectors of the economy affected. The KfW fast loan will be opened for enterprises with less than ten employees. The schemes will apply to enterprises, self-employed persons and solo self-employed persons - especially in the cultural and event industry.

+++

The new matching platform Protective Equipment (MAPS) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology provides companies, public authorities and other institutions with reliable information on certified masks. Only masks that comply with the EU standards for medical devices or personal protective equipment are listed. "In this way, we want to support above all companies, the trade and public institutions in obtaining protective equipment," says Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier.

The MAPS platform contains information on the manufacturers of certified masks and meltblown fleece, their product range, prices and delivery conditions. Interested parties can filter the companies and their product portfolio according to various criteria and contact manufacturers directly. If a deal is concluded, it is conducted outside the platform - the sale of products is not possible via MAPS.

Registration: Manufacturers of certified masks and meltblown fleece can register with MAPS at any time. The prerequisite for inclusion in the platform is that the products meet the market access requirements for the European market and comply with the EU standards for medical devices or personal protective equipment.

+++

Soldiers of the Bundeswehr are currently supporting efforts to contain the corona pandemic in all federal states. Particularly in 255 of the 375 health offices throughout Germany, but also with mobile smear teams and in old people's and nursing homes, as the Inspector of the Armed Forces Base and National Territorial Commander, Lieutenant General Martin Schelleis, announced in a telephone conference with journalists on Thursday. 5600 soldiers are tied up in Corona relief, 4366 of which are directly involved in relief operations.

The Bundeswehr intends to have an additional 1,000 troops ready for the relief operations, bringing the total contingent to 16,000 soldiers by the end of November at the latest. Schelleis expects an increasing demand for administrative assistance in health offices. The Bundeswehr is also prepared to provide logistical support for a possible nationwide vaccination campaign.

 

+++ Thursday, November 5th +++

In the Corona pandemic, the Federal Government is pushing ahead with the expansion of all-day care in primary schools. An additional 1.5 billion euro will flow into the so-called special federal fund, through which the Länder receive the financial assistance. The cabinet took care of this with a decision on Wednesday.

When drawing up the comprehensive economic and crisis management package in response to the Corona pandemic, the Federal Government had decided to support the expansion of all-day childcare with additional federal funds. In total, the special fund will now be endowed with € 3.5 billion.

Around half of all primary school children are already using all-day care. However, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs assumes a significantly higher demand. From 2025 onwards there is to be a legal entitlement. You can read more about the full-day extension at primary schools in the Questions and Answers section.

 

+++ Wednesday, November 4th +++

Federal Health Minister Spahn has described the Corona pandemic as "a real mammoth task". The number of new infections is rising exponentially, and the number of patients requiring respiratory care is also increasing "strongly - too strongly". Spahn appealed to people to support efforts to contain the pandemic. "In the end it depends on each individual, on you personally." Spahn went on to say: "We have been working together for eight months to contain the virus and, for all we know, we have not yet reached the peak of this task". The situation was serious. Spahn underlined the exponential increase in the number of new infections. The number of people suffering from Covid-19 who need to be ventilated is also increasing "strongly - too strongly".

The Vice-President of the Robert Koch Institute, Prof. Lars Schaade, pointed out that between 1,000 and 4,000 new infections had been transmitted daily at the beginning of October. The number of cases had doubled in the last ten days, to an average of 15,000 per day at last count. "If this continued at the same rate, we would have over 400,000 reported new infections per day by Christmas," Schaade explained. Currently, 2,243 patients are being treated in intensive care.

Federal Health Minister Spahn said that November and the rules and restrictions in force since Monday could help to get the virus under control again. "Each of us can make a difference. We are not powerless against this virus. We know how to deal with it, especially in everyday life".

 

+++ Tuesday, November 3rd +++

The number of new coronavirus infections has tripled in the last 14 days and quintupled since mid-October, and the number of patients in intensive care units has doubled in the last ten days. The current situation "worries us", said Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the Federal Press Conference, she once again explained the restrictions that have been in place since Monday and for the time being until the end of the month:

- Home office, wherever possible

- No holiday trips, no visits to relatives not absolutely necessary, no parties and celebrations

- Leisure facilities and cultural sites will be closed.

- As few people as possible should meet at home.

- The stay in public places is limited to a maximum of two households with a maximum of ten people.

The Chancellor explained: "Whether this great joint effort in the month of November will bring any results depends not only on the rules, but above all on whether these rules are followed". What is needed is people's participation, acceptance and understanding. "Everyone has it in their hands to make this November our joint success, a turning point back to the traceability of the pandemic", said Merkel.

The aim is to bring the number of new infections back to the region of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days - so that the health authorities can trace the contacts again. Otherwise the exponential growth would continue to increase, Merkel said. At the moment, 75 per cent of infections could no longer be attributed.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Economics Minister Peter Altmaier would now act very quickly and very unbureaucratically and make up to ten billion euros available, the Chancellor said. "Nobody, whether a caterer or a fitness club manager, will be left alone with their loss of income in these next four weeks," Merkel said.

+++

November 2nd, 2020:

+++ Monday, November 2nd +++

In her latest podcast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has once again justified the severe restrictions imposed by the corona pandemic. The second wave of the pandemic makes it necessary to act quickly and consistently. She promises unbureaucratic help to those affected: "We will not leave companies and businesses that have got into difficulties through no fault of their own due to the current crisis alone," assures the Chancellor.

+++

One day after the informal exchange of views between heads of state and government, the health ministers of the EU member states held a video conference. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed that the challenge of the corona pandemic is huge - "and we know we cannot cope with it alone". The virus does not stop at borders. The consequence "is not always easy", he said, as it requires constant exchange and the willingness to compromise.

Germany admits intensive care patients from neighbouring countries

At the beginning of the pandemic, people had learned that the EU had to stand together: "Without solidarity there is no Europe", said Spahn. The cooperation covered issues such as travel, but also the distribution and surveillance of vaccines when they were available. He also wanted to cooperate on the admission of intensive care patients. Germany was currently in the fortunate position of being able to admit patients from neighbouring countries. As long as places are still available, "our neighbours are knocking on open doors here", said Spahn.

Spahn confirmed that the German Council Presidency would take up and discuss the EU Commission's proposals on crisis management. The health ministers 

Spahn expressed his gratitude for the unanimous vote of the EU Health Ministers on the upcoming reform of the World Health Organisation (WHO). "We want to make the WHO more transparent, more effective and more powerful", said Spahn. He noted that the WHO can only be as good as the members it has been. This is about the willingness to provide the WHO with the necessary resources and information, but also about the governance of the WHO.

Spahn emphasised that the EU wanted to take a leading role in the WHO reform. For the first time, a common position of all 27 member states on the WHO reform process was available, which is now to be finalised by 6 November. It will then be presented at the World Health Assembly on 9 November. The EU will seek partners worldwide for its proposals.

 

+++ Friday, October 30th +++

From July to September 2020, Germany's gross domestic product grew by 8.2 percent quarter-on-quarter. However, economic output is still 4.2 percent below the pre-crisis level. This was reported by the Federal Statistical Office. The Federal Government now anticipates a 5.5 per cent decline in gross domestic product for the current year. Initially, a somewhat more severe downturn was expected.

After the end of the hard lockdown, the German economy initially experienced a very strong revival in May and June, explained Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier when presenting the government's autumn projection. Subsequently, the recovery flattened out, but continued "supported by extensive economic stimulus measures by the federal government", the minister said.

Current leading indicators suggest that the catch-up process will continue at a very low level despite the resurgence of infection in the winter half-year. However, according to Amtmaier, the further recovery "stands or falls" with the level of infection. Against this volatile backdrop, the Federal Government is expecting GDP to rise by 4.4 per cent in the coming year. The pre-crisis level is not likely to be reached again until the turn of the year 2021/2022 at the earliest.

Peter Altmaier emphasised that Germany is facing a "national effort". It is necessary to "jointly break the current infection dynamics". Therefore, "cohesion and mutual solidarity are now the order of the day", said the Federal Minister of Economics. Altmaier pointed out that Germany has so far come through the crisis better than many other countries by acting jointly and decisively: "But we are currently at a crossroads and must counter the second wave as resolutely as we did in spring, then we will also manage the next stage," the Minister said.

He added that the economy and especially the sectors that have been particularly hard hit can continue to rely on the Federal Government's support. "We are extending and improving our aid programmes once again," said Altmaier. The extraordinary economic aid in November would create an additional instrument for the sectors particularly affected by closures and orders.

+++

At a joint press conference, Federal Minister Olaf Scholz and Peter Altmaier defended the tightening of the corona measures decided by the Federal Government and the Länder as necessary. The aim is to stabilise the situation in order to give the economy more freedom in December.

The Federal Government intends to provide comprehensive support for the companies affected by the temporary closures as well as for the self-employed with the following measures:

- Extraordinary economic aid will be granted to the companies affected by temporary closures, covering up to 75 percent of the turnover of the same month of the previous year.

- The benefits of the bridging assistance will be extended and substantially improved for the main sectors of the economy affected.

- The KfW rapid loan will be opened up for companies with fewer than ten employees.

- The schemes will apply to companies, self-employed persons and solo self-employed persons - especially in the cultural and event industry.

The temporary closures will affect, among others, catering businesses, bars, clubs and discotheques, but also service providers, trade fairs, cinemas, leisure parks or fitness studios.

+++

"The labour market in Germany has stabilised significantly since the summer," Hubertus Heil said on Thursday, summarising the developments of recent months. In addition to the steady fall in unemployment figures, Heil also emphasised the halving of the short-time working rate: last August, only just under 2.6 million people were still on short-time working. This means that more than 33.5 million people in Germany are currently in work subject to social security contributions. Looking ahead to the coming months, Heil promised to "fight for every job.

Unemployment fell sharply in October in the wake of the autumn revival. At 2,760,000, the number of unemployed is 87,000 lower than in the previous month. Seasonally adjusted, it has fallen by 35,000. Compared to the previous year, the number of unemployed increased by 556,000. The unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points from September to October to 6.0 per cent, but was up 1.2 percentage points on October of the previous year.

+++

On Thursday morning, Chancellor Angela Merkel drew attention to the dramatic development in the pandemic in her government statement in the Bundestag. She said it was urgently necessary to reduce contacts generally and systematically. The aim of the measures agreed by the Federal Government and the Länder the day before was to "massively and preferably by 75 percent" reduce the number of people coming into contact with the pandemic, Merkel said. If, instead, one waited until the intensive care units were full, it would be too late, the Chancellor continued.

Merkel appealed to the population in Germany to continue to be careful and to observe the rules. "It depends on everyone, on each and every one of us, on all our commitment, our perseverance, our consideration," said Merkel. Each and every one could actively contribute to overcoming the pandemic. "And actively contribute to it, which in this case means renouncing any contact that is not absolutely necessary", Merkel warned. The Chancellor was impressed and deeply touched by the efforts of many citizens so far. Only with and for each other can we get through this historic crisis, the Chancellor said.

Looking ahead to the coming months, Merkel said: "Winter will be hard - four long, hard months. But it will end."

+++

Thursday, October 29th:

+++ Thursday, October 29th +++

In view of the meanwhile exponential infection dynamics and in order to prevent the health care system from being overburdened, the Federal Government and the Länder have decided on additional corona measures. "We must act, and we must act now", stressed Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel after the consultations. In view of the restrictions decided, she said that this was a "difficult day" - but a way had to be found to avoid a health emergency.

The measures will apply from 2 November and will be limited in time until the end of November. The aim is to halt the spread of infection and to reduce the number of new infections back to the traceable level of less than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in one week.

Reduce contacts to the absolute minimum

All citizens are urged to keep contacts with other people outside their own household to an absolute minimum. Therefore, public access to the public is only permitted with members of one's own household and one other household, but in any case with a maximum of 10 persons. Citizens are urged to generally refrain from unnecessary private travel and visits - including visits by relatives. This also applies within Germany and to day trips for day tourists.

Catering establishments must close temporarily

Institutions and facilities that are associated with leisure activities will be closed. These include theatres, concert halls, cinemas and fitness studios. Recreational and amateur sports activities will also be discontinued - with the exception of individual sports alone, in pairs or with one's own household. Professional sports events can only take place without spectators.

Schools and day care centres remain open

Catering establishments as well as bars, clubs, discotheques and pubs will also be closed. The delivery and collection of food is excluded from this. Personal hygiene services will also be closed. Medically necessary treatments, such as physiotherapy, will continue to be possible. Hairdressing salons and the wholesale and retail trade will also remain open under hygiene conditions. School and day-care centre operations will continue, and the Länder will decide on the necessary protective measures.

Federal government grants extraordinary economic aid

The Federal Government will grant extraordinary economic aid to companies and institutions affected by the temporary closures. Existing aid measures for companies and institutions that continue to face considerable restrictions on their business operations will be extended. This applies, for example, to the cultural and event industry and to solo self-employed persons.

After two weeks, the Federal Government and the Länder will consult again and make any necessary adjustments. The complete decision of the Federal Government and the Länder can be viewed here.

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With the resolution of the Third Draft Law for the Protection of the Population in the Event of an Epidemic Situation of National Significance, the Federal Government intends, among other things, to improve the tracking of the occurrence of infections. For example, the digital entry registration is to be implemented to make it easier for the competent authorities to check quarantine orders after a stay in a risk area. In addition, anyone who has made an avoidable trip to a designated risk area 48 hours before the start of the trip and is subsequently quarantined will no longer receive compensation for the loss of earnings caused by the quarantine.

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Working parents who have to look after their child at home due to Corona-related day-care centre and school closures and who suffer a loss of earnings as a result are entitled to compensation since March 2020. The entitlement will initially continue until 31 March 2021 and will also apply to parents who looked after a quarantined child at home.

In addition, the draft law provides for vaccinations for uninsured persons and the expansion of laboratory capacities for tests, among other things.

 

+++ Wednesday, October 28th +++

In recent months, the carers have made "the very stressful situation for sick people, people in need of care, people with disabilities" as bearable as possible, emphasised Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in the run-up to a video conference with the members of the Concerted Action on Nursing. The Chancellor said she wanted to thank everyone for the extraordinary commitment of the people who work in the care sector. The restrictions imposed in recent months have served and continue to serve to protect society, especially vulnerable groups, Merkel explained. She was aware that "any interference with fundamental rights must be well justified and explained" and may only be temporary. While the protection of the population and especially of vulnerable groups is and remains an important concern, it must not lead to the separation of certain groups in society. The restrictions on contact in particular were "very burdensome" for people in hospitals, care institutions and hospices, said Merkel. Maintaining the social participation of all people in social life must always be taken into account in any protection concept, she said.

 

October 27th, 2020:

October 26th, 2020:

+++ Monday, October 26th +++

The number of new corona infections continues to increase strongly. Chancellor Angela Merkel therefore again appeals to citizens to refrain from unnecessary travel and celebrations. "My basic conviction has not changed, it is only more urgent to me today: We are not powerless against the virus, our behaviour decides how strong and how fast it spreads. And the imperative of the hour for all of us is to reduce contacts. Hit far fewer people. If we all stick to this, we will all together be able to meet the enormous challenge posed by this virus," Merkel emphasises in her latest video podcast.

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They support the tracking of infection chains, are deployed at test stations or help with the distribution of medical protective equipment: almost 2,000 members of all branches of the Bundeswehr are currently on corona duty.

The main focus is on the health authorities: Based on applications for administrative assistance from all 16 federal states, 1,561 soldiers alone are working in 137 health authorities, as the Federal Ministry of Defence informed the "Rheinische Post". Further requests can be expected to be approved and thus increasing support from the Bundeswehr.

The soldiers belong to the contingent "Hilfeleistung gegen Corona", which was set up in spring and has over 15,000 soldiers. The inspector of the Armed Forces Base, Lieutenant General Martin Schelleis, drew a positive interim balance in mid-October after six months of administrative assistance during the pandemic. The procedure was working, Schelleis said in an interview. "We stand ready when we are called upon.

 

+++ Friday, October 23rd +++

The president of the Robert Koch Institute, Professor Lothar Wieler, calls for the observance of distance, hygiene and masking rules. "At the moment we still have a chance to slow down the further spread of the virus. And everyone and everyone can contribute to this," he noted. Since the beginning of September, infection rates with the coronavirus have been rising faster and faster, in some places rapidly. Further developments cannot be predicted. "Today, with 11,287 cases, we have the highest number ever," Wieler said. Above all, the number of outbreaks in private households has increased significantly, for example at large celebrations with friends and family. "However, if we follow these AHA-plus-L rules, i.e. if we are careful, especially indoors, we are less likely to become infected," Wieler explained. This is good news, he said, because in this way we can do a lot ourselves to prevent infection.

According to the RKI President, Germany has come through the crisis relatively well so far. One reason is that the population is following the rules to contain the virus. And it is also because Germany has a good strategy that has proved its worth and will be continued. The strategy is based on three pillars:

- Containing the virus, for example by tracking contacts and breaking chains of infection

- Protection of vulnerable groups, for example through good hygiene concepts in old people's homes, nursing homes and hospitals

- Reducing disease progression, for example through better understanding of the disease and better therapeutic interventions

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Travel warnings will be issued for other regions of Europe due to increased corona incidence. As a result of the infection figures, the whole of Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, among others, will be classified as risk areas with effect from Saturday 24 October, with the exception of the other overseas territories, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

In Austria, the provinces of Salzburg, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Burgenland and Styria have been added as risk areas. Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna had been previously classified as such. In Italy, the regions of Valle d'Aosta, Umbria, Lombardy, Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto, Lazio, Abrruzzo, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Sardinia and the autonomous province of Bolzano are now also considered as risk areas.

The Canary Islands, which are part of Spain, are no longer considered as risk areas.

The German Federal Foreign Office provides an overview of the latest updates of the travel warnings. Information on travel advice and warnings can also be found in the FAQ of the Federal Foreign Office. An overview of current risk areas worldwide is provided by the Robert Koch Institute. The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.

 

22.10.2020

+++ Thursday, October 22nd +++

Small and medium-sized enterprises that have had to cease or severely reduce their business operations as a result of the Corona pandemic can receive comprehensive grants as a bridging aid. The German Government has extended and expanded the support for September to December 2020. It can be applied for as of today. SMEs and small enterprises in all sectors receive direct grants to cover their fixed operating costs via the bridging aid II, which do not have to be repaid. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier stressed: "We are not leaving our companies alone in the crisis.

The so-called bridging aid II ties in with bridging aid I (June-August 2020). The joint nationwide application platform www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de was launched on 8 July. There, tax consultants, auditors and certified accountants can submit applications for their clients. With the Bridging Assistance II, the Federal Government will in future also support measures for the temporary relocation of business operations to external locations. The risk of infection is lower there. Businesspeople who now buy outdoor tents or radiant heaters, for example, can receive support for this. This supplements the promotion of hygiene measures that were already possible before, such as the purchase of disinfectants and air filter systems. The conditions and the amount of support for the bridging aid have been improved once again.

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A funding programme, which Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters has designed together with the German Stage Association, is intended to help private theatres to cope with the crisis. This is because the more than 200 theatres that produce their own artistic productions have to accept considerable losses of income due to the applicable hygiene and distance regulations. Up to 30 million euros are available from the future programme "Neustart Kultur". Up to 80 percent of the expenditure for artistic staff in the 2020/2021 season will be funded, with a maximum grant of 140,000 euros. "With their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, German private theatres are of outstanding importance for cultural life in Germany," says Grütters.

 

+++ Wednesday, October 21th +++

Even in times of corona virus, resuscitation measures should be carried out in emergencies. The Federal Government Commissioner for Patients, Prof. Dr. Claudia Schmidtke, calls for this: "Potential first-aiders should not be deterred by the corona virus from starting resuscitation. Schmidtke advises: "The usual sequence "check - call - press" remains the same. However, an unconscious person without breathing should not be able to hear and feel breathing and mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose resuscitation should be avoided. After an emergency call has been made, it is crucial to carry out a continuous cardiac massage until professional helpers arrive on the scene and take over. For self-protection, the mouth and nose of the affected person can be covered with an air-permeable cloth. "I can only encourage each and every person to provide first aid in an emergency. You can save lives with it!"

 

+++ Tuesday, October 20th +++

With an update of the Corona Warning App, people in Germany now have the possibility to be informed in other European countries if they had a risk contact with a person using another European Warning App.  Connected are the apps from Germany, Italy and Ireland. Latvia, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Estonia and the Czech Republic will follow shortly. In principle, all EU countries that have chosen a decentralised approach for their warning app can participate.

As with the German Corona Warning App, data protection and a secure and efficient data exchange are top priorities for the European solution. The individual warning apps are connected exclusively to their own national backend server. They are not directly connected to each other. They exchange information via the EU gateway service. Only the absolutely necessary minimum of information (keys) is shared. The gateway service was developed and set up by SAP and Telekom and is managed by the EU Commission's data centre in Luxembourg.

 

+++ Monday, October 19th +++

Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey and Federal Minister for Health Jens Spahn have emphasised that day-care centres are systemically relevant. This makes it all the more important to maintain the regular operation of the day-care centres as long as possible and to avoid further closures across the country. Giffey and Spahn emphasised this in a joint press conference.

"Kitas are not a source of infection. And children are not drivers of infection," emphasised Family Minister Giffey. The hygiene rules were very well accepted there. Health Minister Spahn explained that children could of course also fall ill. But in families "it is usually the adults who bring the virus with them. Things are going very well in the day-care centres". Giffey and Spahn presented first results of an ongoing Corona day-care centre study by the Robert Koch Institute and the German Youth Institute. By the end of September, 12,000 child day-care centres throughout Germany had already participated in this study. The proportion of corona cases in day-care centres is far below average in comparison to other places.  According to the study, only 79 corona infections in day-care centres and after-school care centres have been reported in recent months. Most recently, there had only been an average of about six cases per week. According to Minister Spahn, only three percent of all corona cases in Germany affect small children up to five years of age.  Nevertheless, it is still very important to observe hygiene measures in day-care centres.

 

+++ Friday, October 16th +++

"The question of how we get out of this pandemic will determine the health of a great many people. The question of how many people have to die? And it also determines our economic performance", said Chancellor Angela Merkel after the first day of the European Council in Brussels. The Heads of State and Government had discussed intensively the respective national situations in the fight against the corona pandemic and had agreed on a more regular exchange, including via video conferences.
In view of the approaching winter and the fact that there will be many more contacts in rooms, Chancellor Merkel stressed that the challenge for all concerned is to ensure contact tracing, to send those who are infected into quarantine and thus prevent exponential, unchecked growth. You can see more about this in the Chancellor's statement in the video.

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Telephone sick leave due to cold symptoms is possible again nationwide from Monday. The Federal Joint Committee has agreed on this special regulation, which will initially apply until the end of the year - as was already the case in the initial phase of the coronavirus pandemic until the end of May. The doctors in private practice must personally ascertain the condition of the patients by means of a detailed telephone survey. Sick leave is available for up to seven days, a one-off extension for another seven days is also possible by telephone.
"We currently have an accelerating infection dynamic with the Covid-19 virus, but at the same time we also have increased flu-like infections. This parallel development is worrying. It is imperative that we interrupt them without compromising patient care," says Prof. Josef Hecken, impartial chairman of the board of doctors, clinics and health insurance companies. "If there is one thing we do not need in this serious situation, it is full waiting rooms."

 

+++ Thursday, October 15th +++

Chancellor Merkel has consulted with the heads of government of the Länder on the Corona situation. "We have to reduce the number of contacts where infection rates are high in order not to overload our health system," said the Chancellor. The Federal Government and the Länder had taken an important step with their decision. "We are in a phase of the pandemic that is serious," said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. She was convinced that what we do or don't do in these days and weeks will be decisive for how we get through the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Merkel discussed the current corona situation with the heads of government of the Länder.

The Chancellor appealed to the citizens to continue to follow the rules even in the crucial phase of autumn - keep your distance, observe hygiene, wear a mask for everyday life, use the corona warning app as a supplement and ventilate rooms regularly. It is also important to reduce the number of contacts in areas where infection rates are high, so as not to overload the health system and put the economy at greater risk.

In line with their hotspot strategy to combat the dynamics of infection, the Federal Government and the Länder decided, among other things, to limit, at the latest when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a week, the wearing of supplementary masks, a curfew at 11 pm and celebrations with family or friends.

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People who are vaccinated against influenza protect themselves and others and help to keep the flu epidemic as low as possible. "The fewer people who fall ill with influenza, the more capacity is available for other patients and especially for Covid-19 sufferers", said Federal Health Minister Spahn. In Germany, 26 million vaccine doses are available for the coming flu season - more than ever before. The vaccine doses will be gradually delivered to doctors' surgeries over the coming months. "We have taken timely precautions so that anyone who wants to be vaccinated can do so", said Mr Spahn. The Minister encouraged vaccination of those for whom the Standing Commission on Vaccination recommends vaccination, such as people aged 60 and over, pregnant women, medical staff and the chronically ill.

In addition to vaccination, the AHA rules are also an effective remedy against influenza: those who keep their distance, wash their hands frequently and wear their everyday mask protect themselves and others not only against corona but also against influenza. Regular airing is also important. We also recommend using the Corona-Warn App to combat corona. "Combined with the flu vaccination, we therefore have a good chance of a smaller flu epidemic than in previous years," said the Minister.

