Germany economy to return to pre-pandemic levels ‘by 2022 at the latest’

The German government is set to upgrade its growth forecast for this year as industry holds up well to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Saturday.

Germany economy to return to pre-pandemic levels 'by 2022 at the latest'
Testing staff of non-profit organisation Albatros receive people for a coronavirus (Covid-19) test before Friday prayer at the 'Haus der Weisheit' (House of Wisdom) Mosque in Berlin's Moabit district on April 23, 2021. (Photo by Tobias Schwarz / AFP)

“In January, we forecast growth of 3.0 percent. Current data show that it will even be slightly higher,” Altmaier said in an interview with the Funkemedia group, speaking ahead of the ministry’s gross domestic product forecasts scheduled for Tuesday.
Europe’s biggest economy shrank by 4.9 percent in 2020 as restrictions to curb the pandemic hit many sectors.

“There are reasons to be optimistic,” Altmaier said, pointing to better-than-expected data as industry benefits from the global recovery.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged that the anti-Covid restrictions – which are being tightened in Germany from this weekend in an attempt to rein in a ferocious third wave of infections – have hit sectors such as retail, gastronomy and hotels particularly hard.

READ ALSO: Germany makes new prediction for jobs and economy in 2021

The German economy will return to pre-pandemic levels “by 2022 at the latest,” Altmaier said.

Last week, Germany’s leading think-tanks similarly warned that the current wave of the pandemic would put the brakes on economic recovery, but they were pencilling in growth of as much as 3.7 percent this year.

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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.