+++ Wednesday, October 14th +++

Whether poverty reduction, food security, education or health - the pressure to act has increased for many Agenda 2030 goals as a result of the corona pandemic, explained Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in her speech at the annual conference of the European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN). This was all the more true, she said, because the interim balance after four years of Agenda 2030 had already had to be critical at the sustainability summit in New York in September 2019. Europe had a pioneering role to play: "We must prove in practice that economic growth can be decoupled from emissions and resource consumption", said Merkel. Many actors around the world were closely watching how Europe was dealing with its responsibility.

She added that the pandemic did not make the challenges any easier - but every crisis was also an opportunity. The crisis demonstrates that greater resilience is linked to the need for greater sustainability. "Short-term crisis management and long-term investments in the future - we must think together, we must bring them together", Merkel said.

+++ Monday, October 12th +++

In some large cities, the number of infections is currently rising particularly sharply. In a switching conference, Chancellor Merkel and the mayors of the eleven largest German cities agreed to take targeted measures to counteract this development.

The results paper states that special restrictions will be required immediately if the incidence of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a week is reached at the latest. These include, in particular, extensions of the obligation to wear a mouth-nose cover, the introduction of contact restrictions in public places, the introduction of a curfew and/or alcohol restrictions for restaurants and bars, as well as further restrictions on the number of participants at events and, in particular, at celebrations, including in private settings. If, despite these measures, it is not possible to halt the increase in infection rates within 10 days, further targeted restriction measures are unavoidable in order to further reduce public contacts. After the consultations, Merkel announced that it had been agreed to hold another switching conference in a fortnight to see "where we have got to with the additional measures and what we have achieved".

"The infection figures are rising, but we are anything but powerless," Merkel stressed after the talks. "How Germany will fare in this pandemic in winter will be decided in these days and weeks. The goal is and remains "to keep the infection figures in an area in which each individual infection can be tracked, in which contact persons can be reached and warned and in which it is then possible to break through infection chains again. The Chancellor appealed especially to younger people to stick to the rules. "Everything will come back: Partying, going out, fun without corona rules," Merkel said. But now something else counts: "Mindfulness and cohesion, the simple basic rules of distance, hygiene and wearing masks, using the app and - new in the cold season - airing the rooms".

+++ Saturday, October 10th +++

Hospitals will receive three billion euros for an investment programme. The investment programme for digitisation and the strengthening of regional care structures is the central content of the Hospital Future Act, which has now been finally approved by the Federal Council. The law also provides for the extension of the entitlement to child health benefits: Employees who have to look after their sick child at home and are therefore unable to work are entitled to 15 working days in 2020, single parents to 30 working days. The Federal Government's aim is to modernise and improve hospital equipment. This includes both modern emergency capacities and a better digital infrastructure. In addition, among other things, legal framework conditions will be created for the proportional compensation of revenue losses which hospitals have suffered due to the coronavirus and which have not been compensated otherwise so far.

In addition, nursing staff in hospitals and clinics who were particularly burdened by the care of Covid-19 patients are to receive a bonus of up to 1,000 euros.

+++ Friday, October 9th +++

The Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, and the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, are very concerned about the recent increase in corona cases. Spahn said on Thursday that young people in particular are currently becoming infected, "partly because they consider themselves to be inviolable". "But they are not". A corona infection "is and remains a serious disease, especially for older people". And in Germany, he said, the generations are not separated from each other. The message to everyone is therefore: "It is not just about one person, it is also about protecting the others", said Spahn. The pandemic was a "test for our society".

Germany has so far come through the corona pandemic well, especially compared to its European neighbours. "There is hardly any other country in Europe that has managed to cope with this crisis so well so far", said Spahn.  Overall, there was a high acceptance of the measures among the citizens. Only through the prudent actions of the people, he said, had Germany come through the crisis so well so far. "The situation in large cities such as Berlin showed how developments could change if the pandemic was handled carelessly and sometimes ignorantly.

RKI President Wieler emphasised that the number of cases reported at the beginning of October had doubled compared to the previous month. "The incidence of infection is increasing in almost all regions, this is a matter of great concern to me". Most transmissions are currently taking place within Germany, only eight percent of all cases are due to holiday returns, Wieler said.  It was now particularly important to continue to observe the protective measures, said Health Minister Spahn. The AHA formula has proven to be effective: Distance, hygiene, everyday masks. In closed rooms and wherever a minimum distance is not always guaranteed, a mouth and nose protector helps to protect oneself and above all others. The formula is supplemented by +A for use with the Corona Warning App. Sufficient ventilation must also be provided in enclosed spaces.

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The Federal Government is providing a total of 750 million euro with the special programme for the development of vaccines against Covid-19. The three pharmaceutical companies CureVac, BioNTech and IDT Biologika are being funded. "I am pleased that we are able to support three projects for the development of a vaccine within the framework of this programme, which rely on different technologies," said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. Representatives of the three companies presented the current state of development to the Minister in a video conference. BionTech is currently in clinical phase 3, CureVac started clinical phase 2a at the end of September. IDT Biologika received approval to conduct the first clinical phase at the end of September. Karliczek emphasised that in the development and approval of a vaccine, safety comes before speed. "With this programme, we will accelerate the development of a vaccine against Covid-19 - but without taking risks. Safety has absolute priority! A vaccine can only be used if the proven benefits clearly outweigh the potential risks".

+++ Thursday, October 8th +++

Starting with the colder season, the incidence of infections is also increasing again in Germany. Particularly in some metropolitan areas and conurbations, the number of infections is rising, sometimes sharply. In their resolution, the Federal Government and the Länder confirm that they are countering this development with the decisions already taken and the hotspot strategy contained therein. Accordingly, the Länder will take consistent local restriction measures - at the latest as soon as the infection rate rises above the limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within the last seven days. The Federal Government and the Länder call on all citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to and from risk areas. Tourist travellers from a risk area should only be allowed to stay in an accommodation establishment if they can show a negative corona test not older than 48 hours. Five Länder made additional declarations.

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Closed day-care centres and schools, home office and child care: In order to support families in the corona pandemic, the Federal Government has decided on a child bonus of 300 euro per child. The second instalment is now being paid out. Parents already received the first instalment of 200 euros per child in September. Payment of the second instalment of another 100 euros per child will now start. As a rule, the bonus is paid out automatically by the relevant family insurance fund. The child bonus is one of many measures of the Federal Government's economic stimulus package to cope with the Corona pandemic. The bonus is paid for all children who are entitled to child benefit for at least one calendar month in 2020. The exact payment dates for the child bonus depend on the final digit of the child benefit number.

+++ Wednesday, October 7th +++

Following the severe recession caused by the corona pandemic in the first half of 2020, the German economy is gradually recovering. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office, the manufacturing industry recorded a 4.5 percent increase in orders in August 2020 compared with the previous month. This is the fourth consecutive month of rising orders. In a two-month comparison of July/August compared to May/June there was an increase of 18.9 percent. At the same time, the order intake is still 3.6 per cent below the pre-crisis level. "The catching-up process of incoming orders in the manufacturing industry continues at a remarkable pace", the Federal Ministry of Economics explained. The positive development is mainly due to increased demand from abroad. Orders received from the euro zone increased by 14.6 percent.

The automotive industry, the largest sector of manufacturing industry, has now returned to pre-crisis levels with a renewed increase of 0.9 per cent. The mechanical engineering sector recorded an increase of 11.4 per cent in August compared to the previous month, but is still almost six per cent below the level of February 2020.

In her welcoming address at Industry Day 2020, Chancellor Merkel thanked for the constructive cooperation in overcoming the crisis. She said it was not only a matter of reaching pre-crisis levels, "but also of opening up new avenues through long-term investments". Merkel mentioned in particular "innovations in the digital sector, artificial intelligence and quantum technology". The Federal Government had therefore not only launched a comprehensive economic stimulus package but also a programme for the future.

With a future programme worth €50 billion, the Federal Government is funding research and development in the fields of quantum computing and artificial intelligence. It also plans to increase the use of hydrogen energy and improve the promotion of electric vehicles. The Future Programme is part of the Federal Government's package of measures to cope with the consequences of the corona pandemic.

+++ Monday, October, 5th +++

"The fact that I had to tell people that you were only allowed to be on the street as a household or in pairs, that no events were allowed to take place, that children were not allowed to visit their parents in the retirement home - these were serious restrictions," said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. In an interview with Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, she also pointed out that there had never been a situation in post-war Germany where schools had been closed for so long. With regard to protests against the Corona measures, the Chancellor said that it was worthwhile trying to win people back to the democratic debate through talks.

+++ Friday, October 2nd +++

"We need effective concepts in order to be able to treat people suffering from Covid-19 in the best possible way," says Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. The National Network of University Medicine on Covid-19 was founded to pool the expertise of German university hospitals. "The University Medicine Network is unique in this form," Karliczek continues. "All German university hospitals are part of this network. They exchange their knowledge and experience in the treatment of Covid-19 patients and thus continuously learn with and from each other".
The aim of the network is to bring together and evaluate data, findings, action plans, diagnostic and treatment strategies of as many German university hospitals as possible and, if necessary, other actors. This pooling of knowledge, skills and resources is intended to create structures and processes in the clinics that ensure the best possible care for Covid-19 patients.

+++ Thursday, October 1st +++

As of today, differentiated travel and safety instructions and travel warnings for individual countries are again in force. They thus replace the blanket travel warning for the more than 160 non-European countries, which existed until 30 September.
Each country will now again be assessed individually. A travel warning will only be issued for countries that exceed the limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. This currently applies to more than 130 countries in whole or in part (as of 1 October 2020).
For some countries, travel is discouraged regardless of the level of infection. There are still restrictions on entry or a ban on leaving the EU. These countries include Thailand, a popular destination for many holidaymakers (as of 1 October 2020).
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In order to successfully combat the corona pandemic worldwide, globally equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines is of great importance. Chancellor Merkel stressed this at an event on the fringes of the "Week for the Global Initiative for the Development and Distribution of Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics" (ACT-A) of the United Nations.
Merkel pointed out that the financial needs of the initiative demonstrate the need for further efforts. For Germany, the Chancellor announced that the 100 million euros that Germany had pledged as special funding for Gavi to combat COVID-19 at the beginning of June will be used in full to provide vaccines for developing countries (COVAX AMC).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it has received pledges of almost one billion dollars for its action plan against the corona pandemic. A further $35 billion is needed to accelerate action against Covid-19, according to the WHO and its partners in the Tools Accelerator initiative. This initiative aims to provide two billion doses of vaccine, 245 million corona treatments and 500 million test kits to low and middle income countries.

+++ Wednesday, September 30th +++

Germany has come through the coronavirus pandemic relatively well so far, thanks in particular to the extraordinary sense of responsibility shown by its citizens in recent months - as Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out in the German Bundestag on Wednesday. However, in autumn and also in view of the rising number of infections, a difficult time lies ahead.
In her speech in the general debate, the Chancellor called on citizens to continue to act patiently and sensibly and thus save lives. "I appeal to all of you: stick to the rules that must continue to apply for the time being. Let us all, as citizens of this society, take more care of each other again", she said. Life as we knew it would come back and what a joy it would be. It would continue to depend on each and every one of us, the Chancellor said.

+++ Tuesday, September 29th +++

The Federal Cabinet had decided to put a lot of money into doing the right thing to deal with the consequences of corona - this was declared by Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in the German Bundestag on Tuesday. "Action costs money. But it would cost even more money not to act," he said in his speech on the presentation of the 2021 federal budget.
Scholz pointed out that extensive aid had been made available to companies to help them get through the crisis and to maintain jobs and employment. He said it was necessary to act for the coming year as well, as had been done, for example, with the extension of the regulations on short-time working allowances. Even with high investments from public funds, the Federal Government would ensure that the economy and the economy in Germany were stabilised.
"After the financial crisis, we have managed to emerge from the crisis and get our budget in order. And we will do it again this time," said Scholz.

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New travel warnings are now in force for other regions in the European Union due to increased corona incidence. Due to a strong increase in infection numbers, the whole of the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and the Austrian province of Tyrol have been classified as a Covid 19 risk area.
Already during the week, existing travel warnings for parts of France, Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania were extended. Regions of Denmark (including Copenhagen), Portugal (including Lisbon), Ireland (including Dublin) and Slovenia were classified as risk areas for the first time. In total, 15 out of 27 EU countries are now at least partially designated as risk areas.
The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.

+++ Friday, September 25th +++

The Ifo Business Climate is a highly regarded indicator of economic development in Germany. The Ifo Business Climate Index is published monthly. The managers assessed the outlook for their business and their situation as more favourable than recently: The index rose to 93.4 points in September from 92.5 points in the previous month, the fifth consecutive rise. This was announced by the Munich-based institute.
The German economy had slumped by a record 9.7 per cent in spring due to the corona pandemic. Economists and the Federal Government expect strong growth for the summer quarter that is coming to an end. The Ifo Institute, for example, anticipates growth of 6.6 percent. Nevertheless, there is likely to be a severe recession in 2020 as a whole, with the economy slumping by five to six per cent.

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The experts from the four major German non-university research organisations have used the available data on the Covid 19 pandemic to model how the pandemic could develop in Germany. In doing so, they analysed the current situation and worked out which factors would have a decisive influence on the further course of the pandemic.
According to the scientists' opinion, increasing case numbers would again cause considerable health, social, psychological and economic costs. "This can be prevented", says the opinion. To achieve this, the number of new infections must be kept low. This can be achieved by respecting hygiene and distance rules, wearing a mouth and nose protector, following infection chains, isolating suspected and infected cases and avoiding superspreading events.
An important conclusion of the scientists: "If each person contributes according to his or her ability, SARS-CoV-2 can be kept under control".

+++ Thursday, September 24th +++

New travel warnings now apply to additional regions of eleven EU countries due to increased corona incidence. Existing travel warnings for parts of France, Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania have been extended. Regions in Denmark (including Copenhagen), Portugal (including Lisbon), Ireland (including Dublin) and Slovenia have been classified as risk areas for the first time. In total, 14 out of 27 EU countries are now at least partially designated as risk areas again.

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With a funding programme totalling 500 million euro up to 2024, the German government intends to support the Corona-compatible conversion and upgrading of ventilation and air-conditioning systems in public buildings and places of assembly. An investment subsidy of 40 percent is planned for this purpose. "The hygiene of indoor air is of great importance for infection control - especially if we are all going to spend more time indoors again soon," says Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier.
Funding is available for HVAC systems in buildings and assembly rooms of federal states and municipalities as well as for institutions which are predominantly publicly financed by means of participation or in some other way and which are not economically active. These can be, for example, canteens, lecture halls and auditoriums. A maximum limit of 100,000 euros applies to funding. The funding directive is to enter into force as early as mid-October. Applications for subsidies can then be submitted until the end of 2021.

+++ Wednesday, September 23rd +++

The draft budget for 2021 provides for a total of €413.4 billion. This is almost 19 percent less than this year, but more than € 43 billion more than originally estimated. In the next year and in the coming years until 2024, among other things, the measures decided by the Federal Government against the consequences of the corona pandemic will be continued and financed. "Our budgetary policy has so far brought Germany through the crisis comparatively well - we are continuing on this path," said Federal Finance Minister Scholz.
Investments in road, rail and waterways are planned, among other things. The Länder are also to be supported in childcare, education and research. The digital infrastructure and the climate-friendly restructuring of the economy are also to be promoted. Investments of 55 billion euro are planned for 2021 and 48 billion euro in the following years.
Due to the exceptional emergency situation, the Federal Government plans to take on debts of 92.6 billion euro for the projects in 2021. From 2022 the debt rule is to be fully complied with again.

+++ Tuesday, September 22nd +++

The Federal Government intends to invest a total of 6.5 billion euro in digitisation in schools. Among other things, 500 million euro are to be invested so that terminal equipment for teachers can be purchased this year. Overall, "a very ambitious programme" had been discussed, said Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek on Tuesday after the Chancellor's meeting with the Länder ministers of education.

The projects include the establishment of a competence centre and a networked education platform. In addition, the funds from the Digital Pact should be able to flow by the end of next year without the schools having to submit a pedagogical concept beforehand. The Federal Government also wants to support the Länder by investing 500 million euro in technical support.

Some things have already been initiated, said Karliczek: for example, the acquisition of digital terminals at schools that can lend them to needy children. The funding for administrators is also close to completion. At the beginning of the new year, they want to meet again in the same round to discuss the status of implementation, said Karliczek.

+++ Saturday, September 19th +++

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has emphasised the importance of improved digital equipment in schools. Children should not be the losers of the Corona pandemic, Merkel emphasises in her current video podcast. The restrictions to contain the pandemic had particularly affected day-care centres and schools. "From one day to the next, everyday school life had to be completely switched to learning at home," says Merkel.
It had become clear how important learning with digital media and digital education formats was - but also what was not yet working. "Therefore, we have to push ahead with the digitisation of schools at full speed. We need them as an indispensable complement to face-to-face teaching," said the Chancellor.
The Federal Government was supporting the Länder with massive investments. Within the Digital Pact for Schools alone, it was providing a total of six billion euro for the establishment of digital learning and infrastructure at general and vocational schools.
Next Monday, the Chancellor will meet the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder. "We have concrete ideas which we want to talk about: All schools should be connected to the fast Internet as soon as possible". In addition, all teachers need the right computers for digital teaching, says Merkel.

+++ Friday, September 18th +++

An investment programme for digitisation and for strengthening regional care structures - these are the central contents of the Hospital Future Act, which has now been approved by the Bundestag. It also provides for an extension of the entitlement to child health benefits by five days per parent.
The Federal Government's aim is to modernise and improve the equipment of hospitals. This includes both modern emergency capacities and an improved digital infrastructure. In addition, it creates, among other things, a legal framework for the proportional compensation of declining revenues which the hospitals have suffered due to the corona virus and which have not been compensated otherwise so far. In addition, nursing staff in hospitals and clinics who were particularly burdened by the care of Covid-19 patients are to receive a bonus of up to 1,000 euros.

+++ Thursday, September 17th +++

Some European regions are now subject to new travel warnings due to increased corona incidence. Existing travel warnings for parts of France have been extended. Also affected are the federal state of Vienna in Austria as well as the Hungarian capital Budapest and parts of the Netherlands (status: 17.09.2020). In addition, other European regions have been designated as risk areas and travel warnings have been issued for these areas. An overview of current risk areas worldwide can be found here at the Robert Koch Institute.
The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.
Information on travel advice and warnings can be found in the FAQ of the Federal Foreign Office.

+++

Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer welcomes the agreement of the federal states on the return of sports fans in stadiums and halls. "For me, sport without an audience is inconceivable in the long term, because it shapes our culture. We want to make social life possible again without neglecting infection control," said Seehofer.  
The resolution recommends that sports facilities should be used at most 20 percent of their capacity. The concept also includes taking into account the regional pandemic events and the capacity of local health authorities to track contact persons. It also provides for a ban on alcohol and measures to maintain a 1.5 metre distance. A six-week test phase is initially planned. The situation will be reassessed at the end of October.

+++ Wednesday, September 16th +++

Many regulations on short-time working allowances are limited in time and expire at the end of the year. In order to continue the successful measures, the Federal Cabinet has adopted the draft Employment Protection Act and two ordinances.
The package is intended to extend the following regulations, among others, until 31 December 2021:
- the simplified access conditions to short-time working allowance
- the increase in short-time working compensation
- the opening up of short-time working allowances for temporary workers
"Short-time work is our model for success, with which we are securing the livelihood of millions of employees and their families. We will continue to pursue this path," said Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil on the cabinet decision.
In addition, the Federal Government is creating incentives for companies to make use of short-time work and invest in further training. "In this way, short-time work will not only become a bridge over a deep economic valley, but also a way into the future," said the Minister.

+++ Tuesday, September 15th +++

The safety of a vaccine comes before the speed of approval, Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and the President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute responsible for vaccine approvals, Klaus Cichutek, emphasised at a joint press conference. "Only safe vaccines are accepted by the population", said Karliczek. There would be no risky shortcuts in the approval process. Spahn and Karliczek were very confident that a safe and effective corona vaccine will be available in large quantities by mid 2021.
The Federal Minister of Health stressed that the vaccination would be voluntary: "Where voluntary action leads to the goal, there is no need for a commitment". He was convinced that voluntary vaccination would achieve herd immunity. This would require 55 to 60 percent of the population to be vaccinated.
As Spahn and Karliczek announced on Tuesday, the Federal Government is supporting the vaccine developers BioNTech from Mainz with 375 million euro. CureVac from Tübingen will receive 230 million euros from the special vaccine development programme. Funding discussions with the third vaccine developer, IDT Biologika from Dessau, have not yet been concluded.

+++

At the invitation of Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters, the Ministers of Culture of the EU member states discussed measures to strengthen culture in the face of the Corona pandemic. At their meeting in Berlin, they exchanged national experiences and successful strategies for resuming cultural activities.

Staasminister Grütters also provided information on the German future programme "Neustart Kultur", for which the Federal Government is providing a total of one billion euros. "Culture is the heart of Europe", said Grütters, "There is a consensus that the cultural and creative sector must be given appropriate consideration in European reconstruction aid.

For more information, please contact the Minister of State for Culture and Media.

+++ Monday, September 14th +++

The current corona crisis clearly shows how much health care systems depend on effective measures in the fight against pandemic infectious diseases. This is particularly true when pathogens with a high infection potential such as SARS-CoV-2 are involved, according to the Federal Ministry of Research. In order to better meet current challenges in diagnostics, prevention or mobile care, applied research and development will be strengthened - with an additional 20 million euros.

"To combat Covid-19 and future waves of infection, we are also dependent on innovative medical technology. These are products that help in health care by physical means - such as ventilators or PCR tests," says Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek.

You can read more about this at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

+++

Some European regions are now subject to new travel warnings due to increased corona incidence. Existing travel warnings for parts of France have been extended. The regions concerned are Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes, Occitanie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Corsica. The travel warnings for the capital region of Île-de-France and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region remain in place.

The Federal Foreign Office is also warning against travel to the Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud. Other areas in Croatia have also been added due to increased case numbers: Dubrovnik-Neretva and Požega-Slavonia. The Zadar, Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia regions are also affected. A travel warning has also been issued for part of the Czech Republic. Here, a warning has been issued against unnecessary tourist travel to the capital region of Prague.

In addition, travel warnings have been issued for other European regions and a large number of countries outside the European Union due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.

+++ Friday, September 11th +++

The results of the 158th tax estimate show that Germany is financially well positioned despite the Corona crisis. According to the forecast, tax revenues this year are stable compared to the regular May tax estimate. Lower revenues from 2021 to 2024 are not as strong as feared. They are largely due to the relief measures adopted by the Federal Government and are therefore intended - because they are intended to secure the liquidity of citizens and companies.

Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz stressed: "The Federal Government is doing everything to ensure that Germany emerges from the crisis well and with momentum. This requires unprecedented efforts, but we can cope with them". The figures in the tax estimate and the improved economic forecasts showed that the aid is getting through and is having an impact. The tax estimate is also an important basis for the 2021 federal budget, which Scholz will present to the cabinet on 23 September. For the current year, the "Tax Estimates" working group is expecting federal revenues of 275.3 billion euros. For the state as a whole (federal/state and local authorities) it is 717 billion euro. For the coming year, revenues for the Federation are forecast at 295.2 billion euro, and 772.9 billion euro for the state as a whole. In 2019 the federal government had still collected 329 billion euro.

+++

Some European regions are now subject to new travel warnings due to increased corona incidence. Existing travel warnings for parts of France have been extended. The regions concerned are Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes, Occitanie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Corsica. The travel warnings for the capital region of Île-de-France and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region remain in place. The Federal Foreign Office is also warning against travel to the Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud. Other areas in Croatia have also been added due to increased case numbers: Dubrovnik-Neretva and Požega-Slavonia. The Zadar, Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia regions are also affected. A travel warning has also been issued for part of the Czech Republic. Here, a warning has been issued against unnecessary tourist travel to the capital region of Prague.

In addition, travel warnings have been issued for other European regions and a large number of countries outside the European Union due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following a joint agreement between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on an examination of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.

+++ Thursday, September 10th +++

From 1 October, all countries will have a uniform system of travel warnings and alerts based on the Covid 19 risks:

- For countries designated as risk areas, i.e. the vast majority of third countries - i.e. all countries outside the EU, the Schengen associated countries and the United Kingdom - the travel warning for unnecessary tourist travel will continue to apply in principle.

- For countries that are not designated as risk areas, non-essential tourist travel can be discouraged if entry restrictions to Germany apply to these countries or, conversely, these countries have adopted entry restrictions from Germany. The overall view of the situation in the respective country (e.g. equipment of the health system, previous handling of sources of infection) is also taken into account.

- For all other countries: Travellers are asked to exercise special caution.

The Robert Koch Institute publishes international risk areas following joint coordination between the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The definition of risk areas is based on a consideration of the infection figures and a qualitative assessment. The Federal Foreign Office contributes observations and assessments of the handling of the infection situation abroad. Health protection remains the main objective of the travel and safety instructions.

+++

The Federal Cabinet has extended the simplified access to basic provision until the end of the year. For applicants, this means that

- the asset audits were only carried out to a limited extent, and

- the actual expenses for accommodation and heating are covered.

With the Social Protection Package I, the Federal Government had considerably simplified access to basic provision for jobseekers and to social assistance in the spring. It thus offers protection to people who have fallen on hard times as a result of the pandemic - in particular the self-employed, employees on low incomes and those who were previously in precarious employment. Regulations are also extended until 31 December for lunch for schoolchildren and day-care centre children who are entitled to benefits from the education package, as well as for people in workshops for the disabled.

+++

In order to avoid unnecessary risks for social institutions such as sheltered workshops for the disabled, providers of vocational integration measures or integration courses suffering from the consequences of the Corona pandemic, the Federal Cabinet has decided to extend financial support for a limited period until the end of the year. The scheme would have expired on 30 September. Due to the pandemic, social institutions were often unable to provide their usual services. Some institutions therefore suffer serious financial losses or are even threatened with insolvency. At the end of March, the Federal Government had already decided to support social service providers in order to ensure their continued existence. Under a provision in the Social Protection Package I, it obliged service providers such as the German Pension Insurance, the Federal Employment Agency and the social welfare offices to pay the institutions subsidies of up to 75 per cent of the contractual benefits previously paid. Provided that all other Corona assistance has already been exhausted. In return, the institutions are to use all the capacities at their disposal - manpower, premises and material resources - to help cope with the pandemic.

+++

A possible vaccine against Covid-19 may be tested in Germany in a Phase II clinical trial. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs, has granted authorisation for its vector vaccine to Janssen, a pharmaceutical company based in Neuss (North Rhine-Westphalia). A vector vaccine involves the addition of an attenuated, well known virus. This will allow the vaccinated persons to produce their own immune response to the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

Vaccine candidates have to undergo several phases of testing, as they must be effective and safe. Only after successful testing in the laboratory and on animals can testing with humans begin. In Phase I, a small number of healthy people are vaccinated with the vaccine candidate. If this is successful, Phase II can start with significantly more volunteers. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 170 vaccine developments against the corona virus have started worldwide. 34 vaccine candidates are currently in clinical trials, 145 vaccine candidates are being tested in preclinical studies (as of 8 September 2020).

+++ Wednesday, September 9th +++

A total of four billion euros will be spent to strengthen the public health service by 2026. Chancellor Merkel explained this at the video conference with representatives of the Federal Government, the Länder, local authorities and health institutions. Among other things, these funds are to be used to create 5,000 new full-time permanent jobs. In addition, digitisation in the health sector is to be promoted through modern and networked IT systems. "You have played a major role in the fact that we have been able to and are still able to keep the incidence of infections in Germany largely under control and that we will hopefully continue to succeed in this way," Federal Chancellor Merkel addressed the Public Health Service in her welcoming statement. The virtual conference was intended to serve as a forum for exchange. The continued support of the health service by the Federal Government, the Länder and local umbrella organisations was the main focus. In addition, five public health offices presented concepts on how they envisage new ways of structurally improving their work.

+++ Tuesday, September 8th +++

Around 18 million children in Germany will receive the child bonus. It amouants to 300 euros and is paid for each child for whom there is a claim to child benefit for at least one calendar month in 2020. The bonus is paid in two instalments - 200 euros in September and 100 euros in October. The payment starts on this Monday and is usually paid automatically via the family insurance funds. In addition to child benefit and child supplement, the child bonus provides financial support to many families, says Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey. "Especially in times of financial shortage, every euro is welcome to buy something for the children or to do something together," she says.  Why is the child bonus paid in two instalments? Is it credited against social benefits?

+++

The German government is expanding its corona aid for India. 330,000 test kits and 600,000 protective equipment for medical staff are to be made available to the country particularly affected by the pandemic, as announced by Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller. "Every day, more than 70,000 new infections are reported - as many as in no other country", Müller told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group. "Now it's a matter of slowing down further spread." The measures are financed from the Corona Emergency Programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. In addition, there are to be short-term loans of 460 million euros for India. "In this way, we are working together to help distribute food to 800 million people and provide bridging aid to 320 million people who lost their jobs in the Corona crisis," said Müller.

+++ Monday, September 7th +++

By the end of next year, at least 1500 new jobs are to be created in the Länder and filled with doctors and specialist and administrative staff. At least another 3500 full-time positions are to be created by the end of 2022. In addition, investments are to be made in the digitisation of the health authorities. This is what the Federal and Länder ministers of health agreed on in the Pact for the Public Health Service. The Federal Government provides four billion euro in the Pact. "Our goal is a networked system of modern health authorities throughout Germany", said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. In her current video podcast, Chancellor Angela Merkel also underlined: "The corona pandemic shows how important the work of the health authorities is. They make a great contribution. The Federal Government wants to further strengthen the public health service, said the Chancellor.

+++

Nursing staff who were particularly burdened by the care of Covid-19 patients are to receive a bonus of up to 1,000 euros. A sum of 100 million euros will be made available for this purpose. The GKV-Spitzenverband and the Deutsche Krankenhausgesellschaft presented a corresponding concept on 3 September. The bonus is to benefit above all nursing staff who provide "care at the bedside". Eligible nurses are selected by the hospital owners in consultation with the employee representatives. They also define the individual premium amount for the nursing staff - depending on the burden caused by the pandemic. In order to acknowledge the work in nursing care for the elderly, the Bundestag had already decided on a bonus in May at the suggestion of Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil. Depending on the type and scope of work, employees receive up to 1,500 euros in bonuses. Nursing facilities are responsible for applying for and paying out the bonus. Around 700 million euros have now been paid out.

+++ Friday, September 4th +++

Due to the current infection situation, the Robert Koch Institute has declared the whole of Spain a risk area. The German Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist trips to the country. According to the Federal Foreign Office, there are regional centres of infection throughout Spain, particularly in the Autonomous Communities of Cantabria, Castile and Leon, La Rioja, Navarre, the Basque Country, the capital region of Madrid and the Canary Islands, with the emphasis on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. In Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca is particularly affected. The latest travel warnings from the Federal Foreign Office can be found here. An overview of international risk areas is also available from the Robert Koch Institute. Further information on travel can be found here.

Anyone entering Germany from a risk area must go into quarantine and inform their local health authority. Since 8 August, anyone entering Germany from a risk area must also submit a negative corona test which is not older than 48 hours or be tested for corona infection within 72 hours of arrival. If the test result is negative, the quarantine can be lifted. From 1 October, it should be possible to lift the quarantine after five days at the earliest with a negative test.

For travellers returning from a country that is not a risk area, the possibility of having themselves tested free of charge after entering Germany ends on 15 September 2020.

+++ Thursday, September 3rd +++

The law on mitigating the consequences of the corona pandemic in insolvency law is to be extended until 31 December 2020. In March this year, the law suspended the obligation to file for insolvency for companies that have become insolvent as a result of the corona virus pandemic and yet still have prospects of being able to restructure themselves by taking advantage of state aid offers or by other means. The extension would only apply to companies that are over-indebted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic without being insolvent. This is because, unlike insolvent companies, over-indebted companies have a chance of averting insolvency permanently. Companies that are insolvent, on the other hand, are already unable to pay their due liabilities. The draft bill is now to be brought before the Bundestag by the coalition parties and will be dealt with swiftly.

+++

An investment programme for digitisation and for strengthening regional care structures - these are the central contents of the Hospital Future Act. The Cabinet has adopted a corresponding draft. It also provides for an extension of the entitlement to child health benefits by five days per parent. The Federal Government's aim is to modernise and improve the equipment of hospitals. This includes both modern emergency capacities and an improved digital infrastructure. In addition, a legal framework is being created for the pro rata compensation of declining revenues which the hospitals have suffered due to the coronavirus and which have not been compensated otherwise. In addition, regulations in the care sector will be extended to compensate for financial losses of care facilities due to the corona pandemic.

+++

The Federal Government is providing up to 25 million euro to support cultural centres, literature houses and socio-cultural centres in making the necessary investments to enable them to resume operations during the Corona pandemic. "As meeting places, cultural centres, houses of literature or socio-cultural centres bring together very different population groups. In this way they strengthen not only neighbourly but also, and above all, social cohesion in a district or municipality", said Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters. This important basic cultural work must not be lost.  Among other things, support is being provided for protective measures in the cash desk and sanitary areas or the installation of ventilation systems. Up to 100,000 euros can be provided per institution. The funding line is part of the major economic stimulus package Neustart Kultur.

+++ Wednesday, September 2nd +++

Although the gross domestic product is expected to fall by 5.8 percent this year due to corona. However, the recession already bottomed out in May. For the coming year, the German government expects growth of 4.4 per cent. According to Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Peter Altmaier, this upward trend shows that the aid provided by the Federal Government is reaching people and companies and providing clear impetus. Germany's economy could already return to its pre-crisis level at the beginning of 2022. The Federal Government does not expect that such far-reaching restrictions will be necessary again in the further course of the crisis as they were at the beginning of the pandemic. If necessary, targeted and regionally limited measures should help to ensure that the economic recovery can continue. Altmaier thanked the people for their responsible actions in recent months. In view of the rising number of infections, however, he reminded them to remain vigilant so as not to jeopardise the successes.

+++

At the beginning of the pandemic, some day-care centres were closed for weeks. This should be avoided at all costs in the new day care centre year and the start of regular operation - in order to be able to support children and relieve the burden on parents. At its kick-off meeting, the new Corona day-care centre council argued that everything possible must be done to prevent further closures across the board. In the future, measures to contain infections should only be taken locally or regionally.  Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey had initiated the Council. It is to monitor the regular operation in the day-care centres and evaluate it nationwide. The Council comprises experts from the Federation, Länder and local authorities, trade unions, funding organisations and the scientific community. "We are able to take a comprehensive look at which measures are successful and where we can support the practice even more", explained Giffey. With a view to the approaching autumn, the Minister pleaded for a coordinated approach in the day-care centres for dealing with cold symptoms. The Corona Kitchen Council would also provide impulses for this.

+++

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn warns against regarding the demonstrations in Berlin this weekend as exemplary for the overall mood in the country. "We see in surveys and I sense in events that there is a great deal of support for our policy overall", the Federal Minister of Health said in an interview. "We must not take these pictures as the overall mood in the country. Admittedly, there is criticism that can be dealt with. But where "pure hatred" is to be experienced, there can be no more discussion, Spahn stressed. Following the incidents at the weekend, numerous ministers voiced criticism of the demonstration participants. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert described the pictures of anti-democrats in front of parliament as "disgraceful".

+++ Tuesday, September 1st +++

„The right to demonstrate is a valuable asset even in a pandemic. It was abused by some people at the weekend,“ said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday. The pictures of anti-democrats in front of the parliament had been „disgraceful“. „Our thanks and appreciation go to the police officers.“ Following the incidents at the weekend, numerous ministers took the floor at the beginning of the week and criticised the events in Berlin, especially in the Reichstag. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said: „Diversity of opinion is a hallmark of a healthy society. But freedom of assembly has its limits where state rules are trampled underfoot“, Seehofer said.  „Nazi symbols, Reich citizens' flags and flags of the Empire have absolutely no place in the German Bundestag,“ said Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The Basic Law guaranteed freedom of opinion and the right to demonstrate. It was the answer to the failure of the Weimar Republic and the horrors of the Nazi era, said Scholz. „The intolerable image of Reich citizens and neo-Nazis in front of the Reichstag must not be repeated - not in front of Parliament and never in Parliament“, said Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht in an interview. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also stressed: „Reich flags in front of Parliament are shameful. Everyone had the right to argue about how to deal with Corona and to demonstrate for their opinion. However: „Nobody should chase after right-wing extremists, endanger police officers and expose many to the risk of infection“, said Maas.

+++

Following the support programme for the dance sector, the Federal Government is now also launching a programme for guest performance and touring theatre to the tune of up to 20 million euros. The „Theatre on the Move“ programme is part of the Neustart Kultur future package, which has a budget of one billion euros. Guest performance theatres can each receive up to 200,000 euros to resume touring under the corona-related restrictions. „After the approximately 400 guest performance theatres without their own ensembles in Germany had to close down due to the corona crisis, the ensembles and theatres specialising in guest performances lost every opportunity to perform. De facto, theatre no longer takes place at all in many regions,“ says Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters. A resumption of guest performances is often not financially viable on its own in view of the clearly limited audience numbers.

+++ Monday, August 31st +++

The Corona pandemic has threatened the existence of numerous non-profit institutions for child and youth education. These include, for example, youth hostels, rural school homes, youth education centres and initiatives for family leisure activities. In order to support these in the short term, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs has set up a 100 million euro emergency programme. The effects of the standstill and the continuing restrictions have hit the non-profit organisations hard, explained Federal Family Minister Giffey. „It is important to me that these places are preserved. I will therefore help the affected organisations quickly and unbureaucratically,“ emphasised Giffey. The funds can be applied for from 1 September. The special programme will provide assistance to an estimated 2,000 non-profit organisations with a total of over 200,000 beds. The support refers to financial shortages from April to December 2020.

+++

The corona pandemic had confronted states, societies and economies around the world with unprecedented challenges and dramatically changed lives for everyone, Chancellor Merkel said at the beginning of the summer press conference. In future - in autumn and winter - it will therefore be important to keep the number of infections low. „It is serious, as serious as ever, and continue to take it seriously,“ stressed Merkel.

For the coming period, the Chancellor formulated three goals that were of particular importance to her: Education - whether day-care centre or school - must be one of the most important. Because children must not be the losers of the pandemic. The Federal Government would also support this with a digital procurement programme. In addition, the aim was to keep the economy going or get it going again: to preserve the substance of the companies, the basis of prosperity and jobs. The third priority in the pandemic is to maintain social cohesion as far as possible. It is particularly important that vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, those in need of care and relatives, families with children, students, job-seekers, small businesses, artists, etc. continue to benefit from support.

Together, however, citizens and the state have so far managed to cope well with this crisis - measured against the challenge - so far. Overstretched and overburdened hospitals have so far been spared Germany because of the strong health system. Above all, however, the vast majority of people in Germany have contributed to this by showing reason, responsibility and humanity. „I will always be grateful for this millionfold reaction of people,“ said Merkel.

+++ Friday, August 28th +++

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of government of the Länder have agreed on further measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in Germany. According to the agreement, the quarantine obligation for travellers returning from risk areas will continue to apply immediately after their return - and the testing obligation will also remain in place for the time being. In future, returnees from risk areas will be able to end their quarantine at the earliest by a test from the fifth day after their return. The implementation of this regulation should take place on 1 October 2020 if possible. As of 15 September, non-risk area returnees will no longer be able to have a free corona test.

The Federal Government and the Länder also appeal to all citizens: wherever possible, travel to designated risk areas should be avoided.

The need to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres remains. The Länder will set the minimum regular fine for violations of the mask obligation at at least 50 euros. Saxony-Anhalt has announced not to introduce a fine.

In addition, the Federal Government and the Länder agreed to ban, at least until the end of this year, large events where contact tracing and compliance with hygiene rules is not possible.

In order to ease the burden on families in the corona pandemic, the child health benefit is to be paid for five additional days per parent in 2020, and for single parents for ten additional days.

+++

On Wednesday the Foreign Office extended its travel warning to the Principality of Andorra between Spain and France and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar in the south of Spain. In addition, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) classified some regions in the Caribbean as risk areas. These include the island of St. Martin with its French and Dutch parts and the Dutch and French overseas territories of Aruba and Guadeloupe and French Guyana. In view of the current incidence of infection in these regions, the Federal Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist travel there.

Large parts of Spain and the French Mediterranean coast had already been classified as risk areas, including Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. Travel warnings have also been issued for the French region of Île-de-France, with its capital Paris, and parts of Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Belgium.

A corona test has been mandatory for those returning from risk areas since 8 August. Until a negative test result is obtained, they must isolate the returnees themselves at home. Test centres have been set up at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations for the tests. The tests are free of charge for travellers. 

+++ Thursday, August 27th +++

The Federal Cabinet has extended the travel warning on the Corona pandemic for around 160 countries until 14 September. We advise against unnecessary tourist travel to these countries. Exceptions are most EU countries, Schengen-associated countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Great Britain. Anyone entering Germany from a risk area must go into quarantine and inform their local health authority. Since 8 August, anyone entering Germany from a risk area must also present a negative corona test not older than 48 hours or be tested for corona infection within 72 hours of arrival. If the test result is negative, the quarantine can be lifted.

Test centres have been set up at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations for the tests. The tests are free of charge for travellers. 

+++ Tuesday, August 25th +++

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) classifies the French regions of Île-de-France, including the capital Paris, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur as risk areas. Due to the current incidence of infection, the Federal Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist trips to these regions of France. Last week the RKI classified the counties of Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia in Croatia and the Vâlcea region in Romania as risk areas. Travel warnings have also been issued for parts of Bulgaria, Spain and Belgium.
A corona test has been mandatory for people returning from risk areas since 8 August. Until a negative test result is obtained, they must isolate the returnees themselves at home. Test centres have been set up at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations for the tests. The tests are free of charge for travellers.  

+++ Monday, August 24th +++

The Federal Ministry of Education has extended the bridging aid for students who are in particular need as a result of the Corona pandemic. Affected students can also apply for the bridging aid in the form of a non-repayable grant from their student or student union in September. Originally, the bridging allowance was intended as a grant for the months of June, July and August. The Federal Government has put together a comprehensive package to cushion the hardships for students. In addition to adjustments to BAföG, this package also includes a bridging aid, which includes the KfW student loan of up to 650 euros per month as well as grants from the student services. The KfW Student Loan has been interest-free for everyone from May to the end of March 2021. Since June, foreign students have also been able to apply for it.

+++

Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters supports music clubs and live music venues with 27 million euros. The funds come from the rescue and future package Neustart Kultur. The programme "Preserving and strengthening the music infrastructure in Germany" is aimed at operators of small and medium-sized live music venues and clubs in which live performances take place. "Since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, music life in Germany has largely come to a standstill, clubs and concerts are sorely missed," says Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters. Many operators have since fallen into an existential emergency. "The club and concert scene is, however, an important part of our unique musical landscape worldwide, which is why we now want to support it actively", said Grütters.

+++

The Federal Government supports book publishers and bookstores with 20 million euro from the "Neustart Kultur" programme for the future. This was announced by Minister of State for Culture Grütters during a visit to the Literaturhaus Berlin and the associated bookshop Kohlhaas & Company. Under the Neustart Kultur programme, publishing companies can apply for printing and production cost subsidies of up to 10,000 euros for a new publication. Bookshops can apply for grants of up to 7,500 euros per bookshop to digitalise their distribution channels. For the book industry as a whole, the aid package provides a total of 25 million euros, four million euros of which alone are earmarked for holding the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2020.

+++ Saturday August 22nd +++

The Covid 19 pandemic presents Europe with "one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult economic challenges" since the Second World War, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. This makes it all the more important that the European countries act together and coordinate closely. There must not be any new border closures. "Politically, we really want to avoid that at all costs. But that also requires us to act in a coordinated manner", the Chancellor said. With regard to the handling of the pandemic, Merkel spoke in favour of similar criteria in Europe, for example the classification of risk areas. Even in Germany, many people do not understand that corona measures vary from state to state. The same applies to Europe. "I can feel the will in Europe to act together, even if we have a lot to learn", said Merkel.

+++ Friday, August 21st +++

The German Foreign Office has issued a travel warning for parts of Croatia and Romania. Returnees from these areas are subject to a corona test. The Robert Koch Institute classifies the Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia counties in Croatia and the Vâlcea region in Romania as risk areas. In view of the current incidence of infection, the Federal Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist travel to these parts of Croatia and Romania. Luxembourg and in Romania the areas ("counties") Ialomita, Mehedinți and Timis, on the other hand, are currently no longer considered risk areas. There are also still travel warnings for parts of Bulgaria, Spain and Belgium. You can find the current travel warnings issued by the Federal Foreign Office here. An overview of international risk areas is also available from the Robert Koch Institute. Further information on travel can be found here.  Since 8 August, anyone entering from a risk area is obliged to be tested for corona infection. Test centres have been set up for this purpose at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations. The tests are free of charge for travellers. In addition, all travellers returning from abroad have the opportunity to be tested for the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 voluntarily and free of charge within 72 hours of their return - regardless of the country they come from or whether they show symptoms of the disease.

+++

The German government is supporting Mexico, which has been severely affected by the pandemic, by sending a medical mission. "We must do everything we can to stem further spread," said Development Minister Müller. As part of the Federal Development Ministry's Corona Emergency Programme, Germany is providing 100,000 test kits and laboratory materials to help Mexico cope with the corona pandemic. In addition, medical personnel from the "Rapid Deployment Expert Group on Health" (SEEG) will help to adequately equip laboratories and train health personnel. According to the WHO, Germany is one of the most important international supporters in the fight against the spread of the pandemic. The Expert Group on Health was deployed in Namibia, Benin, Ecuador and Peru, among others. SEEG has provided the African Union with 1.4 million corona tests. With more than six million people infected, Latin America is one of the regions most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic worldwide. Mexico is in seventh place in terms of numbers with a total of 530,000 infections.

+++ Thursday, August 20th +++

In the reporting week 33, 39 percent (2,952 people) of those who were proven to be infected with Covid-19 probably contracted the disease abroad. This is reported by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in its situation report. In the last four weeks of reporting (30 to 33) a total of 15,942 people have probably become infected abroad. The countries of the Western Balkans, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, Romania and Poland were most frequently named as probable countries of infection. Among those infected from Kosovo and Turkey, children and middle-aged people predominate. In contrast, among the cases with probable infection countries Spain and Croatia are more likely to be persons between 20 and 24 years of age. By comparison, the majority of cases that are likely to be due to an infection abroad were eleven in reporting week (46 percent, 2,976 cases). As a result of travel restrictions, this figure has fallen to 0.4 per cent in reporting week 20 (19 cases). With the start of the first border openings in Europe in the 25th reporting week, the proportion of cases indicating a probable country of infection abroad is rising again.

+++

In order to make concerts and alternative, pandemic-proof cultural experiences in Corona times possible, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters is making up to 80 million euros available to organisers of music festivals and live music programmes of all genres. The funds are part of the 150 million euro rescue and future package Neustart Kultur, which the Federal Government has launched for the music industry in the face of the Corona pandemic. Due to the corona-related cancellation of concerts and festivals, many small and medium-sized companies in the live music industry are threatened in their economic existence. The funding programme is intended to encourage and support them in planning and giving concerts again. "Our goal is to safeguard the immense diversity of our musical life in the metropolises, the cities and in the countryside so that we can all enjoy musical performances again as soon as possible," Grütters explains.

Music festivals can receive up to 250,000 euros from the support programme, and organisers of live music programmes up to 800,000 euros. The application documents and further information will be available here from 7 September 2020.

+++

Larger start-ups have so far received state corona aid amounting to 614 million euros. The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) announced that 28 applications have been approved for this. The venture capital funds, through which larger start-ups are financed, intend to support around 330 start-ups. To date, the funds have submitted 75 applications with a total volume of 1.16 billion euros. The so-called Corona Matching Facility is part of the two-billion-euro package of measures for start-ups that the Federal Government has drawn up together with KfW and KfW Capital. The facility provides venture capital funds with additional public funds. This enables them to continue to provide sufficient funds to accompany financing rounds for start-ups. Start-ups and small SMEs that do not have access to the Corona Matching Facility are provided with venture capital in close cooperation with the regional companies.

+++ Wednesday, August 19th +++

In view of the increasing number of new corona infections, Chancellor Merkel has called for compliance with corona protection measures. If the rules were observed, " we can also make a lot of public life possible" . In Düsseldorf, Merkel stressed that "everyone can make a contribution". In the last three weeks, the number of corona cases has doubled throughout Germany, said Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference with North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet. She appealed to the population to comply with the rules: "Anyone returning from a risk area must be placed in quarantine - unless there is a negative test".  This test would be mandatory, this is not an "optional rule". The same applies to wearing masks and keeping your distance when shopping and using public transport.

"We are in the middle of a pandemic", reminded the Chancellor, "the virus is there, even if it is not visible".  The priorities are to maintain economic life and secure jobs as well as to keep schools and day-care centres running as far as possible. A further easing of restrictions could therefore only be possible if the number of cases decreased again. "Everyone can make a contribution to this", the Chancellor said. The Chancellor thanked all employees of the health authorities: "They are currently doing something really important for us all.  Merkel announced a federal-state pact for the public health service to strengthen the health offices. A corresponding conference is planned for September.

+++ Tuesday, August 18th +++

In view of the increasing number of new corona infections, Federal Minister of Health Spahn warns against private festivities as a source of danger. There are local outbreaks all over the country, mostly related to celebrations, Spahn explained on Sunday evening on ZDF television. In addition to travel returnees who carry the virus into the country, social events, where people usually gather under the influence of alcohol, must be considered a source of corona infection, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on ZDF television. "What we see is, at celebrations, events there, it is transmitted very, very quickly", said the Minister. "That's why I think we have to look again with the federal states, what are the limits, what are the regulations for the size of events, for example. Spahn recommended that "for a while at least, we should only celebrate within the immediate family circle". Whether the number of new infections can be kept under control is up to the individual.

+++ Monday, August 17th +++

A fresh coat of paint, better information systems for travellers, more accessibility: Germany's railway stations are to become more attractive. The German government is providing Deutsche Bahn with 40 million euros for this purpose. The funds for the emergency programme come from the federal government's economic stimulus package to strengthen the German economy and combat the consequences of corona. The investments will also support small and medium-sized craft businesses. "The winners are our small and medium-sized businesses and rail customers," said Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. Nationwide, 167 railway stations will be refurbished this year. Deutsche Bahn will commission regional painters, scaffolders, electricians and other tradesmen to carry out the work, who will thus benefit from the immediate programme.

The immediate action programme will support the following work, among others:

- Replacement of floor coverings, paintwork and facades

- Renewal of stairs, accesses, fences and roofs

- Addition of seating and waiting facilities

- Extension of travel information systems

- Further development of accessibility

- Energetic renovation, for example replacement of heating systems

+++

Renewed widespread closures of schools and daycare centres should be avoided as far as possible. There was agreement on this goal during the informal exchange on Thursday, when Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek and SPD leader Saskia Esken met with a number of state ministers of education. "It is one of the most difficult tasks in this pandemic to organize school lessons while keeping an eye on all the necessities of infection protection and hygiene regulations," emphasized government spokesman Steffen Seibert at the federal press conference on Friday. The focus of the discussion on Thursday was the expansion of digitization in schools and forms of digital learning. The urgency of the matter was once again demonstrated by the challenges posed by the Corona pandemic. He said that the prerequisites for this were to be created, for example by connecting all schools to fast Internet, providing pupils with affordable access to the Internet at home and equipping teachers with the necessary end devices such as laptops or tablets. Education ministers from seven German states took part in the informal exchange. A further exchange with all ministers of education is to follow.

+++

Due to the current incidence of infection, the Robert Koch Institute has declared the Spanish mainland and the Balearic Islands a risk area. The Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist travel to these areas.  According to the Federal Foreign Office, the regional centres of infection are located in the Autonomous Communities of Aragon, Catalonia, Navarre, La Rioja, Castile and Leon, the Basque Country, the capital region of Madrid and the Balearic Islands. In Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca is particularly affected.

In the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro), however, infection rates remain at a lower level.

+++

Since August 8th, anyone entering the country from a risk area is obliged to be tested for corona infection. Test centres have been set up for this purpose at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations. The tests are free of charge for travellers. In addition, all travellers returning from abroad have the opportunity to be tested for the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 voluntarily and free of charge within 72 hours of their return - regardless of the country they come from or whether they show symptoms of the disease.

+++ Friday, August 14th +++

The new SARS-CoV-2 occupational health and safety rule includes technical recommendations for infection protection such as ventilation of rooms and partitions between employees as well as organizational measures - for example the organization of working and break times or work in the home office. For work areas where these measures cannot provide adequate protection against infection, personal measures can be used: for example, the wearing of mouth-and-nose covers. The rule also contains suggestions for dealing with employees who are particularly vulnerable.

Companies that implement the technical, organisational and personal protection measures proposed in the SARS-CoV-2 rule can assume that they are acting in a legally compliant manner. The rule offers nationwide security of action in occupational safety. It creates a uniform basis for the supervisory authorities of the federal states to assess the measures in the companies. The occupational safety rule can help to further improve and expand measures already implemented to protect employees. The SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety regulation will come into force in August.

+++ Thursday, August 13th +++

The German population rates social cohesion after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic better than before. This is indicated by the "Radar of Social Cohesion 2020" of the Bertelsmann Foundation. While in February 46 percent of those surveyed still considered cohesion in Germany to be at risk, this proportion fell to 40 percent in March and fell again in May and June to 36 percent. According to the study, the assessment of those surveyed also shows a positive trend in the area of care and solidarity: While in February 41 percent of those surveyed still felt that citizens did not care about their fellow man, in May and June only 21 percent said they did.

On the other hand, however, the study shows that there are social groups that experience less cohesion in society. These include, for example, people with a low level of education, low economic status, migration background or single parents. Thus, especially those people who already experienced a high level of cohesion before the crisis have less of an impression that the pandemic is a burden on living together. For the study, 3,010 people were questioned representatively in February and March, 1,000 of them again in May and June - after the end of contact restrictions.

+++

In view of the increasing number of new Covid-19 infections, government spokesman Seibert appeals, especially to the young population, to adhere to the protection rules against the Corona pandemic: " We must remain cautious and vigilant in order to do everything possible not to jeopardize what has been achieved lightly.  The development of new infections worries him, declared government spokesman Steffen Seibert at the intergovernmental press conference in Berlin. " Because we do not have the one big infection event, but we have many small and medium outbreaks all over the country."  Although the health care system is currently well prepared - a worsening of the situation must be avoided at all costs. Seibert appealed to the population to observe the rules of distance and hygiene and to wear mouth and nose protection wherever it is recommended or necessary. "Every individual bears responsibility for himself, his family and his fellow men", emphasised the government spokesman.

Recently, the number of Covid-19 infections in Germany rose by 1,226 to 218,519 on Wednesday. There are also more and more young people among the infected. Everyone can help to further stem the spread of the coronavirus: you must keep your distance, observe hygiene rules and wear everyday masks.

+++

Due to "again high infection rates and local barriers", the Foreign Office has issued a travel warning for the Spanish capital Madrid and the Spanish Basque Country. A warning against unnecessary tourist travel also continues to apply in Spain for the autonomous communities of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre. You can find the latest travel warnings from the Federal Foreign Office here. An overview of international risk areas is also available from the Robert Koch Institute. Further information on travel can be found here.

Since 8 August, anyone entering from a risk area is obliged to be tested for corona infection. Test centres have been set up for this purpose at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations. The tests are free of charge for travellers. In addition, all travellers returning from abroad have the opportunity to be tested for the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 voluntarily and free of charge within 72 hours of their return - regardless of the country they come from or whether they show symptoms of the disease.

+++ Wednesday, August 12th +++

The majority of Germans (59 percent) consider government measures to combat the corona pandemic to be appropriate. This was the result of a survey conducted by ARD-Deutschlandtrends together with infratest dimap in August 2020. 28 percent of those questioned even said that the measures did not go far enough. According to the survey, only eleven percent consider the corona measures to be exaggerated. Further information can be found here. In a joint study by the University of Erfurt with the RKI and the BZgA, 57 percent of the majority were also satisfied with the measures and relaxation. In a study conducted by the University of Heidelberg, more than two thirds (68 percent) stated that they were satisfied with the work of the Federal Government with regard to the containment of the corona pandemic.

In order to contain the corona pandemic, the federal and state governments have agreed on various restrictions and conditions. These still apply, for example, to major events. The Federal Government continues to recommend following the AHA rule in everyday life: Keep your distance, observe the rules of hygiene and wear masks.

+++

Around 65 percent of German companies applied for state aid during the Corona pandemic. 44 percent of them stated that the company would not have survived the corona crisis without state funding or measures. This is the result of a study by the German Business Panel (GBP) of the University of Mannheim in cooperation with ZEW. Among the possible government measures taken up by the companies surveyed were corona emergency aid (33 percent), short-time work and short-time allowance (30 percent) and deferral of tax payments (19 percent). The companies that stated that they would not be able to survive the Corona pandemic without state funding made use of at least one of the measures mentioned.

The survey questioned 8,500 companies. The study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

+++ Tuesday, August 11th +++

The Federal Government supports the Länder in resuming regular operations in day-care centres. According to Federal Family Minister Giffey, everything must be done to prevent a second lockdown. Even in times of a pandemic, parents and children would have a right to a functioning day care center. "Parents need clarity and reliability just as much as educators do, so that everyday life in pandemic times can be successful and the overall system functions well. Giffey presented five guidelines that the federal government has developed for resuming regular operations:          

    - Adhere to hygiene rules, including regular airing and washing of hands.

   -  Educators should also observe distance rules when in contact with parents. Large events such as summer festivals should be   avoided. A mask obligation for children is not practicable.

    - Infections should be recognized quickly. Free corona tests should be possible for educators.

    - Possible infections should be better tracked. For example, fixed groups in the day-care centres are important.

    - Sick and feverish children should not be sent to the day care centres. However, this recommendation does not apply to a harmless cold.

The federal government's investment programme of an additional one billion euros is an important aid for the federal states in the implementation of regular operation, said Giffey. The money could also be used for investments in new hygiene and room concepts or in digitalisation. Giffey also announced the formation of a "Corona-Kita Council", which would include parents, sponsors, states and municipalities. In addition, a study financed by the federal government is accompanying the return to regular operation and researching the role of children in the infection process.

+++ Monday, August 10th +++

People who come from a third country and can prove a permanent partnership with at least one previous personal meeting in Germany or a previous joint residence abroad may re-enter Germany as of today, Monday. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer welcomed the fact that "we can now make this possible in a European framework". During the German Council Presidency, coordinated European action was very important to him.

For entry from a third country, the following must be presented

- an invitation from the person resident in Germany,

- a jointly signed declaration on the existence of the relationship, and

- Proof of previous meetings through passport stamps, travel documents or airline tickets.

Irrespective of this, travellers from risk areas are obliged to be tested for the coronavirus within 72 hours. Alternatively, a negative corona test not older than 48 hours can be presented. Further information on travel can be found here.

+++ Saturday, August 8th +++

Healthcare and public health services can deal with the current magnitude of new corona infections. Federal Minister of Health Spahn has pointed this out. He said it was important to stabilize the numbers and to pay attention to each other in everyday life. The Robert Koch Institute has recently again recorded more than 1,000 new corona virus infections per day. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said: "At the moment, we are in any case still at a level that the health care system and the public health service can cope with. Intensive care beds are more than adequately available according to current estimates. But one has to remain alert regarding the further dynamics, said Spahn on the TV channel ZDF. "If we stabilize now at a certain level, we can deal with it," said Spahn. It was up to everyone to pay attention to each other in everyday life.

+++

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs supports children and youth hospices in the Corona pandemic. 100,000 euros are available for digital services that enable affected families to be accompanied sensitively despite the restrictions. The corona pandemic places an enormous burden on families with terminally ill children and hospice work is significantly more difficult. "Especially in this incredibly difficult situation, the parents, the sick children and also the siblings need professional support and advice. They are dependent on help to cope with their everyday lives," says Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey. The Federal Ministry of Family Affairs is providing around 100,000 euros to enable the German Children's Hospice Association and the Federal Association of Children's Hospices to set up digital services such as virtual exchange and support facilities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, both organizations have recorded a significant increase in the number of calls and e-mails in which families ask for help. Around 50,000 children and young people in Germany suffer from a life-threatening or life-shortening illness.

+++ Friday, August 7th +++

For all those who come back from risk areas "let's play it safe". This was the statement made by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on the new regulation, which provides for mandatory coronate tests from Saturday. The compulsory test is an interference with the freedom of the individual, "but I think it is a reasonable interference", said the Minister. In a society it is important to look after and protect each other, he said, and test centres have been set up at airports, railway stations and other easily accessible locations for a few days now. The tests are free of charge for travellers. Spahn emphasized: "We as a society must not let the question of testing become a social issue." At the end of the holidays, the risk of bringing the virus from abroad to Germany increases. The following already applies: Anyone who was in a risk area in the two weeks before entering Germany must go into quarantine or prove a negative test result that is not older than two days.

+++ Thursday, August 6th +++

The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) has raised hopes that a vaccination against the corona virus will be available relatively quickly. "Confidence is high, because we have just seen in recent weeks that we have obtained results from the first clinical trials that show that some vaccines can actually induce a specific immune response in humans against coronavirus 2," said PEI President Klaus Cichutek. This was very good news. Worldwide, there are 140 to 150 vaccine projects in this field; in Germany, 26 clinical trials are already underway, Cichutek explained on ZDF television. In a new video, the PEI, which is responsible for the approval of vaccines in Germany, shows how a vaccine is developed - from the identification of antigens to testing in three phases and approval.

You can watch the video here.

+++ Wednesday, August 5th +++

The Foreign Office's warning against unnecessary tourist trips abroad has been lifted on 4 August for the four Turkish provinces of Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla. There is a low incidence of infection there, with about five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. Turkey has developed a special tourism and hygiene concept for these four regions in order to realize safe tourism under the conditions of the pandemic.

+++ Tuesday, August 4th +++

Criticism must always be possible in a democracy, said deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Monday. "But the pictures we had to see at the weekend are unacceptable, the behaviour of many demonstrators is in no way justified and exploits the high value of freedom of demonstration." There had been massive breaches of hygiene rules during the large demonstration in Berlin at the weekend and basic safety measures had been disregarded. In addition, according to all we know, there were also inhuman statements and the press was hindered in its work. This was to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht also emphasized that freedom of demonstration was "a particularly important legal asset". However, the conditions for containing the pandemic had to be observed in order not to endanger others. "I have no sympathy for demonstrators who are high-handedly ignoring this", she told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Twitter: "Yes, demonstrations must be possible even in corona times. But not like this. Distance, hygiene rules and everyday masks serve to protect us all; this is how we treat each other with respect and appreciate the renunciation of so many in this pandemic.

+++

The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) has raised hopes that a vaccination against the corona virus will be available relatively quickly. "Confidence is high, because we have just seen in recent weeks that we have obtained results from the first clinical trials that show that some vaccines can actually induce a specific immune response in humans against coronavirus 2," said PEI President Klaus Cichutek. This was very good news. There are 140 to 150 vaccine projects in this area worldwide. "We already have 26 clinical trials underway, and six of these clinical trials are already at a stage where statistically significant safety and efficacy data in humans are being collected again," Cichutek explained on ZDF television. The PEI is responsible for the approval of vaccines in Germany.

+++

"We want to prevent the dying of shops in the inner cities," says Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. He is also counting on digitization to strengthen retailers and make shopping and spending time in city centers more attractive for customers, as he told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "We have seen that since the Corona pandemic, many more shops are being done online. We have to help shop owners in the city centres to digitalise their customer relations in such a way that it also benefits fashion and shoe shops", the Federal Minister of Economics explained. A meeting with all parties involved is to be held in September to work out an effective concept.

 

+++ Monday, August 3rd +++

All travellers returning from abroad now have the opportunity to be tested for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 voluntarily and free of charge within 72 hours of their return - regardless of the country they are coming from or whether they show symptoms of the disease. Those entering the country from a risk area must either be tested or can alternatively be placed in domestic quarantine for 14 days. In future, every person entering the country from a risk area will be required to be tested for corona infection. In addition, returnees from risk areas will be obliged to report to their local health authority. The corona test result must not be older than 48 hours.

+++

In order to stop the spread of the corona virus, the Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism, Thomas Bareiß, appeals to holidaymakers returning from risk areas to have themselves tested. "This is for their own protection, but also for general security. Passengers from risk areas by train and car should also be tested. Travel must not become a danger". said Bareiß in an interview. Each individual bears a special responsibility for his fellow men.

+++

On Friday the Federal Foreign Office issued a travel warning for the three northern Spanish regions of Aragón, Catalonia and Navarre. "There are currently warnings against unnecessary tourist travel to the autonomous communities of Aragón, Catalonia and Navarre due to renewed high infection rates and local closures. according to the Foreign Office. There are currently new regional centres of infection in these areas with an incidence of more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per seven days, which is why the Robert Koch Institute has declared Aragón, Catalonia and Navarre to be risk areas.

+++

With the federal programme "Securing Training Places", the Federal Government supports small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. The first funding guideline was launched on August 1. Within this guideline, companies can benefit from premiums or grants that

- maintain or increase their level of training, although they are affected by Corona start,

- Do not send apprentices and trainers on short-time work,

- Take over trainees from insolvent companies.

"A good education is also the best protection against unemployment. It's important to me that young people can get an apprenticeship despite the Corona crisis. said Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil. 410 million euros are available for the first funding guideline, and the Federal Government is supporting the programme with a total of 500 million euros.

+++

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy is increasing the funds for the "Impfkraft" project at the University of Tübingen by five million euros. With the outbreak of the corona pandemic, the project has focused entirely on the development of a comprehensively effective vaccine against the novel corona viruses and has made considerable progress in this regard. "Combating the pandemic and its economic consequences is a top priority for me. Innovative German start-ups in particular can make an important contribution to the global fight against COVID-19," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. The world will need more than one vaccine candidate to defeat the virus.

 

+++ Friday, July 31st +++

The Expert Group on Health of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has handed over a first large corona aid delivery to the African Union. A total of around 1.4 million corona tests have been made available to the African Union to combat the corona pandemic. These measures are part of BMZ's corona emergency programme. Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller: "Corona is far from being defeated. Worldwide, 17 million people have become infected with the virus. The numbers are rising rapidly, particularly in developing and emerging countries. Our neighbouring continent of Africa reports around 20,000 new infections every day - twice as many as a month ago. With 450,000 confirmed infections, South Africa already ranks fifth among the countries with the most corona cases worldwide. We must do everything we can to stop the spread of the disease.

+++

Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters is supporting the programme "Artists*innenförderung der Initiative Musik" within the framework of the future programme NEUSTART KULTUR with an additional ten million euros. The programme is aimed at solo artists and bands who, together with their commercial partners, produce and release albums and concert tours. "With the approximately one billion euro rescue and future programme NEUSTART KULTUR, we want to support the cultural and creative industries and make artistic work and cultural life possible again," Grütters emphasises. The increase in the established support of the Initiative Musik with an additional ten million euros is another important building block for the preservation and strengthening of the unique music scene in Germany. "In this way we are directly supporting the artistic work of the musicians who so urgently need our help in the Corona pandemic," Grütters continued. You can read more about the Initiative Musik here.  The dance scene in Germany also receives support. A multi-part aid programme for the independent professional dance scene, for which up to 20 million euros have been made available, will strengthen artists, as well as production facilities, festivals and other areas. "The dance scene has been particularly hard hit by the Corona crisis. This is all the more true as dancers often have only a limited period of time in which to achieve artistic excellence," says Grütters.

+++

The German government will support three pharmaceutical companies with a total of 750 million euros from the Special Programme for Vaccine Development. This was announced by Federal Research Minister Karliczek after an independent panel of experts had made its recommendations. The 750 million euros from the special programme will go to the vaccine developers BioNTech from Mainz, CureVac from Tübingen and IDT Biologika from Dessau. In return, the German government expects that an appropriate proportion of the production of an approved vaccine will be made available for supply in Germany, said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek in a press statement. In a next step, intensive talks with the companies on the exact structure of the financial support are now pending, said the Minister. The funding of the three companies in Germany will cover the establishment of study and production capacities in the country. All three companies are promising, but each is pursuing a different approach", said the Minister. Setbacks must also be expected. "But we must not expect miracles," warned Karliczek against too much euphoria. In all probability, vaccines will not be available before mid 2021.

 

+++ Thursday, July 30th +++

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier sees the recent increase in new corona infections in Germany as an "important warning sign". As the minister emphasized in an interview, this development is endangering the economic recovery in the country. He said that the number of cases "worries him".  The Minister was convinced that it is possible to stem the rise without another nationwide shutdown. "And that means that we must now work together during the summer break to ensure that the worrying development of individual case numbers does not become a worrying trend," he warned. To stop the spread of the corona virus, the Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism, Thomas Bareiß, is appealing to holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas to have themselves tested. "This is for their own protection, but also for general security. Passengers from risk areas by train and car should also be tested. Travelling must not become a danger", said Bareiß in an interview. Each individual bears a special responsibility for his or her fellow human beings.

+++

In order to remedy the shortcomings, the Federal Government has passed the draft of an Occupational Safety and Health Control Act. The aim of the law is to secure workers' rights, especially in the meat industry. The efficiency of state supervision is to be strengthened. In the meat industry, work contracts are to be banned from 1 January 2021 and temporary work from 1 April 2021: In future, slaughtering, cutting and meat processing may only be carried out by the owner's own permanent staff. This regulation will not apply to the butchery trade. In addition, the law lays down minimum standards for the accommodation of workers recruited or sent from abroad. The density of inspections of establishments by the health and safety authorities is also to be gradually increased.

 

+++ Wednesday, July 29th +++

Every person entering Germany from a risk area will be required to be tested for corona infection. Those who are negative can then return to their everyday life. This is provided for by a regulation of the Federal Ministry of Health, which was announced by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn in a switching conference with the Health Ministers of the Federal States.

"We must prevent travel returnees from infecting others unnoticed and thus triggering new chains of infection. That is why I will order a compulsory test for travellers from risk areas. This serves to protect all citizens," said Spahn. The basis of the regulation is § 5 paragraph 2 No. 1 e of the Infection Protection Act. The ordinance adapting the National Test Strategy is expected to come into force next week. The tests are to be free of charge for travelers. You can read more about this here.

The current legal situation is: Anyone entering Germany from a risk area must go into domestic quarantine for 14 days. You can find out which areas and countries are designated as risk areas and what the basis for these decisions is on the pages of the Robert Koch Institute here.

 

+++ Tuesday, July 28th +++

"We must work to reduce the number of infections again. They should be at their lowest possible level by the end of the summer." The head of the Chancellor's office, Helge Braun, has expressed concern about the recent rise in Covid-19 infection rates in Germany. In addition to local outbreaks, for example in meat processing plants, among seasonal workers or in shared accommodation, another phenomenon has been noticeable in recent days: smaller outbreaks in the family environment, due to leisure activities and due to people returning from travel, Braun said on Monday.

Germany has so far come through the crisis well. "But if we want to get through the crisis well in autumn and winter, it is crucial that we act now," Braun explained. "Those who do not observe general rules on contact and distance in their leisure time or when travelling are not only a risk to themselves, but such behaviour is also directed against the common good," said Braun. All citizens are still urged to adhere to the basic rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus: keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres, observe rules of hygiene, wear a mouth-nose cover. A further building block in the fight against the pandemic is the use of the Corona Warning App.

Anyone currently returning from a risk area is obliged to go into quarantine. "Such a quarantine can only be lifted if you voluntarily undergo a test and it is negative," says Braun. It is "very important that everyone who is affected really follows these quarantine rules consistently". Braun said he was still in discussion with Health Minister Jens Spahn and the federal states about possible mandatory tests for people returning from risk areas. It is still too early to make a decision on this.

 

+++ Monday, July 27th +++

The federal and state ministers of health decided to introduce corona tests for people returning from travel. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn announced that the National Test Strategy would be updated accordingly. "All travel returnees should be able to be tested within three days", Spahn explained. For travellers from risk areas, the tests will be offered directly at the airport. The offer is to be free and voluntary, meaning that tests will only be carried out at the traveller's own request. In addition, it was decided that an obligation to test for entries from risk areas should be legally examined, or alternatively, anyone returning to Germany from a holiday in a foreign risk area and not presenting a negative test should be placed in a 14-day quarantine. Spahn added: "A test is not a free ticket, but always only a snapshot. Sensible behaviour and vigilance remain indispensable".

+++

With the now released version 1.1.1, the Corona Warning App ensures that a problem with the automatic background update on certain Android devices is fixed. After an update, users must open the app once and activate "Prioritized background activity" in the settings. The background: Certain Android devices prevent apps from running permanently in the background. The manufacturers want to minimize the battery consumption in this way. This also applies to the Corona Warning app. For the affected devices, the stored codes were therefore not automatically synchronized with the server - but only if the app was opened or the settings were adjusted accordingly. Important: Despite this limitation, the app always exchanged anonymous codes with other smartphones in the vicinity. The problem had been known for a long time. The developer FAQ for the Corona Warning App explains how to fix it. Also, operating system related limitations in the automatic warning of iOS devices are now fixed.

The Corona-Warn-App works well - as with all new developments there are technical challenges. The head of the German Chancellery, Helge Braun, the Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, and the CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG and the CEO of SAP SE pointed this out in a joint statement. "We want to convince even more people of the app. It is an important tool in the fight against the pandemic. Everyone who uses it makes a difference."

+++

The aim of the "Conclusions on compliance with the necessary hygiene and infection control measures" is to restore passenger confidence in public transport and to minimise the risk of infection for all concerned. For example, the Council advocates a set of basic hygiene and infection control measures to be applied to all international public passenger transport services. These include, among others:

- maintaining physical distance or, if that is not possible, the wearing of masks

- increased use of digital ticketing and digital ticket controls,

- Compliance with high standards for fresh air circulation and cleanliness in means of transport.

 

+++ Friday, July 24th +++

For the research of coronavirus vaccines, the European Commission is investing 100 million euros in a project of the international research alliance CEPI, reports the German government on its website. The financial resources are part of the EU research and innovation programme "Horizon 2020". The project aims in particular at effective prevention measures against Covid-19 and treatments as well as rapid vaccine production. The European Commission as well as the relevant governments and international partners have pledged a total of €15.9 billion for universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines.

 

+++ Thursday, July 23rd +++

From now on the Corona-Warn-App is also available in Turkish. It can be downloaded free of charge for the operating systems iOs and Android in the App Stores and at Google Play. The app is now available in three languages - German, English and Turkish. The App hotline (+49 800 7540 001) is now also available in Turkish with the new language version. To use the already downloaded German version of the Corona-Warn App in Turkish, the new update must be installed. It is also necessary to set the system language of the phone to Turkish.

The Corona-Warn-App has already been downloaded more than 16 million times. The application helps us to determine whether we have come into contact with an infected person and whether there is a risk of infection. In this way, chains of infection can be broken more quickly. The app is an offer from the German government. Download and use of the Corona Warning App is completely voluntary.

Further information on the Corona-Warn-App can be found here.

 

+++ Tuesday, July 21th +++

EU heads of state and government on Tuesday morning approved a 750 billion euro reconstruction fund. This includes European Union grants of 390 billion euros and guarantees. In particular, it is intended to support the states severely affected by the Corona pandemic. In addition, an EU budget framework for 2021 to 2027 with a volume of 1.074 billion euros was agreed. "This was not easy", said Chancellor Angela Merkel after the negotiations, but what counted was "that we pulled ourselves together in the end". The 27 heads of state and government had been discussing a financial framework to combat the economic consequences of the Corona pandemic in Brussels since Friday.

+++

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing a total of 45 million euros to support research into effective strategies and therapies for the treatment of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease Covid-19. 90 outstanding projects will benefit from the investment, said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. The aim is to launch research projects on the virus in the short term. These projects will focus in particular on strategies for the prevention and control of the virus, such as an effective vaccine and medication. Karliczek emphasised that never before have so many funds been mobilised for science as during the corona pandemic. In the process, science has gained the confidence of the population. The call for funds, which started at the beginning of March, initially provided for federal funding of 15 million euros. Special conditions applied: In a particularly rapid procedure, well over 500 project ideas were evaluated by independent experts. Karliczek emphasized that research was always conducted with a European perspective in mind. "Only together can we overcome the pandemic."

 

+++ Monday, July 20th +++

Nationwide, a distance of at least 1.5 metres must still be maintained, hygiene rules must be observed and everyday masks must be worn in shops, buses and trains, for example. The measures against the corona pandemic continue to meet with a high level of approval among citizens. For example, 87 percent of people in Germany think it is right that masks should continue to be compulsory when shopping. Furthermore, according to the Politbarometer of the Wahlen Research Group, 73 percent of those questioned generally believe that the prescribed mouth-and-nose masks help a great deal or very much to reduce the spread of corona viruses. The distance regulation is considered appropriate by 90 per cent of people, as the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment determined for its corona monitor. The acceptance of the measures taken by the Federal Government as a whole is also high. Just under two thirds consider the measures adopted by politicians in March to combat the corona pandemic to be exactly right, according to the BMG "Corona-Bund Study", in which the ifo Institute, Forsa and Charité Berlin participated.

 

+++ Friday, July 17th +++

The Federal Government and the Länder have agreed on concrete measures to combat regional outbreaks of Covid-19 in a targeted manner. If an outbreak occurs in a specific "cluster", such as a company, a leisure group or at a family celebration, tried and tested measures will be taken: quarantine, contact tracing and testing of the affected persons and their contacts. If there is a further increase in infections beyond the "cluster", the containment measures will be extended. Travellers from a particularly affected area may only be accommodated in a tourist accommodation or enter a country without quarantine measures if they can present a test that is no more than 48 hours old. Travellers returning from abroad and other travellers who have stayed in a risk area within the 14 days prior to entry must continue to be placed in domestic quarantine for 14 days directly after arrival.

+++

With a view to Majorca parties without a safe distance, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has pointed out the importance of protective measures even on holiday. Many holiday regions would have worked hard for months to ensure that tourists could now enter again. "The regulations serve to protect: the local people, the friends and families in Germany to whom we are returning and ultimately the holidaymakers themselves," said Maas in an interview with the Funke media group. Commenting on the pictures of Mallorca, where hundreds of people had celebrated at the weekend without wearing protective masks and keeping a safe distance, Maas explained: "Such behaviour is not only dangerous, but also inconsiderate towards all those who also want to spend their holidays in safety.

+++

1.8 million self-employed people, smaller craft businesses and freelancers have so far applied for subsidies in the Corona pandemic - to settle costs such as rent or leasing instalments and not be forced to give up business. More than 14 billion euros have been paid out. This was said by Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier in a round of questions on Twitter. He also referred to loans and aid for small and medium-sized businesses and larger companies. Altmaier said that the Corona pandemic had been a hard landing for the economy. Compared to many others in Europe and outside Europe, Germany has so far come through the crisis well. "We see that optimism is slowly returning. That is very good. We see that growth is also slowly returning," said the Federal Minister of Economics.

 

+++ Thursday, July 16th +++

Even though the number of new cases in Germany has stabilized at a comparatively low level over the past few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread rapidly worldwide. For example, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA) recorded a total of around 13.3 million infections on Wednesday and more than 578,000 deaths so far. "In the world we have seen such strong increases as never before," said the President of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, Prof. Dr. Lothar Wieler. The pandemic is on the move worldwide and almost all countries have reported cases. As he explained at a press conference on Monday, the number of infections had increased by one million in the short period of only five days before. "Above all, we are seeing an increase in new cases from countries that have eased or relaxed measures such as contact restrictions despite the rising number of cases," said Wieler. He emphasised that the virus is a binary organism that wants nothing more than to multiply. "And if we give it the chance, it does." Wieler appealed to continue to follow the AHA rules - distance, hygiene, everyday masks.

+++

The US government now does not want to expel foreign students who can only attend online courses because of the corona pandemic. The government of President Donald Trump withdrew plans to withdraw student visas as of the winter semester, which it had announced last week. Several universities and states had gone to court against the controversial plan. About 9200 German students are in the USA. Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek welcomed the US government's decision and that students now had security about their status again: "Science and research live from exchange, especially international exchange. This must also apply in times of a pandemic." Especially in these times, she said, "it shows that science worldwide is only able to get this pandemic under control if we work together."

+++

Culture is "fundamental for our democracy" - this is emphasized by Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture and the Media. "We need museums, theatres and concert halls not only as places of culture, but also as social places where we can meet and exchange ideas with other people," she said in an interview with the German Press Agency. Grütters also referred to the consequences of the Corona pandemic. "The longer the return to normality takes, the more dramatic the situation becomes for artists". Online, she said, "new digital offerings are emerging at breathtaking speed in the cultural sector in particular. Here the cultural sector could emerge from the crisis more strongly than it has entered it. With the "Neustart Kultur" programme, the Federal Government has launched a rescue package worth one billion euros. As part of this, the programme for corona-related reconstruction measures is being launched, from which museums, theatres, music clubs and festivals, literature houses and socio-cultural centres in particular will benefit.

 

+++ Wednesday, July 15th +++ 

Working in the home office - before the Corona pandemic it was not very common, but when it started it became everyday life for many families. In 2018, only 5.3 percent of employees in Germany stated that they worked at home for at least half the days. In April 2020, 23 percent of employees were working predominantly in their home office. This is shown by figures from the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) in Wiesbaden. According to these figures, there are currently around 14.6 million families in Germany with 11.1 million underage children and adolescents living in their households. Especially parents with younger children under twelve years of age would have faced great challenges during this time due to short-time work, home office and contact restrictions, according to the BiB. However, the study also shows, among other things, that the gender differences in domestic and family work have become smaller. Fathers on short-time work, for example, would take on more family work - and see this in a very positive light. The director of the Federal Institute, Prof. Dr. Norbert F. Schneider, also sees the Corona phase as a learning process for the organisation of work in the future: "It can be assumed that the experiences during the lockdown will lead to a new balance of presence and absence at the workplace in the long term.

+++

"We are of course keeping a very close eye on the vaccine issue," said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek on Tuesday during a visit to the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE). Worldwide, the development of a vaccine against Covid-19 is being worked on under high pressure, because in order to be able to return to a form of normality in the long term, a vaccine is a very decisive component, said Karliczek.

She highlighted the research for a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus carried out by the German Centre for Infection Research. The project stands for good cooperation between universities and beyond. Other current projects focus on the medical consequences of covid-19 disease, for example for human cardiovascular systems. In the afternoon, the Federal Minister of Education and Research also visited the University of Lübeck to learn more about current corona research.  "Research is an essential key in the fight against the corona virus," she said.

The Federal Government has set up a special national programme with a volume of up to 750 million euros to strengthen research into vaccines against the corona virus and to make provisions for production.

 

+++ Tuesday, July 14th +++

"We have steered our country well through the crisis so far. The citizens have played a major role in this," said Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn. In view of the beginning holiday season, however, he warned against lulling oneself into a false sense of security. The Corona pandemic was not yet over, he said, especially with regard to the world. The number of infections worldwide is higher than ever before. "The danger of a second wave is real", said the Federal Minister of Health. Spahn appealed to citizens to continue to observe rules of distance and hygiene and to wear everyday masks wherever it is intended. He was concerned about the pictures from the weekend in Mallorca. "We must be very careful that the Ballermann does not become a second Ischgl" - as a synonym for celebrating there without adhering to rules and without paying attention to each other. "When in doubt, we should be more careful once too much than once too little. This also applies, especially on holiday," said Spahn.

+++

Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz called for the joint fight against the consequences of Corona to be "a turning point for the European Union". The EU must now "do everything it can to emerge from the crisis with full force", Scholz stressed before the first meeting of EU Economics and Finance Ministers under the German Council Presidency. The meeting took place as a video conference. In the current economic situation, but also with a view to challenges such as climate protection and digitisation, a strong and sovereign Europe was needed, said Scholz. "We want the best Europe we can be. To this end, we want to take the next step", said the Minister. The priority for Germany was to agree on a reconstruction package and implement it. The members of ECOFIN have set themselves the task of "taking the necessary legislative accompanying processes and decisions" as soon as the basic outlines of a reconstruction programme are available. Other topics of the conference were the convergence reports of the European Commission and the European Central Bank and the final report of the High-Level Forum on the European Capital Market Union.

 

+++ Monday, July 13th +++

The Corona aid programme "Neustart Kultur" of the Federal Government is launched. The first recipients of funds from the billion-euro package include six federal culture funds. They will receive a total of up to 50 million euros. For their part, the funds will focus on providing direct support for artists - for example through scholarships. This will financially strengthen the Arts Fund Foundation, the German Literature Fund, the Performing Arts Fund, the Socio-Culture Fund, the German Translator's Fund and the Music Fund. The Federal Government is also supporting the Frankfurt Book Fair with four million euros from the "New Start" programme. The Book Fair, which is to take place from 14 to 18 October, will use the funds to reduce the stand fees for small and medium-sized publishing companies by up to 50 per cent. The funds will also be used to further expand a digital platform. "The publishing and book industry is also suffering greatly from the Corona crisis", emphasised Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters. She therefore welcomed the fact that the world's biggest book fair is taking place despite the more difficult conditions. "We want to support this" according to Grütters.  The "Neustart Kultur" program, worth one billion euros, was approved by the German Bundestag last week. It consists of four sub-programmes: "Pandemic-related investments", "Strengthening the cultural industry", "Support for alternative, including digital, cultural offerings" and assistance in the event of "pandemic-related loss of income and additional needs of the houses and projects supported by the Federal Government".

+++

Federal Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz has called for the joint fight against corona effects to be "a turning point for the European Union".  The EU must now "do everything it can to emerge from the crisis with full force". Scholz emphasised before the first meeting of the EU Economics and Finance Ministers under the German Council Presidency. The meeting took place as a video conference. In the current economic situation, but also with a view to challenges such as climate protection and digitisation, a strong and sovereign Europe was needed, said Scholz. "We want the best Europe we can be. To this end, we want to take the next step". said the minister. The priority for Germany was to agree on a reconstruction package and its implementation. The members of ECOFIN have set themselves the task of "taking the necessary legislative accompanying processes and decisions" as soon as the basic outlines of a reconstruction programme are available. Other topics of the conference were the convergence reports of the European Commission and the European Central Bank and the final report of the High-Level Forum on the European Capital Market Union.

 

+++ Thursday, July 9th +++

"The top priority of the German Presidency is for Europe to emerge from the crisis united and stronger". said Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech to the European Parliament. However, she said that it was not only a matter of short-term stabilization - but also of a Europe that faces up to the challenges of the present with self-confidence and courage, that is fit for the future, and that asserts its place in the world in an innovative and sustainable manner. Together with French President Emmanuel Macron, she had proposed a European reconstruction fund of 500 billion euros. She is pleased that the European Commission is taking many aspects of the Franco-German initiative into account in its proposal for a multiannual financial framework and reconstruction programme. The aim is to reach agreement as quickly as possible. Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months on 1 July - under the motto "Together. Making Europe strong again' . "The management of the pandemic and its consequences will shape our Council Presidency. At the same time, we must always keep an eye on the other major challenges of our time which still exist. said the chancellor.

+++

The EU Commission has approved the central set of rules for granting aid from the economic stabilisation fund. The fund is intended to help support companies that were healthy and competitive before the crisis. The fund is intended to guarantee liquidity and provide companies with equity capital. For many companies, the consequences of the Corona pandemic are serious: many are experiencing liquidity shortages through no fault of their own, jobs are threatened. For this reason, the Federal Government decided to establish the Economic Stabilization Fund as early as March. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier is certain: "With the green light from Brussels, we can now get the Economic Stabilization Fund off the ground quickly. This will enable us to help larger companies, family businesses and medium-sized enterprises in particular even better through the effects of the corona pandemic."

+++

Small and medium-sized enterprises that had to cease or severely restrict their business operations in the wake of the Corona pandemic can now receive further liquidity support. The bridging aid is an essential part of the economic stimulus package that the German government has launched to help Germany overcome the crisis quickly. Tax consultants, auditors or certified accountants can apply for the grants for affected companies. An application platform has been made available for this purpose as of today. After successful registration, applications can be submitted online from 10 July and until 31 August 2020 at the latest.

 

+++ Wednesday, July 8th +++

The Federal Government has adopted a further package of measures to facilitate the financing of export transactions. The proven state export credit guarantees ("Hermes guarantees") are particularly important in the current situation. They insure foreign transactions against political and economic risks, for example, also in the event of payment difficulties of foreign customers. Among other things, exporters and export financing banks are to receive improved financing terms for new export transactions, for example reduced down payments and delayed repayments for certain transactions.  "We relieve companies that are suddenly faced with existential challenges through no fault of their own. At the same time, we are creating new incentives abroad to order goods and services from Germany," says Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier.

 

+++ Tuesday, July 7th +++

Everyday masks remain an indispensable means of keeping infection rates low in the corona pandemic, especially during the holiday season. This was emphasized by government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday. On the bus, in the subway or in retail stores "it should remain a duty to wear masks". said Seibert at the federal press conference. According to Seibert, mobility in Germany is increasing strongly again. "And this new mobility is to be welcomed. It makes our lives easier, it makes our lives more beautiful."  But it must go hand in hand with respect for the rules that have worked so well in the fight against this pandemic: Keeping distance, maintaining hygiene and wearing masks where necessary. Health Minister Jens Spahn also spoke out in favour of the continued use of everyday masks: " I understand impatience" , so Spahn. It is not always pleasant to wear a mask. In closed rooms, however, and where a minimum distance is not always guaranteed, "everyday masks can make a difference in protecting oneself and, above all, others. said Spahn in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.

+++

During a videoconference Council meeting, the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the European Union exchanged views on how citizens dealt with the restriction of their rights in the early months of the Corona pandemic. "Parliaments and courts were able to act even under difficult conditions", said Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht. And she emphasized: "No freedom may be restricted only one day longer than absolutely necessary".  The meeting was chaired by the German Federal Minister of Justice and attended by the 26 other EU Justice Ministers and the Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, and from the European Parliament the Chairmen of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), Adrián Vázquez Lázara, and of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), Juan Fernando López Aguilar. The talks also focused on the fight against hatred and incitement and disinformation in times of Corona. The Covid 19 pandemic in particular was accompanied by a massive wave of false information and attempts to influence and distort social debates.

 

+++ Friday, July 3rd +++

The Bundestag has adopted the economic stimulus and future development package launched by the Federal Government. It provides for a further 24 billion euros for measures against the economic consequences of the corona pandemic. The money is to be used to secure jobs and prosperity in the long term and to get the economy moving again quickly. The Bundestag's decision on the economic stimulus package shows the strength and speed of democracy, said Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. With this decision, the plenary session has created the legal basis for supporting families, communities and companies. With both addenda - the first addendum of March 2020 amounted to 122.5 billion euros - the federal budget for 2020 provides for total expenditure of 508.5 billion euros. Expenditure on investments will rise to 71.3 billion euros. To finance this, Germany will take out loans of 217.8 billion euros this year.

+++

In order to make artistic work possible during the Corona pandemic as well, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters has set up a unique aid programme: Up to 5.4 million euros in immediate aid for independent orchestras and ensembles are available within this framework. A decision has now been taken on the applications for funding. A total of 27 independent orchestras and ensembles will each receive up to 200,000 euros. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the Ensemble Musikfabrik and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, among others, will be supported. The aid programme will run until the end of 2020 and is funded by the "Excellent Orchestra Landscape Germany" funding programme, which is to be continued regularly from January 2021.

+++

For trips booked before 8 March 2020 that cannot be carried out due to the Corona pandemic, the tour operator can offer the travellers a voucher. In this way, travel companies are to be protected against insolvency. In addition to supporting the tour operator, the voucher brings a further advantage for the customer: In the event that the insolvency insurance of the provider is not sufficient, the customer also receives a state guarantee up to the full value of the trip. If the voucher is not redeemed by the end of 2021 at the latest, the value must be repaid to the customer in the amount of the original travel price. Travellers can also refuse the voucher and thus claim immediate reimbursement. However, there is a risk that in the event of the organiser's insolvency the claim will only amount to part of the value of the holiday.

 

+++ Thursday, June 2nd +++

Since 1 July, Germany has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. A central topic: the Covid 19 pandemic and its health, economic and social consequences. Under the motto "Together. In the coming six months, Germany will make a greater contribution to shaping Europe and work to ensure that Europe emerges from the crisis stronger than before. This involves regaining economic strength and competitiveness, but also social cohesion. "May I say on behalf of the entire Federal Government that we are determined to do everything we can to move forward together as Europeans," Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed in her government statement in the Bundestag. In addition to tackling the corona pandemic, Germany wants to tackle important issues such as climate protection, digitization and Europe's role in the world.

++++

In deciding to allow citizens from selected third countries to re-enter Germany, the Federal Cabinet is following a recommendation of the Council of the European Union. The Council had proposed the gradual lifting of restrictions for third countries with a low incidence of infection. The list of states is to be updated every two weeks on the basis of the latest epidemiological situation. Third countries are those states that do not belong to the European Union.

Germany initially allows entry from the following states: Australia, Georgia, Canada, Montenegro, New Zealand, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. For three further states (China, Japan and South Korea), the entry restrictions will be lifted on condition that these states in turn expand the entry possibilities for German citizens. In addition, entry should be possible for travellers from third countries if there is an "important reason for travel".  Such a reason for travel exists, for example, if the traveller has an existing right of residence in Germany, is active in the fields of health care, care for the elderly or goods transport, or if the entry takes place within the framework of family reunion.

Irrespective of the entry possibilities, a quarantine obligation based on the Infection Protection Act continues to apply in all federal states in Germany for entry and return travellers from the risk areas defined by the RKI. With the exception of transit passengers, this also applies to passengers with an important reason to travel. An exception from quarantine applies in the case of a current negative test.

 

+++ Wednesday, July 1st +++

According to the Federal Environment Agency, there is no increased risk of infection with the novel coronavirus when swimming in a lake or open-air pool. Due to the dilution in water or the constant water treatment in open-air and indoor swimming pools, an infection is extremely unlikely. The WHO also sees no evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted via water. In principle, however, persons suffering from an acute respiratory tract infection or diarrhoea should not go swimming in order not to endanger others. The following applies to visits to the lake or open-air swimming pool: Keep contact restrictions and a minimum distance of 1.5 metres and observe the general rules of hygiene. Many bathing establishments have adopted a policy of restricting admission and closing off indoor showers and changing rooms. Find out about the rules directly from your federal state, locally in the community or from the respective operator of the bath.

+++

Since the start of the support programmes on 23 March 2020, tens of thousands of companies have benefited from the federal government's credit assistance in the fight against the corona pandemic. "The aid arrives exactly where it is needed, namely primarily at small and medium-sized companies", says Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. By the end of June the state development bank KfW had received around 70,000 loan applications with a total volume of around 50 billion euros. 99 percent of the applications received have already been finally decided. The committed volume is 33.5 billion euros - only large-volume loan applications are still being examined.

Of the applications, 98.5 percent have a maximum volume of three million euros - a total of 19.5 billion euros. The majority of small and medium-sized enterprises have thus benefited from KfW Corona assistance. EUR 26 billion is accounted for by around 350 applicants with a loan volume of more than ten million euros. The strongest demand was from the end of April to the beginning of May. During this period more than 30,000 applications were received. At peak times KfW accepted more than 2,000 applications per day - in addition to its regular promotional business - and for the most part made commitments immediately.

 

+++ Monday, June 29th +++

Chancellor Merkel stressed the joint efforts of Germany and France in the economic reconstruction of Europe after the Corona pandemic. She said that Germany, France and the European Union were facing economic challenges of a kind never seen before. "We can only move forward together", said Chancellor Merkel at a joint press conference with President Macron. This is why both countries wanted to work together to ensure that "Europe comes through the crisis, which will last for a long time, in good health and in good shape". In addition to the reconstruction programme, the Chancellor highlighted other priorities for the EU Council presidency, which Germany will hold from 1 July and France from 2022. Germany and France had set themselves the goal of playing a role that made it clear that "Europe is our future", said Merkel. The main issues at stake will be climate protection, increasing sovereignty in digitisation and the EU's international relations - for example with Africa, China and the transatlantic relationship. In May, Germany and France launched a joint initiative for Europe's economic recovery. The goal: Europe should emerge from the crisis stronger, more united and in solidarity. 500 billion euros are to be made available for this purpose.

+++

The Bundestag and Bundesrat have approved the reduction in value-added tax and other fiscal aid initiated by the Federal Government. The VAT rates will be reduced from 19 to 16 percent and from seven to five percent. The reduced rates are to apply as early as 1 July and are limited until 31 December 2020. The aim is to ease the burden on citizens and at the same time stimulate domestic demand. The decisions are part of the economic stimulus package agreed by the governing coalition. In order to relieve the economy, tax aid for companies has also been agreed. These include improved depreciation options for business assets, an expansion of tax research subsidies and more options for offsetting losses.

+++

The Bundestag has approved the child bonus of 300 euros for each child, which was initiated by the Federal Government, and the Bundesrat has agreed to it. The bonus will be paid in two tranches of 150 euros each in September and October together with the child benefit. It will not be credited against social benefits. However, it will be credited against the child allowance - from which families with higher incomes benefit. The child bonus is thus specifically aimed at families with small and medium incomes. As single parents are particularly challenged by the higher childcare costs and the associated expenses, the relief contribution will also be increased significantly. The contribution reduces the basis for tax calculation. This means that the person concerned has to pay less tax on his or her income. It will be increased from the current EUR 1,908 to EUR 4,008 per year, more than doubled. This increase applies to the years 2020 and 2021.

 

+++ Sunday, June 28th +++

Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasises that the danger posed by the coronavirus remains serious. "It's easy for us to forget because Germany has come through the crisis reasonably well so far, but that doesn't mean that we are protected, that the danger has been averted," she says in her new video podcast. The current regional outbreaks show that this is not the case. Each and every one of us has our fate in our own hands - by adhering to rules such as minimum distance, mouth and nose protection in public places and washing our hands, the Chancellor said. She also calls for the use of the Corona warning app.

+++

Germany is providing an additional 383 million euros for the global initiative to tackle the corona pandemic. Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged the funds in a video message to the virtual donor conference "Global Goal - Unite for Our Future". "I am firmly convinced that Vaccines, tests and medicines must be available, affordable and accessible worldwide. We must pursue this goal together," said the Chancellor. The donor conference is being organized by the EU Commission and the NGO "Global Citizen". The Chancellor is co-host.

 

+++ Friday, June 26th +++

"Thanks to the aid, the company now has the opportunity to concentrate on overcoming the crisis and leading Lufthansa to new heights," said Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. Lufthansa's Annual General Meeting on Thursday voted by a clear majority to approve the German government's rescue package. This was "good news for the company itself, good news for Lufthansa employees and also good news for Germany as a business location," Scholz said. The aid package safeguards the interests of the taxpayers. It is a temporary commitment. The total amount of the aid package is nine billion euros. Three billion euros includes, among other things, syndicated financing from the state development bank KfW, in which private banks are participating with 600 million euros. Now the Group has a perspective "to meet and overcome the currently most difficult challenge in its history", said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. Lufthansa has a chance to emerge stronger from this, he said.

+++

"These major outbreaks have now shown The moment you give the virus a chance, it will strike again," warned Helge Braun, head of the Chancellor's Office on ZDF. Therefore it is important to "answer every local outbreak very, very precisely and very quickly" - and not to become careless. "We only have a chance of a good economic recovery, including social relaxation, if the infection figures are very, very low," emphasized Braun. The best thing anyone and everyone could do at present was to consistently follow all the basic rules. In recent weeks, some people had apparently had the impression that the pandemic was over. That would be "our greatest concern": "Until we really have an effective vaccine or cure, the virus will continue to lurk," Braun emphasized. The head of the Chancellery also welcomed the restrictions imposed in the affected districts. He said they were an expression of "a very responsible approach" and would help to calm the situation and gain time "to really get a picture".

 

+++ Thursday, June 25th +++

One of the focal points of the federal government's economic stimulus package is financial support for local authorities. This is because the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic will also affect their budgets in the short term and directly.

- For example, reduced trade tax revenues at federal and state level are to be compensated in equal parts by a lump sum. 6.1 billion euros from the federal budget are available for this purpose.

- In addition, the Federal Government will permanently cover a further 25 per cent and a total of up to 74 per cent of the costs for accommodation and heating in the basic provision for job seekers.

- In addition, the new federal states will also be relieved by the federal government increasing its share of expenses from the supplementary pension schemes of the former GDR from 40 to 50 percent.

These measures require an amendment to the Basic Law, which the Federal Cabinet has also initiated

+++

500 million euros are available for the federal programme "Securing training places". This year and next year, it is to support small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 249 employees in order to cushion the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the training place market.

- Companies that are particularly affected by the corona pandemic will receive a bonus if they maintain their level of training. It is planned to pay 2,000 euros for each training contract concluded for 2020/2021.

- 3,000 euros will be paid for each additional training contract concluded.

- Companies will receive a premium of 3,000 euros for each trainee they take on from companies that have become insolvent due to the pandemic.

 

+++ Wednesday, June 24 +++

Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in a video conference with the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, and the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, on Tuesday. The three countries together form the trio presidency of the European Union for the next 18 months. The trio's programme focuses on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic and social reconstruction of Europe. The aim is to strengthen the EU's resilience to pandemic crises in the long term. Germany will take over the Council Presidency on 1 July, followed by Portugal in January 2021 and Slovenia in July 2021.

 

+++ Thursday, June 23 +++

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has flown to Italy for a visit. The country had been hit particularly early and hard by Covid19 and had warned others in Europe with a clear voice. "The battle is far from won, but thanks also to the determined action of your government we have made decisive progress", said Maas. Together with his Italian counterpart Luigi di Maio, Maas visited doctors, researchers and nurses at the state "Spallanzani Institute". Germany and Italy have worked closely together in the Corona pandemic: Both in aid deliveries and in the treatment of intensive care patients who were flown to Germany. The talks in Italy also focused on the priorities of the forthcoming German EU Presidency. The top priority, said Maas, was "to create a powerful economic and social new start".

 

+++ Sunday, June 21 +++

The Corona-Warn-App could become a "companion and protector" and help to interrupt infection chains, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasizes in the current podcast. Since Tuesday, the free Corona-Warning-App is available for download in the App-Store as well as in the Google Play-Store. She is delighted that millions of people have already downloaded the app in this first week. "The more people participate, the greater the benefit," she said.

 

+++ Friday, June 19 +++

Germany is taking over the Council Presidency at a time when the European Union is facing "the greatest challenge in its history", Chancellor Merkel declared in her government statement to the Bundestag. The pandemic had revealed "how fragile the European project still is". The first reflexes, she said, were rather national and not entirely European. The Corona pandemic had shown that "our Europe is vulnerable". "Never before have cohesion and solidarity in Europe been as important as they are today," she said.

National measures can only be successful "if the other EU member states are also strong and national action is flanked by European action". How Europe copes with the crisis "will decide on the prosperity of European citizens and on Europe's role in the world". The envisaged reconstruction fund for Europe is an "urgent imperative of the hour", he said, and the pandemic must not lead to a drifting apart of the economic prospects of the EU states. Germany had specified the priorities for its Presidency of the Council in view of the pandemic, but at the same time had set its sights firmly on the major challenges. These include climate protection, the digitalization of the economy and society and the assumption of more global responsibility by Europe.

"Together. Making Europe strong again" is the motto of the German Council Presidency. Merkel announced that she would work towards this goal "with all her strength and passion".

+++

Clinical vaccine development, the expansion of manufacturing and filling capacities as well as the increase in the number of test persons in Germany - these projects are being supported by the German government with a new special program for vaccine development. The programme has a volume of up to 750 million euros. "In order to be able to return to normality in Germany and all over the world in the near future, a vaccine is a very important element," explained Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. It can be assumed that a vaccine will be available "at the earliest by the middle of next year", said Karliczek. This is "nevertheless very fast", as otherwise the development of vaccines usually takes ten or even 15 years. In principle, the funding programme is open to all companies that are active in the development and production of vaccines and are based in Germany, provided they pursue a promising approach.

 

+++ Wednesday, June 17th +++

The German government plans to spend a further 24.8 billion euros on measures to counter the economic consequences of the corona pandemic. The money is to be used to secure jobs and prosperity in the long term and to get the economy moving again quickly. To this end, the Federal Government has launched an economic stimulus package and a package for the future. "Now we are giving Germany a huge boost for the future," emphasized Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. With both supplements - the first supplement of March 2020 amounted to 122.5 billion euros - the federal budget 2020 provides for total expenditure of 509.3 billion euros. Capital expenditure will increase to 71.8 billion euros. To finance this, Germany will take out loans of 218.5 billion euros this year. 

+++

Chancellor Merkel met with the heads of government of the Federal States in Berlin. The discussions focused on the further course of action to contain the corona pandemic and the package of measures to revive the economy. The Federal Government and the Bundesländer agreed that the minimum distance of 1.5 metres, the wearing of a face mask in certain public areas, increased hygiene measures and the instrument of contact restrictions should continue to apply. The Chancellor stressed that as long as there is no medication, "we must live with the pandemic" and protect each other. She thanked all citizens who are already using the Corona-Warn-App.

 

+++ Tuesday, June 16th +++

Pets that have tested positive for Covid-19 must be reported to the authorities. This was announced by the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner. The Federal Council will decide on a corresponding ordinance on 3 July. Studies show that animals react very differently to the virus. For example, certain types of animals are susceptible: these include cats and ferrets. Dogs are less receptive. This is the result of investigations by the Friedrich-Loeffler-Insitute, the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, which is concerned with the effect of Covid-19 on farm and domestic animals.

So far, only a few animals have been tested in different countries - a total of 15 cases are known. Among the positive tests were domestic cats, tigers and lions in the USA. However, experience to date, including experience in Germany, does not provide any evidence that pets, including cats and ferrets, transmit the corona virus to humans. In order to obtain a comprehensive overview of the occurrence and spread of the virus through animals, all cases are to be reported in future. The aim is to support research and to contribute to the early detection of future risks to animal and human health and the application of appropriate control measures.

"But I would like to emphasize clearly: There is no obligation for pet owners to have their animals tested! This only makes sense if the animal shows clinical symptoms," said Klöckner. The notification may be made to veterinary authorities, public health services or veterinarians.

 

+++ Friday, June 12th +++

Travellers should comply with the hygiene and protective measures to contain the coronavirus during their summer holidays, Federal Foreign Minister Maas said after the video conference with twelve European foreign ministers. "Developments show that the situation remains fragile," said Maas. "We now want to reopen the borders in Europe for people, but at the same time we must continue to set limits to the virus." In the coming period, the EU states would intensively exchange all data concerning corona infection and "react in case of changes", said Maas. If less and less attention is paid to the measures, it is possible that the rate of infection will increase again. If this happens, it might be necessary to impose restrictions that have already been relaxed. When travelling abroad, the Foreign Office would now check daily how the situation was developing so that it could react quickly. If necessary, travel advice could be turned back into travel warnings.

+++

In its cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the German government decided that the worldwide travel warning will continue to apply to all countries except the member states of the European Union, the Schengen-associated states and the United Kingdom for the time being until 31 August 2020 inclusive. "In contrast to our European neighbours, we do not yet have a common, reliable data basis, criteria and coordination processes for the rest of the world that would make unrestricted travel possible again without incalculable risks," stated Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The travel warning for the Member States of the European Union as well as for the Schengen-associated states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and for the United Kingdom will be lifted on 15 June. The Federal Foreign Office will replace it with country-specific travel advice. Further information on the extended travel warning can be obtained from the Federal Foreign Office.

+++

The internal border controls with Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Denmark, which were temporarily reintroduced due to the corona pandemic, will end at the end of 15 June. Border controls on air traffic to Spain will end in both directions on 21 June 2020, meaning that travellers from the EU states as well as from the Schengen-associated states of Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and the United Kingdom will again be able to enter the country without "valid reason". With the abolition of internal border controls, the entry restrictions and the pandemic search and control measures will also end, which are now to be gradually reduced. Regulations on entry into the European Union from third countries are expected to be adopted next week. The Federal Government expects proposals from the European Commission on this.

+++

In order to further contain the corona virus, people can now be tested even if they do not show any symptoms. This is provided for by a regulation of the Federal Ministry of Health. This means that in future, comprehensive tests will be possible in nursing homes, schools or day-care centres if a Covid-19 case has been detected there. In nursing homes and nursing services, this will also be possible regardless of confirmed infections. In addition, all patients admitted to hospitals will be tested. The decision whether to test is made by the treating physician or the public health department. The tests are paid for by the statutory health insurance funds, which receive a subsidy from the federal government. "We want to nip the virus in the bud," said Federal Health Minister Spahn. "This is only possible with preventive series tests in hospitals and nursing homes and if we test as many contact persons of infected persons as possible.

+++

Everything you need to know about the corona crisis in Germany and the measures being taken against the spread of the virus:
www.deutschland.de/en/corona-virus-germany-overview

 

+++ Friday, June 5th +++

At a donor conference for the Global Gavi Vaccine Alliance, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would be supporting classical vaccination programmes against measles, polio and typhoid fever with 600 million euro over the next five years. A further EUR 100 million is to go towards combating the corona pandemic. The conference, which was attended by more than 50 countries and individuals, raised a total of EUR 7.8 billion. The money will be used to vaccinate 300 million children in poorer countries by 2025. The virtual vaccination summit was hosted by Great Britain, which is also Gavi's largest donor. The alliance is dedicated to advancing the protection of every individual through ready-to-use vaccines that are affordable and freely available around the world.

+++

Germany wants to step up its efforts to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to cope with the corona pandemic. This was stated by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday before a video conference with his counterparts from the region. He also spoke in favour of intensifying the partnership, strong world trade relations with Latin America and support from multilateral institutions. A partnership based on shared values and principles within the framework of a rule-based order was particularly important in times of the Corona crisis, said Maas. Germany has already doubled its humanitarian and development aid to Latin America and the Caribbean this year. For example, German expert groups are deployed in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico to prevent or respond to outbreaks of disease that have already occurred.

+++

+++ Thursday, June 4th +++

The coalition of CDU and SPD has agreed on a comprehensive economic stimulus and future package with a volume of 130 billion euros. The aim is to secure jobs and get the economy back on track.

The package of measures includes

- Reduction of VAT: From 1 July to 31 December 2020, the VAT rate is to be reduced from 19 percent to 16 percent and for the reduced rate from 7 percent to 5 percent.

- Child bonus for families: Parents will receive a one-time bonus of 300 euros per child. For single parents the allowances will be doubled.

- Strengthening of the municipalities: The federal government increases its share of the costs for the accommodation of needy persons, compensates half of the loss of trade tax revenue for the municipalities and strengthens the local public transport and the health sector.

- Reducing electricity costs: The EEG levy is to be reduced from 2021 onwards through subsidies from the federal budget.

- Package for the future: Around 50 billion euros will flow into future areas such as the hydrogen economy, quantum technologies and artificial intelligence.

+++

The German government is aiming to make travel to the Member States of the European Union, Schengen associated states and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland possible again from 15th June. The prerequisite is that the occurrence of infection there allows it. The Federal Government will work at European level and in bilateral contacts to ensure a uniform European approach. "But we must not lull ourselves into a false sense of security," said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The Corona pandemic is far from over, he said. "Together we must prevent a resumption of tourism from leading to a second wave, here or elsewhere." He added that it was up to each individual to take personal responsibility. The Federal Foreign Office is planning to lift the worldwide travel warning issued on 17 March as of 15 June for EU Member States, Schengen-associated states and Great Britain, and to return to country-specific travel advice for these states that takes account of the regional epidemiological situation.

+++

The distance rules of 1.5 metres cannot be observed continuously in individual means of transport with increasing passenger numbers. The Federal Government therefore recommends additional measures to protect passengers and employees:

- At airports, markings in the check-in area and at boarding are used to ensure that passengers keep their distance, and apron buses are avoided wherever possible.

- In long-distance traffic, coaches and long-distance trains will ensure that passengers do not sit too close together. Deutsche Bahn also uses an online load display: The number of reservations is then limited.

- Different school start and end times or more flexible working time models are intended to equalise the peak hours in public transport.

 

+++ Wednesday, June 3rd +++

Thanks to the successes in containing the corona pandemic, the federal states are able to adopt more and more easing measures. In Berlin, for example, since 30 May, events, church services and training in fitness studios have been permitted - subject to certain conditions. Even pure pubs, i.e. pubs, have been allowed to open again since 2 June, subject to conditions. In North Rhine-Westphalia, outdoor contact sports with up to ten people have been permitted again since 30 May. Competitions in popular and recreational outdoor sports are also possible. The prerequisite is a hygiene and infection protection concept. The federal states decide on the gradual opening of public life on their own responsibility. They also take into account the regional development of the Covid-19 infection figures.

The following applies nationwide: The contact restrictions will remain in force until 29 June, as will the hygiene and distance regulations. However, shops may reopen - regardless of the sales area. Major events are prohibited until 31 August.

+++

The special regulation that allowed doctors to write patients sick over the phone has expired. From June onwards, a visit to the doctor is again necessary for a sick note. The special regulation had been decided by the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) of doctors, clinics and health insurers in order to reduce the risk of infection and to relieve the burden on doctors' offices. According to Josef Hecken, impartial chairman of the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA), the expiration of the special regulation is a "return to regular patient care". "The decision to end the current makeshift regulation as of 1 June is in line with the current assessment of the risk situation, which has led to relaxation in many areas of public life. In many practices, resilient hygiene concepts are already practiced, which are transferable to other practices, said Hecken. Patients can take advantage of medical care without exposing themselves to increased risks of infection.

+++

In developing the Corona Warning App, the German government is focusing on transparency. The entire source code of the app is open source and can be viewed here. Work on the app is progressing rapidly. The Federal Government currently expects the app to be available in a few weeks. The use of the app is voluntary. The app does not collect location data, and pseudonymisation and decentralised storage ensure the greatest possible data protection for users. The recognition of infection chains is of great importance for the successful containment of the corona pandemic. This is exactly where the Corona Warning App comes in: It is designed to inform people reliably and quickly about encounters with other infected persons and thus about a possible transmission of the virus. This is intended to enable the prompt isolation of those affected and thus prevent a new wave of infection - so that the path of gradual opening can be continued.

 

+++ Tuesday, June 2nd +++

The German government is expanding its support for mask production in Germany. The program supports investments in facilities for the production of European standard certified FFP2/3 masks and medical face masks. "In this way, we are strengthening European independence from supply bottlenecks, contributing to the successful fight against pandemics and at the same time securing added value and jobs in Germany," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. Companies that invest in the construction of new, innovative plants and products that go beyond the state of the art will receive up to 50 percent funding for the purchase of plants and components as well as for their own development work. The prerequisite for this innovation support is that the projects must be completed by June 30, 2021 at the latest. Investments in plants already available on the market that will be commissioned by August 31, 2020 will be subsidized with up to 30 percent of the investment costs.

+++

In the video podcast before Pentecost, Chancellor Merkel thanks the people in Germany who have been guided by caution, reason and responsibility for others in the past months of the Corona pandemic. "We have achieved a lot in these four months," says Merkel. At the same time, the Chancellor is announcing an economic stimulus package to help the economy get back on track and grow. This is to be decided next week. The economic stimulus package is intended to give a boost to innovation and sustainable economic activity in order to become strong in future fields. Public and economic life has got going again in many areas. Merkel is hopeful that the path of openness can be continued without rekindling the infections: "If we remain courageous and vigilant, we could succeed. At the same time, she pointed out the importance of the rules of hygiene and distance: "Keeping a minimum distance, mouth and nose protection where prescribed, washing our hands - all these are prerequisites for us to be able to move more freely again.

 

+++ Friday, May 29th +++

The Nutrition Report 2020 of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has addressed the question of how the corona pandemic is affecting nutrition. For 39 percent of those surveyed, the importance of agriculture has increased as a result of the corona pandemic. This is one result of the additional survey "Nutrition in the Corona Crisis" for this year's Nutrition Report of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Federal Minister Klöckner stresses that the pandemic has also changed the everyday nutritional life of Germans: "Food from the region has gained in importance. A new awareness of food has emerged - and of the work of those who produce it". This new appreciation must be maintained.  Another result: 30 percent of those surveyed said that they cooked more during the Corona crisis than before. 28 percent eat their meals together more often than before.

+++

The federal government is helping parents who, due to the closure of kindergartens and schools, are looking after their children at home and are therefore no longer able to work: Thus, the already existing continued wage payment is to be extended from six to ten weeks per person with custody. Single parents are entitled to 20 weeks of continued payment. The bill was passed by the Bundestag.

The entitlement requires that children who have not yet reached the age of twelve, who are handicapped or dependent on help, be looked after by their parents themselves due to a lack of other reasonable care options. 67 percent of the loss of earnings (up to a maximum of 2016 euros per month) will be replaced.

 

+++ Thursday, May 28th +++

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of government of the eastern German states agree that they want to continue to exchange views closely on issues relating to the management of the corona pandemic. It was in the common interest "to contain this pandemic and to allow as much social life, economic life, cultural life and above all educational life as possible to take place", stressed the Chancellor. Although the Länder could make their own decisions in many areas - the responsibility for the Infection Protection Act lies with the Länder. But the strategy to date has also been successful because the Federal Government and the Länder have always agreed on a common protection framework. In view of the decreasing number of new infections, Merkel warned against being too careless: Germany is still at the beginning of the pandemic, she said, and there is neither a vaccine nor a drug for treatment. "But we have gained better control," she said. This was also thanks to the discipline of the citizens. Especially in times of relaxation, she said, it was important to increase vigilance in social life. In this way, every individual could continue to make a contribution to ensuring that the path of containment was continued. In addition to the pandemic, 30 years of German unity and the economic situation of the East German states were the topics of the video conference.

 

+++ Wednesday, May 27th +++

The Federal Government and the Federal States have agreed on a joint resolution on the further procedure regarding corona-related contact restrictions. The main part of the decision by the head of the Federal Chancellery and the heads of the Senate and state chancelleries is that the contact restrictions will continue until 29 June in any case. Within the framework of this update, the Federal States can retain the contact restrictions that have been in force up to now or allow up to 10 persons or members of two households to stay in public areas. Furthermore, it is recommended to keep the number of people with whom one has contact as low as possible and to keep the group of people as constant as possible.

+++

In order to stabilise dual training in Corona times, the representatives of the Federal Government, the Federal Employment Agency, the Federal States, the trade associations BDA, BFB, DIHK and ZDH and the trade unions adopted measures under the chairmanship of Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. The aim is to enable trainees to continue their training and take their exams despite the current difficult situation and to ensure that sufficient training places will be available in the coming years. In concrete terms, the partners of the Alliance for Training and Further Training agreed that companies that take on trainees from bankrupt companies can receive a temporary take-over bonus. In order to stabilize the training year 2020/21, companies should also be able to make greater use of the advantages of collaborative training and contract training. Click here for the Joint Declaration of the Alliance for Training and Further Education.

 

+++ Tuesday, May 26th +++

Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner and Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer have agreed to extend until June 15th the entry regulations for foreign seasonal workers which were decided on in April. In this way the Federal Government is supporting domestic farmers who are dependent on the help of foreign specialists for harvesting and planting work. In April, the ministers had decided to allow the entry of 40,000 harvest workers in April and May under strict infection control conditions. Among other things, anyone arriving from abroad must pass a health check at the airport and be separated from the other workers for the first 14 days. In addition, there are strict distance and hygiene regulations in the factories and a lower occupancy rate in the accommodation.

The travel regulations are to be reassessed on 15 June.

+++

The economy is getting quick help in the Corona pandemic: 45,910 loan applications with a commitment volume of 24 billion euros were approved through the house banks, according to KfW. KfW received a total of 48,120 applications (as of 20 May). This means that around 95 percent of the applicants received a positive decision.  With 35,116 applications, the Entrepreneur Loan for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises was by far the most frequently applied for. 33,586 loan applications have already been approved. The total volume of these loan commitments amounts to EUR 8.9 billion. Of the 2.02 million applications for emergency aid in the form of a one-off grant throughout Germany, 1.6 million have already been approved. As a result, 12.4 billion euros have been disbursed to freelancers, self-employed persons and companies.

+++

The German government has agreed on a comprehensive support package for Lufthansa. The company was operationally healthy and profitable before the corona pandemic and has good prospects for the future. The total amount of the stabilisation measures for Lufthansa is nine billion euros. This was agreed by the Federal Government on Monday in the Committee of the Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF). The package takes into account the needs of the company and at the same time those of taxpayers and employees of the Lufthansa Group, who are dependent on maintaining a strong company.

Among other things, these points are provided for:

- Three billion euros will be provided by a consortium financing of the state-owned development bank KfW, in which private banks will participate with 600 million euros.

- The WSF acquires a silent partnership of around 4.7 billion euros.

- In addition, the WSF acquires a 20 percent share in the company in the course of a capital increase. The volume is around 300 million euros. This is to be accompanied by voting rights limited in content.

The support offer of the German government has been submitted to Lufthansa and is now being discussed in its committees. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier said it was essential that Lufthansa could continue its work in Germany. This is something that we have to fight and work for.

+++

Federal Minister of Family Affairs Giffey urges that the right of every child to leisure and play be kept in mind even in the Corona pandemic. "Children need to play together inside and outside", said Giffey at the presentation of the Children's Report 2020. he past few weeks have been very difficult for many children due to closed daycare centres and schools, emphasised Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey. She added that it was now all the more important to weigh up health protection and the well-being of the child carefully against each other in the further easing of restrictions. The Children's Report 2020 with its focus on "Playing Outdoors" makes it clear how important outdoor play is for children and young people: For 70 percent of the children surveyed, playing outside the home is of great or very great importance. 92 percent plead for better accessibility to playgrounds and other places suitable for playing, for example through free buses and trains or safe cycle paths.

 

+++ Monday, May 25th +++

The Conference of Ministers of Culture and the Minister of State for Culture and the Media, Monika Grütters, have agreed on key points for a planned opening of further cultural institutions and activities. This agreement was forwarded to the heads of state government of the Länder and the Federal Chancellor. The paper is a template for consultations between the Chancellor and the Prime Ministers. The key points contain recommendations and criteria for opening concepts for art and cultural institutions against the background of local developments in infection rates. Among other things, it is planned to develop on-site concepts with basic protective measures to protect the public, employees and other stakeholders. Components of these concepts include ticketing systems, visitor flow management and mandatory seat reservations.

 

+++ Saturday, May 23rd +++

Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters has doubled the size of the NEUSTART emergency aid programme by a further 10 million euros to 20 million euros. Since 6 May, small and medium-sized museums, venues for concert and theatre performances or socio-cultural centres have been able to submit applications for funding. Investments between 10,000 and 50,000 euros can be supported - for example, the installation of protective devices or digital transmission formats. Minister of State Grütters:  „Our immediate action programme NEUSTART has hit the mark! The demand is overwhelming: we have already received almost 1000 applications. Due to the high demand, we therefore decided very quickly to increase the funds in my budget considerably after only three weeks".

 

+++ Friday, May 22nd +++

Together with Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, Kristalina Georgieva, Director of the IMF, José Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, and Roberto Azevêdo, Secretary-General of the WTO, the Chancellor called for "a return to a sustainable development path as soon as possible". What was needed was "joint, coordinated action - not unilateral action", Merkel said.

The video conference focused on four topics.

1) The discussion partners agreed: The pandemic will not be over until there is a vaccine or good medicine against Covid-19. Such means should be understood as "common global goods" - "they must be made available to all", said Merkel.

2) Instead of renationalising supply chains, the international trading system must now be strengthened. Otherwise "everyone would pay a very high price", the Chancellor said. She was concerned about protectionist tendencies - especially export restrictions in the food sector.

3) Globally, nine trillion dollars have already been spent on support measures. The economic recovery process must be accompanied by economic stimulus packages, "and not by higher taxes," Merkel stressed.

4) Development aid must not be cut. Rather, the financing requirements of the developing countries must be considered. The debt moratorium of the G20 and the Paris Club was "a right step" - but perhaps "this is not yet the last step", said the Chancellor.

+++

The ministers responsible for tourism in the EU exchanged views in a video conference on the prospects for holiday travel within Europe, taking into account the continuing risk of infection. Thomas Bareiß, Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism, participated in the discussions on behalf of Germany. "The video conference of EU tourism ministers has confirmed The first coordinated steps towards restoring freedom of movement and abolishing internal border controls within the EU have been taken, and we are striving for more," said Bareiß after the exchange at European level. It was clear, however, that this year's holiday would be different than usual. "We will have to live with restrictions," said Bareiß. You can read more about the discussions here.

 

+++ Thursday, May 21st +++

In order to improve occupational health and safety and hygiene in the meat industry, the Federal Government has adopted key points for a protection programme. This programme provides for ten measures: Among other things, more frequent checks by the health and safety authorities are planned, working hours are to be recorded electronically and protection against accident and health risks is to apply to all employees in the meat industry. From January 1, 2021, the slaughtering and processing of meat will only be permitted to employees of the company's own operations.

Employers are also to be obliged to inform the authorities of the place of residence and employment of foreign workers and to comply with minimum standards for the accommodation of mobile workers. In addition, the protection programme provides that foreign workers are informed about their rights and relevant regulations in their native language. "Better occupational safety in the meat industry is urgently needed. The last few days have shown this once again", said Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil. There have been numerous COVID-19 cases in several meat factories recently.

+++

The Federal Government wants to continue to support parents who are looking after their children at home due to the Corona pandemic and who are therefore no longer able to work. For this reason, it is extending the already existing wage continuation for day-care and school closures from six to ten weeks per person with custody. Single parents are entitled to 20 weeks of continued payment.

This entitlement is subject to the condition that children who have not yet reached the age of twelve, who are disabled or dependent on help, are looked after by their parents themselves for lack of other reasonable care options. 67 per cent of the loss of earnings (up to a maximum of 2016 euros per month) is reimbursed.

+++

For trips booked before 8 March 2020 that cannot be carried out due to the Corona pandemic, the tour operator can offer the travellers a voucher. In this way, travel companies are to be protected against insolvency. In addition to supporting the tour operator, the voucher brings a further advantage for the customer: In the event that the insolvent insurance of the provider is not sufficient, the customer also receives a state guarantee up to the full value of the trip.

If the voucher is not redeemed by the end of 2021 at the latest, the value is to be repaid to the customer in the amount of the original travel price. Travellers can also refuse the voucher and thus claim immediate reimbursement. However, there is a risk that in the event of the organiser's insolvency the claim will only amount to part of the value of the holiday. A corresponding draft bill is to be presented shortly.

 

+++ Wednesday, May 20 +++

The heads of government of the Visegrád Group and Chancellor Angela Merkel want to gradually dismantle border restrictions and controls as soon as the pandemic situation allows. This was agreed by Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki (Poland), Igor Matovič (Slovakia), Andrej Babiš (Czech Republic), Viktor Orbán (Hungary) and the Chancellor during a joint video telephone conversation.

In addition to the respective measures to contain the Corona pandemic, they also exchanged views on European policy issues and Europe's economic recovery after the pandemic. The Chancellor explained the German-French initiative. They also discussed the priorities of the German EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2020.

In a subsequent bilateral meeting, the Chancellor and Czech Prime Minister Babiš reaffirmed the goal of reducing restrictions on people and businesses in the border region, insofar as the incidence of infection allows.

+++

Achieving the best possible treatment and good pandemic management through rapid exchange of experience about Covid-19 sufferers - this is the goal of the National Network of University Medicine. This was stated by Federal Minister of Research Anja Karliczek at a joint press conference with Heyo Kroemer of the Charité Berlin, Blanche Schwappach-Pignataro of the University of Hamburg and Michael Albrecht of the Technical University of Dresden. The German government is supporting the university medicine research network with 150 million euros.

In view of the many questions that the novel coronavirus still raises, corona research has high priority, said Karliczek. The Federal Government is therefore supporting research with all its strength. The Minister also emphasised that this disease is "not to be trifled with". This would become all the more obvious "the more we learn about it". Covid-19 is "not a pipe dream, but a real, serious threat that is claiming a large number of victims worldwide". It is therefore important to consistently observe the rules of distance and hygiene.

 

+++ Tuesday, May 19th +++

"We must act - we must act European, so that we can get out of this crisis in good shape". German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with French President Emmanuel Macron, presented a Franco-German initiative to help Europe recover from the corona crisis. The corona pandemic is the most serious crisis the European Union has ever faced in its history, Merkel said. "The Franco-German friendship calls on us to send this signal," Merkel said. The aim of the initiative is for Europe to emerge from this crisis strengthened, united and in solidarity. There was a danger that the economic impact of the Corona pandemic would threaten cohesion in the European Union. The 500 billion euro fund is intended to help all states in Europe to react to the crisis accordingly. "Europe must stand together", said Merkel. 

Germany and France have proposed these measures, among others:

- Strategic sovereignty in the health sector and the development of an EU "health strategy

- Establishing an ambitious economic recovery fund at EU level for solidarity and growth

- Accelerating the Green Deal and digitisation

- Strengthening the economic and industrial resilience and sovereignty of the EU and giving new impetus to the internal market

 

+++ Monday, May 18th +++

Germany wants to create the conditions for travel holidays to be possible - but only under responsible circumstances, said Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a press conference on Monday. The aim is to convert the travel warning into country-specific travel advice from 15 June. Nonetheless, Maas warned that it must be made quite clear that there will be restrictions everywhere - on beaches, in restaurants, in the city centres - if a holiday is taken. The Federal Foreign Minister had previously discussed in a video conference with his European counterparts from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Cyprus how a gradual return to European freedom of movement and tourism could be achieved this summer. According to Maas, the procedure must be based on the occurrence of infection and therefore cannot be the same in all countries - neither nationally nor regionally.

 

+++ Sunday, May 17th +++

The corona pandemic did not affect economic output until March. Nevertheless, the Federal Statistical Office recorded the sharpest fall in gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2020 since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, with a 2.2 percent drop compared with the previous quarter. There was a sharp drop in private consumer spending, including investments in machinery, equipment and vehicles. Government spending and investments in buildings prevented an even sharper decline in GDP. In the first quarter of 2020, economic output was generated by around 45 million people in employment - 147,000 or 0.3 percent more than a year ago, with short-time working also counted as employment. Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier pointed out that the protective shields are working. "We need a follow-up regulation for the companies particularly affected. At the same time, we need a roadmap to overcome the crisis quickly and return to the path of growth," he said. He added that this would involve a broad-based economic stimulus package and structural reforms.

 

+++ Friday, May 15th +++

The Federal Government and the Länder have agreed on an immediate programme for better digital learning - it comprises 550 million euros. The money will be used to procure mobile devices for pupils. In addition, support will be provided for school equipment required for professional online teaching. Since teaching in the foreseeable future will consist of a mixture of face-to-face classes and digital learning from home, "as many pupils as possible should have digital terminals", said Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek. For this reason, the Federal Government is investing an additional 500 million euro, the Länder 50 million euro. It is planned that the mobile terminals will be lent to pupils by the schools and school authorities on their own initiative. The devices will remain the property of the schools, which will then be able to continue using them in future regular operations. The immediate action programme will be recorded as a supplementary agreement to the "Digital Pact for Schools".

 

+++ Thursday, May 14th +++

More tests and reporting requirements to detect and break the infection chains earlier - these are the main focuses of the Second Law for the Protection of the Population in the Event of an Epidemic Situation of National Significance. It was passed in the Bundestag on Thursday and today, Friday, in the Bundesrat.  "In this way, we will prevent uncontrolled outbreaks and ensure that our health system does not continue to be overburdened," said Federal Minister of Health Spahn. The law also provides for employees in the care of the elderly to receive a one-time corona premium of up to 1,000 euros. In addition, the Public Health Service (ÖGD) will be strengthened by measures taken by the federal government during an epidemic situation of national importance - in particular to promote digitalisation. Approximately 50 million euro will be made available for this purpose. In addition, care-giving relatives are to receive better support. You can find a detailed report here.

 

+++ Wednesday, May 13th +++

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on citizens to continue to be "courageous and vigilant". "Let's gradually reopen public and economic life - while always keeping an eye on the development of the pandemic," said the Chancellor during the government survey in the Bundestag. She added that there were still no medicines and no vaccine, and that the virus remained a danger for each and every one of us. "We have not, after all, since March taken upon ourselves all previously unimaginable restrictions in our lives, in our work and economic activities, including temporary restrictions on our rights, only to risk a relapse now, because we have abandoned caution," the Chancellor said.  In recent weeks and months, she said, the spread of the coronavirus had been slowed down because all citizens had "stuck together during a difficult time and under severe restrictions". It was "an obligation not to endanger what we have achieved together", Merkel stressed. The Chancellor appealed once again to respect the "new ground rules": Keep a minimum distance, wash your hands regularly and respect your fellow human beings' need for protection.

+++

There will be a gradual relaxation of border controls as a result of the positive development in the incidence of infection. This was reported to the federal cabinet by Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer. Further information and the press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior on the changes in the border regime can be found here.
 The following individual decisions were made:
- All cross-border traffic connections will again be permitted to cross the border.
- In principle, the requirement of a valid reason for entry will be retained, but there will be additional facilitations for travel for family or personal reasons.
- At the border with Luxembourg, internal border controls will end at the end of 15 May 2020.
- At the border with Denmark, border controls will also be discontinued. The date will be fixed jointly with Denmark.
At the same time, the Federal Minister of the Interior warned: "If the infection rate deteriorates, it would be possible to quickly return to a higher intensity of controls in mutual consultation with the neighbouring states. Since the positive development in some countries is not yet stable in the long term, internal border controls will be continued at certain borders in order to remain responsive. At the borders with France, Austria and Switzerland, border controls will be continued - in coordination with neighbouring countries - from 16 May initially until 15 June 2020. However, the controls will be flexible and random, rather than systematic as in the past. If the development of the incidence of infection permits, the aim is to end corona-based internal border controls by 15 June 2020. On the recommendation of the European Commission, the restrictions on entry from third countries are to be extended until 15 June 2020. The Federal Ministry of the Interior also recommends that the federal states adapt their quarantine regulations for those entering and returning to Germany. A 14-day quarantine is to be ordered in future only for entries from third countries.

 

+++ Tuesday, May 12th +++

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has emphasised the importance of the health authorities in the fight against coronavirus. The public health service plays a "central role", said the Chancellor after a video conference with employees of the Harz District Health Office. She said that the federal government was doing everything necessary to strengthen the health offices. In addition to the so-called scouts who are already supporting the health offices, the Bundeswehr is also ready to help. He added that health offices were the crucial point in order to be able to trace the contact persons of newly infected persons. The Chancellor stressed that Germany is now entering a new phase of the pandemic. In spite of all the loosening, she said, it was necessary that people continue to observe the basic commandments: Keep their distance, wear mouth and nose protection, and show consideration for each other.

+++

In order to support the production and development of a vaccine against Covid-19, the German government has committed further financial resources. Up to 750 million euros are available for this purpose. This will enable upcoming vaccine studies with larger numbers of test persons. Investments will also be made in the expansion of production capacities. The statement by Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek can be found here. Karliczek announced that approximately 500 million euros will be used to expand study capacities for vaccine testing in Germany. Another 250 million euros are planned for the expansion of vaccine production capacities in Germany. "As soon as a vaccine has been found and approved, production must be able to start quickly and on a large scale, both in Germany and worldwide," said Karliczek.

 

+++ Monday, May 11th +++

The Federal Government is working together with the federal states to ensure that the German cultural landscape can continue to exist after the corona pandemic. This was assured by Chancellor Angela Merkel in her current video podcast. She referred to the programme for solo self-employed persons and easier access to basic security. In addition, the Federal Government supports cultural institutions in paying fees for engagements that were cancelled due to the Corona pandemic.

+++ Friday, May 8th +++

Digital learning is of great importance during the corona pandemic. To ensure that schools are well equipped during this period, they will receive 100 million euros from the Digital Pact for Schools in the short term. This has been agreed by the federal and state governments. "These days, digital learning and teaching is a good way of cushioning the impact of cancelled lessons for pupils," emphasised Federal Education Minister Karliczek.
The funds will be made available for setting up and expanding online learning platforms. Minister of Education Karliczek also attaches great importance to supporting teachers in their currently particularly demanding task.
The Digital Pact for Schools came into force a year ago. Within the framework of the Pact, the Federal Government is making five billion euros available for the digitisation of Germany's schools until 2024. In addition, the federal states will contribute just over 500 million euros. In order to receive the money, schools must submit their own didactic concepts for digital teaching.  

+++ Wednesday, May 6th +++

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) has expanded its "Emergency Information and News App" (NINA for short) and supplemented it with information on corona. In this way, the BBK is responding to the ongoing need for comprehensive and up-to-date information in connection with the corona virus and the pandemic it has triggered.

What are the current regulations on contacts and travel, for example? What to do in case of suspected corona? Who regulates what in the state in case of Corona? Who helps when the family situation becomes increasingly difficult due to quarantine? NINA wants to help with these questions. NINA's new information offer is not identical with the so-called tracing app, which is currently being developed on behalf of the Federal Government.

The new version 3.1 of NINA is now available for the operating systems iOS and Android.

+++ Tuesday, May 5th +++

The Federal Government provides emergency aid for cultural institutions and creative artists from the budget of Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters. An aid programme with a volume of up to 5.4 million euros is intended to support independent orchestras and ensembles based in Germany in implementing new presentation formats in times of contact restrictions. Up to 200,000 euros per applicant are planned. The programme runs until the end of the year.
Many freelance artists have lost their income. For this reason, the Federal Government enables cultural institutions to pay cancellation fees of up to 60 percent of the actual fee in the case of cancelled events - even without a corresponding contractual agreement and up to 2,500 euros. This regulation applies to cultural institutions and projects that the Federal Government supports.
Minister of State for Culture Grütters also announced that museums, memorials, exhibition halls and houses of culture would be supported through the "Neustart" programme. Ten million euros have been earmarked to promote hygiene measures, the installation of protective equipment and appropriate visitor management. Between 10,000 and 50,000 euros are available per cultural institution.

+++ Sunday, May 3rd +++

Prior to the donor conference on combating the Corona pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel is counting on close international cooperation. The focus is on "how we develop vaccines, provide medicines and good diagnostic tools for all people in the world," says Merkel in her video podcast. Germany wants to work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), which plays a key role in this issue, the Chancellor said. Germany is one of the hosts of the conference on 4 May, which the EU Commission has invited to attend. The video conference is intended to secure start-up funding. The money will be used to advance the development and introduction of globally available and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. An estimated eight billion euros are still missing for the development of a vaccine, says Chancellor Merkel. Therefore, it is a good thing that a large alliance is now committed to this work and that as many players as possible are involved, also with financial contributions, in order to enable, among other things, the development and production of vaccines and drugs. "Germany will make a significant financial contribution," said the Chancellor.

+++ Friday, May 1st +++

Worship services and prayer events should soon be possible again nationwide under certain conditions. The federal and state governments agreed to this on Thursday. Playgrounds, museums, exhibitions, zoos and botanical gardens will also be able to reopen throughout Germany under certain conditions. The states are responsible for the implementation. In addition, a somewhat larger portion of hospital capacity is to be reopened for plannable operations. It remains the great responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that there is no relapse, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized after the switching conference with the heads of government of the federal states. Contact restrictions are to remain in place in principle until 10 May. Details will be regulated by the states. The federal and state governments want to decide on further steps on May 6.

+++

Federal Minister of Labour Heil has confirmed the effect of the short-time working regulations in the Corona pandemic. Millions of jobs would be secured as a result. Meanwhile, Federal Economic Minister Altmaier presented a four-step plan for the German economy. Short-time work may be expensive, but unemployment is many times more expensive - according to Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil. "Germany has a strong state. We have a strong society and a strong economy, so that we are in a position to pass this test", he explained when presenting the current labour market figures. The economy and labour market are under pressure from the corona pandemic. Between the beginning of March and 26 April 2020, the Federal Employment Agency received 751,000 notifications from companies of short-time work for 10.1 million employees. The unemployment rate has risen by 0.7 percentage points to 5.8 percent - an increase of 0.9 points compared to April of the previous year. Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier sees "a perspective of hope for an economic restart" - provided that the pandemic can continue to be successfully contained. A four-step plan for the restart of the economy is intended to help here. In addition to the further development of existing aid, this plan provides for further immediate measures and a needs-based economic stimulus package.

+++

The Corona pandemic is causing financial problems for many students. Two thirds of the students work while studying. Many of them have lost their jobs due to the current situation. For some of them, financial support from their parents also breaks off or is reduced. The Federal Ministry of Education now offers them a bridging aid. "We must not allow the corona pandemic to force students to abandon or abandon their studies," said Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek. Up to one billion euros are available in total. Students now have the opportunity to apply for an interest-free loan from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) in the initial phase - on the basis of the long-standing KfW student loan. This applies both to new applicants and to those who will be paid out loans already running until March 2021. For the particularly affected group of foreign students, the Student Loan is to be opened from July 2020 to March 2021. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing the German Student Union with 100 million euros for the emergency aid funds of the local student unions.


+++ Thursday, April 30th +++

The German government wants to enable more tests for the coronavirus in order to detect and break through infection chains earlier. As the cabinet decided on Wednesday, the reporting requirements will also be expanded. In the future, the number of recoveries and negative laboratory tests on Covid-19 will also be passed on. The tests will be paid for by the public health insurance. The federal government will also strengthen the public health service. For example, it will finance training courses for mobile teams that support the health authorities in tracking contact persons. Staggered special benefits are to be paid to employees in nursing care for the elderly. Two thirds of these "corona premiums" are to be financed by the social nursing care insurance system, while employers and the Länder are to contribute one third.

 

+++ Wednesday, April 29th +++

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has proposed to partially re-use capacities that have been kept free so far for patients who are not infected with the coronavirus. Currently, the capacities of hospitals would not be fully used due to uncertainties about the further development of the corona pandemic, according to a concept that Spahn presented to the federal states. The now linear development of new corona infections allows the hospitals to gradually develop a new daily routine and, from May onwards, to use part of the hospital capacities for operations that can be planned. The opening of the clinics must be made adaptable. It is not yet possible to predict the epidemiological effects of the social and economic easing that has taken place in the meantime. In a next step, the permanent provision of intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients needs to be better and more accurately planned. The capacities for plannable operations would have to remain limited despite the opening. Therefore a basis for decision making has to be developed, according to which criteria these operations are prioritized. A permanent exclusive prioritisation of only a certain group of patients could not be justified, especially due to the principle of equality.

+++

"The more we act together, the better we can avoid human suffering and economic disruption," said Chancellor Merkel at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue with regard to pandemics and climate protection. She called for climate-friendly investments in sustainable technologies. The economic damage caused by the corona pandemic would make the distribution debate difficult, she said. "This makes it all the more important, when we introduce economic stimulus packages, to always keep a close eye on climate protection." He said that savings should not be made in climate protection, but that investments should be made in sustainable technologies. The international commitments had to be brought forward strongly. This was essential for global success in climate protection.

"Economy and ecology must be thought of together", said Merkel. This must also be done with a view to biodiversity. "Because we know that natural habitats are shrinking. This has serious consequences for biodiversity. And that in turn poses a threat to us humans as well." According to scientists, 60 percent of all infectious diseases have been transmitted from animals to humans in recent decades. "So there is no way around making progress in the international protection of biodiversity and forests. By next year's 15th UN Conference on the Implementation of the Biodiversity Convention, we need a new framework for the protection of biodiversity.
The 17 goals of Agenda 2030 - including health and climate protection - made it clear that sustainable development could not be achieved at the expense of individual goals and not on its own: "Like all the goals of Agenda 2030, we can ultimately only successfully meet the challenge of climate protection if we act consistently both nationally and act together internationally.
She hopes that the Petersberg Climate Dialogue will send a signal that "climate protection and biodiversity are of the utmost importance, especially in times of a global pandemic crisis.

+++

The corona pandemic and the measures adopted by the Federal Government and the German Bundestag affect almost all areas of life. It is therefore very important for the Federal Government to focus on all those affected. You can find an overview of the measures here PDF, 205 KB, barrier-free .
The Federal Government is pursuing three objectives in its actions:
1. to protect health and maintain the efficiency of the health system.
2. cushion the consequences for citizens, employees and companies.
3. dealing with the pandemic through international cooperation.
The Federal Government and the Länder regularly review the measures adopted to determine whether they are still necessary and proportionate or whether adjustments are necessary. In answering this question, careful consideration is given to which measures will effectively prevent the spread of the virus and which social and economic consequential costs are associated with each.

+++

The German government is providing 1.5 million euros for cultural centres in rural communities and small towns with up to 20,000 inhabitants. The funds can be applied for via the project "Land intact - Cultural Centres Emergency Aid Programme". Click here to go directly to the call for proposals. "The opportunity to experience art and culture is a decisive prerequisite for equal living conditions throughout Germany," said Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters.

 

+++ Tuesday, April 28th +++

The Federal Government, in coordination with the State of Hesse, is granting Condor Flugdienst GmbH support in the form of a KfW loan of 550 million euros. "The Federal Government and the State of Hesse continue to support Condor in these difficult times. The company was operationally healthy and profitable in normal times and has good prospects for the future," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. The aid is intended to cushion the consequences of the Corona-related shutdown. By providing a new working capital line, Condor can continue its business operations. The KfW loan is 100 per cent guaranteed by the Federal Government, the State of Hesse has a 50 per cent share of the federal risk. The European Commission has approved the loan under state aid law and published it today.

 

+++ Monday, April 27th +++

Compensation for loss of earnings due to Corona can now be applied for online. Anyone who is placed in quarantine because of the corona virus or who is not allowed to work because of his or her own infection and therefore suffers a loss of earnings will receive compensation for his or her loss of earnings on the basis of the Protection against Infection Act. Self-employed persons and employers who have to pay compensation to their employees can submit applications. All information on the right to compensation and the application procedure is now available here. Applications can be made via the same website from next week. The applications are sent digitally to the competent authority in the country concerned. The online procedure was developed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Homeland Affairs and the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Health.

+++

In a joint statement, the head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, and the Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, announced their intention to "promote the use of a consistently decentralized software architecture" for the application of a corona app in Germany. The aim is that, in view of the current relaxation of contact restrictions, "the tracing app will be ready for use very soon and will be widely accepted by the population and civil society". The use of the app should be voluntary. At the same time, data protection and IT security must be guaranteed. The aim of the app is to identify the contacts of a person infected with Corona and to interrupt the chain of infection.

 

+++ Saturday, April 25th +++

A new international initiative is to advance the development of vaccines and drugs against the coronavirus. The aim of the initiative of WHO and other global health actors is to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapies for Covid-19. To this end, the EU Commission is organising an international donor conference on 4 May, at which Germany will co-host the conference. A total of eight billion euros were missing. This financial gap needs to be closed, said Chancellor Angela Merkel and asked politicians and industry for support. From the German side, she announced a "substantial contribution".

+++

Chancellor Angela Merkel held a video conference on Friday with representatives of business associations and trade unions to discuss the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the German economy. The discussion focused on the challenges facing particularly affected sectors such as retail, the hotel and restaurant industry, but also parts of industry. Federal Ministers Olaf Scholz, Peter Altmaier, Hubertus Heil, Jens Spahn, Andreas Scheuer and Helge Braun also took part in the video conference. In order to minimise disruptions, particularly in European supply chains, the Chancellor spoke out in favour of joint action in Europe. Another topic was appropriate economic policy measures that could help to support the economic recovery in Germany and Europe. The Federal Government has put together a protective umbrella for the economy with grants, guarantees, tax relief and unlimited liquidity assistance.

 

+++ Friday, April 24th +++

The European Council held a videoconference on the coronavirus pandemic and the fight against its economic consequences. Chancellor Merkel then explained that an economic stimulus package was needed in Europe and was also in Germany's interest. The focus was on how Europe could meet the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and how it could do this together. This was said by Chancellor Angela Merkel after the video conference of the European Council in Berlin on Thursday evening. "We need - also in the German interest - an economic stimulus package in Europe," Merkel said. She said that the EU Commission should now make proposals for its design. It would also be essential to invest in the future - in climate protection, innovative mobility, digitalization. The EU heads of state and government approved the package of measures agreed by the EU finance ministers two weeks ago. This provides for more than 500 billion euros in aid - consisting of loans from the European Investment Bank for small and medium-sized enterprises, an EU short-time working allowance and precautionary credit lines from the ESM for the states. Chancellor Merkel explained that the aim was that the funds could be used from 1 June. To this end, she said, the German Bundestag must also be involved.

 

+++ Thursday, April 23rd +++

In her government statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel referred to the first successes in combating the coronavirus pandemic: By working together, she said, "we have managed to ensure that the virus has at least slowed down on its way through Germany and Europe". This was only possible with the help of citizens who "do something for their fellow human beings with heart and mind", the Chancellor stressed. "This makes me infinitely grateful," said Merkel. Germany is still at the beginning of the pandemic, the Chancellor said.

"But together, and I am convinced of this after these first weeks of the pandemic, we will succeed in mastering this gigantic challenge. Merkel emphasized that the restrictions of the past few weeks have achieved an important goal: "Our health care system has so far stood the test. However, he added that it is still important to remain disciplined in order to effectively combat the coronavirus pandemic. "Let's not gamble away what we have achieved," Merkel appealed. Merkel underlined the importance of European solidarity in overcoming the pandemic: the main thing now is to "act quickly". Germany would work on a European economic recovery plan that could support the necessary upturn, the Chancellor said.

+++

The Ministry of Labour has decided to increase the minimum wages for nursing assistants in four steps to 12.55 euros per hour nationwide from 1 May 2020 to 1 April 2022. A minimum wage of 12.50 euros (in the West) or 12.20 euros (in the East) will apply to qualified auxiliary nursing staff with a one-year training course from 1 April 2021. From April 1, 2022, the minimum wage will be 13.20 euros in the East and West. Nursing specialists with a three-year training course will receive at least 15 euros per hour nationwide from 1 July 2021, and on 1 April 2022 the minimum wage will rise to 15.40 euros. In addition to the statutory holiday entitlement, there will be further paid holidays for all nursing staff. Particularly in times of the corona pandemic, the great responsibility that nursing staff have for people's health and lives is demonstrated once again. Nursing staff deserve recognition, but not only that. Their working conditions have to be improved, and the profession has to become more attractive for new entrants. The recommendations made by the nursing care commission are now being implemented with the regulation issued by the Federal Ministry of Employment.

+++

In order to be able to adequately assess the incidence of infection with the coronavirus, there is "not just one figure that is solely decisive," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday. On their own, these data quickly reach the limits of their meaningfulness. Therefore, a number of indicators play a role. In addition to relations, curves and percentages, the following questions are always important: How many people are infected, how many are ill, how many of them are seriously ill? How many beds are needed in hospitals, how many in intensive care? The Robert Koch Institute as the responsible federal institute provides comprehensive information on the coronavirus and reports continuously on the number of infections.

+++

The Federal Government is in a position to support citizens and the economy over a longer period of time - in the coronavirus pandemic, the solid financial policy of the past years is paying off. This is shown by the German Stability Programme 2020, which the Cabinet approved on Wednesday. It will now be sent to the European Commission and the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (Ecofin Council) - in accordance with the Stability and Growth Pact. According to the Stability and Growth Pact, German financial policy is currently dominated by the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic and its economic consequences. In 2020, the volume of the measures affecting the national budget will amount to around 453 billion euros, the total volume of guarantees will amount to around 820 billion euros. In addition, the Federal Government continues to pursue its long-term goals - including high investments for climate protection. You can read more about the stability programme here.

 

+++ Wednesday, April 22nd +++

In a special meeting, the G20 agriculture ministers and representatives of international organisations agreed to work more closely together to strengthen trade and supply chains in corona times and to ensure global food security. In addition, the economic consequences of the pandemic for farmers and consumers, especially in poorer regions, are to be mitigated. The objectives in detail:

    + Maintaining supply chains: Export restrictions should only be possible in emergencies and should comply with WTO rules.
    + Strengthening of the G20 agricultural market information system AMIS to promote the transparency of the international food market.
    + Closer cooperation as well as increased cooperation with the private sector in order to secure food supplies.
    + Combating food waste and losses.
    + Support for farmers and people in rural areas, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
    + Continued cooperation with international organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
    + Close cooperation between the G20 agriculture ministers to ensure that corona measures are constantly adapted.

"Free trade means food security, also and especially in times of crisis", emphasised Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner. For this reason, she said, Germany had advocated that all G20 countries should commit themselves to imposing export restrictions only in exceptional cases.

 

+++ Tuesday, April 21st +++

Consumers should refrain from making new travel plans at this time. The worldwide travel warning issued by the Federal Foreign Office is still valid. "We have decided to issue a warning from now on against all unnecessary tourist travel abroad", said Federal Foreign Minister Maas. Whether and what kind of travel at home and abroad will be possible in summer depends on the worldwide development of the corona pandemic. Many popular holiday destinations currently have exit restrictions and entry bans. The current contact restrictions in Germany apply until 3 May. Until then, the Federal Government will reassess the development and decide on further measures. In the case of trips that have already been booked, it depends on the type of trip you have booked. The following applies to package tours: With the worldwide travel warning about the coronavirus, you can cancel upcoming package tours free of charge. If you are planning a trip at a later date, you should contact your tour operator, accommodation or airline early on. These often react to the newer developments themselves. Further information can be obtained from, among others, the consumer advice centre and the European Consumer Centre.

+++

Following the meeting of the "Corona Cabinet", Chancellor Merkel stressed that despite the successes achieved so far, citizens must remain "vigilant and disciplined". She said that only in a fortnight's time will it be known what the consequences of the loosening of restrictions agreed upon between the federal and state governments will be. "We must not allow ourselves to lull ourselves into a second of security", said the Chancellor. You can see the statement in the video here. As the Chancellor stressed, she was aware of the plight of many people. Nevertheless, she warned against the risk of a relapse with hasty loosening of the rules "with her eyes open". "We are far from out of the woods," said the Chancellor. The fact that the reproduction factor is currently below the value of one is thanks to the citizens who, with "excessive discipline and a great deal of patience", have borne all the restrictions. "Today, too, I would like to thank them once again from the bottom of my heart", said the Chancellor. The "Corona Cabinet" decided on Monday to further strengthen the public health service: Among other things, 105 mobile teams will support the local offices. They are to help track down contact persons, Chancellor Merkel said. You can read the detailed report on the Chancellor's statement here.

+++

A gradual opening of day-care centres in Germany could only be achieved depending on the further course of the corona pandemic, emphasised Federal Minister for Family Affairs Franziska Giffey. This will also be taken into account by the federal and state working group, which is now developing guidelines and recommendations. Minister Giffey said that the perspectives of parents, children and educators must be taken into account. Parents would slowly reach their limits due to the closure of the day-care centres. Many children are suffering because they are not allowed to play with friends of the same age. In addition, Giffey stressed that aspects such as lack of language support should not be lost sight of. It was important for the educators to observe health and safety at work when resuming daycare operations. The Federal-Länder working group therefore also discussed recommendations for a hygiene plan. Giffey expressed his relief that in the current period of day-care centre closures, many federal states are providing more families with emergency care for their children. He said that it was often enough for one parent to work in a so-called systemically important profession.

+++ Monday, April 20th +++

The Federal Government is offering aid to the catering and hotel industry affected by the Corona pandemic. The industry needed "support so that it can get back on its feet once the crisis has subsided", Federal Economic Minister Altmaier told the newspaper "Bild am Sonntag". The Economics Minister called the lowering of the VAT rate for restaurants to seven percent a "proposal that deserves careful consideration". In an interview with the newspaper "Welt am Sonntag," Federal Finance Minister Scholz emphasized that the examination for further assistance "will focus primarily on those industries for which the situation is not yet ready to start again so quickly. The hotel and restaurant industry is certainly one of them".

+++ Friday, April 16th +++

Clear and binding nationwide occupational safety standards are to protect employees from infection with the coronavirus. Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil has presented a paper with concrete requirements for health protection in the world of work. According to the paper, companies should, for example, expand occupational health precautions, ensure that safety distances are maintained at work, take additional hygiene measures and ensure that risk groups are especially protected. Further information on the new Covid 19 occupational health and safety standard can be found here.
The supplementary standards are necessary because more people will return to their workplaces as a result of the relaxation of corona measures decided on by the Federal and State Governments. The accident insurance institutions will concretize and further develop the general corona virus occupational health and safety standard with industry-specific information and consulting services.

+++

The soldiers of the Nato states have already carried out more than 100 transport flights to provide medical personnel and equipment to cope with the Corona pandemic. More than 4,000 military medical personnel are supporting the civilian forces and more than 25,0000 beds have been provided for treatment. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the joint action of the military alliance in the Corona pandemic. "The crisis has shown that our allies are resilient and united," said Stoltenberg after a video conference with NATO defence ministers.
Germany is also participating. For example, the German Armed Forces have provided support in transporting critically ill corona patients from Italy and France to German hospitals and supplied respiratory equipment to Great Britain. Further information on Bundeswehr measures in connection with the corona epidemic can be found here.

+++

In order to secure supplier credits for German companies and to support the economy in difficult times, the Federal Government has agreed a protective shield together with the credit insurers. For the year 2020, the Federal Government will assume a guarantee for indemnification payments by the ECAs in the amount of 30 billion euros". With the protective shield, we are securing the flow of goods and thus ensuring a smooth flow of goods, which we urgently need right now," says Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. Credit insurance protects suppliers from payment defaults if a customer at home or abroad cannot or does not want to pay the invoice.

+++

The corona pandemic can only be defeated with a strong and coordinated international response - this was stressed by Chancellor Angela Merkel after a video conference of the G7 heads of state and government. She also underlined the important role of WHO and other international health organisations. The Chancellor also welcomed the initiative of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to host a virtual donor conference on Covid-19 on 4 May. She stressed the need for rapid support for African countries. Against this background, she said that yesterday's agreement by G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on a debt moratorium for developing countries was very helpful. However, she said that further possible measures needed to be considered.

+++ Thursday, April 16th +++

The contact restrictions in force since mid-March will in principle be extended until 3 May 2020.

  • School operations are to be gradually resumed from 4 May onwards - initially with priority for graduating classes and qualification-relevant year groups and the last class of primary school.
  • Examinations and exam preparation for the final classes of this school year should be able to take place again.
  • The Conference of Education Ministers has been instructed to submit a concept by 29 April for further steps to resume teaching as a whole.
  • Emergency care will be continued and extended to other occupational and requirement groups.
  • Shops with a sales area of up to 800 square metres and, irrespective of the sales area, car dealers, bicycle dealers and bookstores can reopen. In doing so, they must comply with regulations on hygiene, access control and avoiding queues.  
  • Hairdressers should prepare themselves to resume operations from 4 May onwards under the same conditions and by wearing personal protective clothing.
  • Meetings in churches, mosques and synagogues as well as religious ceremonies and events are to be suspended for the time being.
  • Citizens remain called upon to continue to refrain from private travel and visits.
  • Major events will remain prohibited at least until 31 August 2020.
  • In good time before 4 May, the Federal Chancellor and the heads of the Länder governments will reassess developments and decide on further measures.

+++

The border controls temporarily reintroduced at the internal borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy and Spain will be extended by order of the Federal Ministry of the Interior for another 20 days until 4 May 2020. The aim is to further contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Border controls had been temporarily reintroduced on 16 March at the internal land borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark. On 26 March, the Federal Government extended the controls to include the airside borders with the above-mentioned states as well as with Italy and Spain and, on the sea side, with Denmark. The basis of the decision is Article 28 of the Schengen Borders Code.

+++ Wednesday, April 15th +++

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the police crime prevention departments of the federal and state governments warn against fake websites in connection with Corona emergency aid. These pages look strikingly genuine, are prominently placed in search engines and serve the purpose of retrieving the data of the applicants. The data collected in this way can later be used for fraud offences.

Do not give fraudsters a chance! Only use the websites of the official regional offices to submit applications for emergency aid. Click here to go to the relevant authorities. Tips on phishing in connection with the Corona epidemic can be found at the BSI, for recognition and correct handling of fake Internet pages, visit the website of the State Office of Criminal Investigation NRW.

+++ Tuesday, April 14th +++

Cruise shipping companies can now apply to suspend debt repayments on their cruise ships financed with government export credit guarantees for one year. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics this is to avoid liquidity bottlenecks and protect thousands of jobs. As a result of the corona epidemic cruise shipping companies worldwide had to virtually suspend their business operations - with negative consequences for European shipbuilders. Cancellation of ship orders and postponement of investments in new buildings would have fatal consequences for employees in the European shipyard industry and in the numerous supplier companies.

+++ Friday, April 10th +++

According to Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the European Union will provide "three strong answers" to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. He said this after the EU finance ministers agreed on a protection program of 500 billion euros on Thursday evening. This comprises three parts:

- Aid for small and medium-sized enterprises through the European Investment Bank

- Support for employees through an instrument of short-time work as we know it in Germany

- Credit lines for states via the European Rescue Scheme ESM

"Today is a great day of European solidarity and also strength," Scholz explained in his video statement. Both mankind and Europe were challenged by the virus pandemic. It was important to provide joint answers. "It is about the health of the citizens, it is about job security and it is about the fact that many companies are surviving in this crisis." He added that this was a challenge for the European Union.

+++ Thursday, April 9th +++

The EU warns against online fraud and unfair practices related to the coronavirus. For example, masks, medicines or disinfectants are sold as "remedies and protection" at many times their real value. The EU warning including tips on how to recognise dubious online traders can be found here. Caution is advised if there are explicit or implicit statements that a product can prevent or cure Covid-19 infections. Another popular scam: limited stocks are faked. For example, a product is "only available today" or "sold out quickly", it is then said.

+++

The Cabinet has decided to make life easier for students and scientists in tiems of Corona. For scientists and researchers who are in their qualification phase, the maximum time limits will be extended - by the time pandemic-related restrictions on university and scientific operations occur. Students who receive BAföG benefits are allowed to improve their income by working to combat the coronavirus pandemic. These are not counted towards the BAföG rate. "The Federal Government wants to alleviate the pandemic-related impairments for scientists quickly and unbureaucratically and create additional incentives for BAföG recipients", said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. Both regulations were launched by the Federal Cabinet on Wednesday.

+++

Chinese companies have resumed production for medical goods, some of which had been ordered for a long time, and can thus meet their delivery obligations again. The German government welcomes this development. The first eight million protective masks arrived in Munich on Tuesday. You can find a tweet of the BMVI here.  On 25 March, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on the phone with Chinese President XI Jingping to exchange views on the current global challenge posed by the Covid 19 pandemic. In their conversation they agreed that the current crisis situation can only be resolved through close international cooperation. This includes a functioning trade in important medical goods. The goods are transported by Deutsche Lufthansa.

+++

In their spring report, the experts expect a 4.2 percent decline in economic output due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the researchers predict a recovery and growth of 5.8 percent for the coming year. The development has an impact on the labour market: at its peak, the unemployment rate could rise to 5.9 percent and the number of short-time workers to 2.4 million, according to the report. You can find further information here. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier emphasized that he feels that the report confirms his assessment: "However, the figures from the economic research institutes also show very clearly that our measures, especially short-time work, are having an effect in order to limit the rise in unemployment.

+++ Wednesday, April 8th +++

The measures taken by the federal and state governments in the fight against the coronavirus are showing results. Nevertheless, despite the successes already achieved, it is still too early for any relaxation. "We would be a bad Federal Government if we were to name a date now", Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed on Monday. You can see the Chancellor's statement here. Nevertheless, Merkel said that there were intensive considerations as to how "we can gradually open up life again, even if health protection is maintained". In recent weeks, the infection rate has noticeably decreased. One infected person currently infects statistically 1.2 to 1.5 additional people. Initially the figure was five to seven people. You can read the current case numbers and the assessment of the Robert Koch Institute here. In her weekly podcast, the Chancellor had also emphasized that it would be "absolutely irresponsible" to name a specific day on which the measures could be relaxed.

+++ Tuesday, April 7th +++

In order to further slow down the spread of the coronavirus, the federal government is proposing stricter entry requirements. If the federal states agree to the decision, the new rules could come into force on April 10th. According to the new rules, a two-week quarantine will apply to Germans, EU citizens, citizens of a Schengen-associated state or persons who have lived in Germany for many years and who, after a stay abroad of at least several days, enter Germany to return to their place of residence in Germany. The exact procedure will be agreed with the countries in the coming days. This procedure is necessary because we now have "the world as a risk area", Chancellor Angela Merkel explained the decision. The aim of the measures is to prevent new chains of infection caused by entering the country from abroad. At the same time, unnecessary entries are to be avoided.

+++

The Federal Government is expanding credit assistance for small and medium-sized enterprises. The new programme "KfW Quick Loan 2020" makes it possible to provide support for SMEs even faster. "With the KfW Quick Loan we are now launching another programme that will complement the existing offers. It is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses that now need support very, very quickly and is based on different conditions than our other forms of assistance, which will of course continue to exist," announced Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

The new programme "KfW Quick Loan 2020" will be 100 percent exempt from liability. The Federal Government is thus creating the conditions for rapid and uncomplicated provision by the main banks. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier emphasised: "SMEs are the backbone of our economy and are particularly affected by this crisis. It is therefore crucial that we maintain this unique substance and breadth so that we can get back on track after the crisis".

 

+++ Monday, April 6th +++

Especially for families living together in a very confined space, the current situation due to the corona pandemic is a great test. Especially in the cities there is an increasing threat of domestic violence. This was pointed out by the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey. "There is obviously a gap between town and country", the Minister explained. She had already received feedback from Berlin last week that reports of domestic violence had risen by ten percent.
The situation is obviously different in rural areas. Where there are more opportunities to go outside and where people do not live so much in a confined space, the potential for conflict is not so high, said Giffey. No higher case numbers are known from these regions so far.
Help phone "Number against sorrow"
Anyone who needs support in cases of domestic violence or has questions can turn to various counselling centres throughout the country. In addition, the help telephone "Number against sorrow" is available. According to Minister Giffey, there has been an increase of more than 20 percent in the number of calls to the "number against grief". However, this could also be due to the fact that the help line has been increasingly advertised. Apart from children, women are particularly vulnerable to domestic violence. The nationwide help line "Gewalt gegen Frauen" (Violence against Women) supports women in need around the clock, anonymously and in 18 languages.

+++

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 91,714 people in Germany have been proven to be infected with the coronavirus (as of April 5, 0:00 am). That is 5,936 more than the day before. The number of deaths rose by 184 to 1,342. Further data can be found here at the RKI. According to the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA), 1,204,246 people in 181 countries worldwide have become infected with the coronavirus. 64,806 people have died from the virus (as of April 5, 9:54 am). Further figures can be found on the website of Johns Hopkins University.

Measures show effect

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the measures taken to contain the pandemic are showing results. For a few days now, an infected person has on average only infected one more person, RKI President Lothar Wieler reported on Friday (3 April). In recent weeks, this figure had been between five and seven people. However, this is no reason to give the all-clear: "We have to push this number below one", Wieler said. Only then will the number of illnesses decrease. He hopes that this will be achieved in the coming days. The prerequisite is that hygiene and distance regulations continue to be strictly adhered to, Wieler affirmed.

+++ Sunday, April 5th +++

With immediate effect, special payments for employees up to an amount of 1,500 euros this year are tax- and social security-free. The federal government has now ensured that these bonuses, with which companies reward the commitment of their employees in the Corona crisis, will reach the employees without deductions. "We want to reward 100 percent commitment during this period," said Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

+++ Friday, April 3rd+++

The harvest workers concept of the Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer and the Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner provides for a limited entry of seasonal workers under strict conditions. According to this, up to 40,000 harvest workers may come to Germany in April and May each year - provided they arrive by plane and are picked up by the farms at the airport. In addition, the helpers must pass a health check and are separated from the other workers in the first two weeks. The following applies to the accommodation of the foreign seasonal workers: Only half of the accommodation may be occupied. Fruit and vegetable farmers in Germany are to receive additional support from domestic helpers. The idea is that unemployed, students, asylum seekers and short-time workers could help the farms. Thus, about 10,000 additional helpers could be mobilized for April and May each.  

+++ Thursday, April 2nd +++

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 73,522 people in Germany have been proven to be infected with the coronavirus (as of April 2). This is 6,156 more than the day before. The number of deaths rose by 140 to 872. Further data can be found here at the RKI. According to the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA), 938,373 people in 180 countries worldwide have become infected with the coronavirus. 47,273 people have died from the virus (as of April 2). Further figures can be found on the website of Johns Hopkins University.

350,000 tests per week

RKI President Lothar Wieler assumes "that we will see what the trend is by Easter". Currently, about 350,000 people per week in Germany are tested for Covid-19 disease. In a few weeks, he said, resilient figures on the nationwide development can be expected. The RKI estimates that the mortality rate of infected people in Germany will increase. Currently, at 1.2 percent of those infected, it is significantly lower than in the European Union, which has a total of over seven percent.

Many mild cases registered

The still low value in Germany was due to particularly early and many tests, which led to the fact that many mild cases were also registered. The average age of infected persons is currently 49 years. Meanwhile, more cases are also being counted in nursing and old people's homes, said Wieler. "Unfortunately we have to assume that the mortality rate will increase with this." In addition, it should be remembered that there is always a time lag in the reports: "People only die after a certain course of disease," Wieler continued.

+++ Wednesday, April 1 +++

"It would be very bad if we relaxed the contact restrictions too early and had to row back later," explained Chancellor Angela Merkel after a telephone conference with the heads of government of the German states. That is why they had agreed to maintain the current contact restrictions.

Keep your distance - even over the holidays

In a joint resolution, the federal and state governments once again made it clear that the contact restrictions also apply to Easter. Thus it is stated: "Citizens are urged to keep contacts with other people outside the members of their own household to an absolute minimum, even during the Easter holidays, in accordance with the applicable rules". Merkel appealed to citizens to refrain from private travel and visits - including those by relatives.

Renewed assessment of the situation after Easter

On the Tuesday after Easter, the situation will be reassessed in order to decide on how to proceed, the Chancellor explained. The benchmark will be the assessment of the Robert Koch Institute and the epidemiologists.

+++ Tuesday, March 31th +++

There has been a sharp increase in notifications of short-time work. In March, around 470,000 advertisements for short-time work were received by the Federal Employment Agency nationwide. The simplified access to short-time work benefits is part of the federal government's immediate action program.

"Overcoming the Corona crisis will be a historic feat. We are exposed to this crisis - but not at the mercy of it," stressed Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil on Tuesday. "We have one of the strongest welfare states in the world and in good times we have built up reserves for hard times," Heil said. Further information on this topic is available from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

+++ Monday, March 30th +++

One week after the announcement of the extended guidelines for the protection against the coronavirus by the federal and state governments, government spokesperson Steffen Seibert explains: "The interim balance must clearly state: We need all measures undiminished. Therefore, everything must still be done to slow down the coronavirus on its way through Germany. "Let's stick to it! Let's go with it! This is vital in the truest sense of the word", said the government spokesman.

+++

Good hand hygiene, adherence to coughing and sneezing etiquette and keeping your hands away from the virus are the most effective measures to protect against it. But wearing a mouth and nose protector can also be useful when people with acute cold and respiratory diseases are out and about in public places. This is because they can protect others from infection. The recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute point this out. So here it is primarily a matter of protection from others: the risk of infecting another person by coughing or sneezing is reduced.

+++

For the first time, virtual general meetings of stock corporations are possible: The legal regulations on the capacity to act of companies, cooperatives, associations and condominium owners' associations came into force on 28 March 2020 and are valid until the end of 2021.

+++

The way is clear for emergency aid from the federal government. Payments to small businesses, the self-employed, freelancers and farmers are to be made quickly and without red tape. "The budget funds of up to 50 billion euros made available by the Federal Government can be called up by the federal states as of this Monday," said Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. "It is good that the Federal Government and the Länder are working so closely together so that the aid reaches those affected quickly," said Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

+++

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 57,298 people in Germany have been proven to be infected with the coronavirus (as of 8:00 am). That is 4,751 more than the day before. The number of deaths rose by 66 to 455. 723,700 people in 177 countries are infected worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA). 34,018 people have died from the virus (as of 08:50)

+++ Sunday, March 29th +++

Germany supports France in the Corona pandemic. "I have agreed with my counterpart Florence Parly that our Air Force will bring seriously ill COVID19 patients from France to our Bundeswehr hospitals for treatment. Together we are stronger", Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on Twitter.

+++

The federal and state transport ministers want to ensure that truck drivers can eat, shower and go to the toilet at rest areas outside the currently permitted opening hours. The ministers agreed to this in a shift conference. "Right now, truck drivers are the heroes of everyday life. They do a huge job and have to be well looked after", said Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. Should problems arise, the drivers have a free hotline at their disposal: 0800 9 555 777.

+++ Friday, March 27th +++

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 42,288 people in Germany have been proven to be infected with the coronavirus (as of midnight). That is 5,780 more than the day before. The number of deaths has increased by 55 to 253.

+++ Thursday, 26 March +++

EU heads of state and government discussed the current situation of the corona pandemic in a European Council video conference on Thursday. "We are determined to meet this challenge together", Chancellor Merkel stressed. She particularly thanked the Commission for its courageous action.

+++

The heads of state and government of the G20 countries have agreed to take joint action against the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic. Together with international organisations, they want to "take all necessary steps to overcome this pandemic", the G20 declared by video conference after an unscheduled summit.

+++

Federal Minister of Agriculture Klöckner believes that the supply of the most important foodstuffs in Germany is secured. "Basic foodstuffs are produced, processed and offered in sufficient quantities," she explained in a joint press conference with Federal Transport Minister Scheuer. There was no reason to hoard food even during the Corona epidemic, she said.

+++ Wednesday, March 25th +++

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has brought the supplementary budget to the German Bundestag. With 122.5 billion euros, the federal government wants to finance measures to deal with the corona crisis. The supplementary budget is part of the federal government's overall package on the corona pandemic, which it approved in the Bundestag on Wednesday.

+++ Monday, March 23rd +++

The German government has adopted a far-reaching package of measures to mitigate the consequences of the spread of the coronavirus. The Cabinet initiated emergency aid for micro-enterprises and solo self-employed persons. Clinics and practices will be strengthened, and access to short-time work benefits simplified. And the federal government is helping large companies with an economic stabilisation fund. Chancellor Merkel emphasized in an audio podcast that the federal government is doing everything it can to counteract the economic consequences of the corona virus.

+++

The KfW Special Programme 2020 is launched: It supports companies that have temporarily run into financing difficulties due to the corona pandemic. Small, medium-sized and also large enterprises can now submit applications through their main bank. Disbursements will be made as quickly as possible, and the funds for the Special Programme are unlimited. The EU Commission approved the German aid programs yesterday.

+++

Due to the corona crisis, many people currently are unable to work, for example in the catering or retail sectors. At the same time, up to 300,000 workers are missing in agriculture. An online platform is now establishing contact between farmers and citizens in order to place them for planting and harvesting work in agriculture - a joint initiative of the Bundesverband der Maschinenringe e.V. and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

 

+++ Friday, March 20th+++

"It depends on each individual", government spokesman Steffen Seibert appealed to the people. Thanks to the millions of people who comply with the restrictions - out of civic spirit, reason and charity, Seibert stressed. He appealed to everyone else: "Take the situation seriously! It depends on each individual! The Federal Government emphasizes: The fewer people come into contact with each other, the more difficult it is for the virus to spread. It is important that we reduce personal contacts in order to flatten the infection curve. For this purpose, it referred to the campaign #WirBleibenZuhause.

+++ Wednesday, March 18th +++

Chancellor Merkel addresses the citizens of Germany in a speech. "It is serious. Since German reunification, no, since the Second World War, there has not been a challenge to our country that depends so much on our joint solidarity," the Chancellor emphasized.

+++

From March 20 to 22, 2020, various social organisations are organising a hackathon on the initiative of tech4Germany together with the German government. The aim is to master the challenges arising from the corona crisis together with new solutions. Until Friday morning, all citizens and ministries can submit their "challenges" and problems for which they would like to have a solution. These will then be worked on virtually in groups during the hackathon.

+++

To ensure that holiday planes may continue to land and German travellers may return, the Federal Ministry of Transport and the federal states have agreed maximum flexibility for exceptions to the ban on night flights. Deutsche Bahn supports the Federal Government in the repatriation of travellers from abroad. Airline boarding passes serve as train tickets for onward travel to the actual destination airport in the home country. If the return flight does not make it to the set destination, DB will provide free transportation within Germany. "We want german tourists to return home quickly and safely", said Federal Transport Minister Scheuer.

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The German government has provided up to 50 million euros to enable German travellers stranded abroad to return to Germany in the next few days. The Federal Foreign Office is providing information on the repatriation operations and also on the subject of worldwide travel warnings in the form of an FAQ.

+++ Tuesday, March 17th +++