On March 15, the Minister of Interior announced that, starting March 16, Germany will close its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland (See Here). These travel restrictions should not create any impacts for facilities.
Additionally, on March 17, the Minister of Interior ordered far-reaching entry restrictions at the German Schengen external borders to further contain the risks of infection from COVID-19 that apply to international air and sea transport for travel connections that have their origin outside the European Union. The regulation is based on Article 14, in conjunction with Article 6, of the Schengen Borders Code, and applies immediately, initially for 30 days. (See Here). These travel restrictions should not create any impacts for facilities.
Initially, when the spread of COVID-19 increased in Germany, citizens were urged to cancel of all public and private major events with more than 1,000 expected participants, as well as to travel less if possible, to work from home and to avoid public transport, in order to slow the spread of the virus (See Update from Monday March 9) and (See Here). Employers or facility operators can take into account these recommendations when deciding whether or not their employees should work from home.
Since then, the federal government and the heads of government of the federal states have come together and agreed on guidelines to adopt a uniform approach to restrict social contacts in the public sphere in view of the COVID-19 epidemic in Germany (See Here).
These guidelines have been expanded several times and made more strict since then, with the most recent changes to the guidelines being made on March 22 (See Here) and (See Here). These measures still do not restrict individuals from travelling to work.
The Federal Government has published information on the current restrictions on public life which are to stay in effect until April 19, unless the restrictions are to be extended (See Here). Information on these restrictions, including travel restrictions, has also been published (See Here).
The Federal Government is proposing stricter entry requirements into Germany, in order to further slow the spread of the Coronavirus. If the states approve the decision, the new rules could enter into force on April 10 (See Here).
Additionally, the Federal Government has published information for helping companies and the self-employed financially through the provision with a number of economic measures for financial assistance (See Here).
There is no legal entitlement to work from home in Germany. However, employees can come to an agreement on this with their employer by means of a company agreement or a collective agreement. Additionally, since there is no general right of the employee to stay away from work in the event of an outbreak such as COVID-19, a right to refuse performance of work may exist if the employee cannot reasonably be expected to perform his work (Section 275(3) of the Civil Code). For example, it is unacceptable to work if the work represents a significant objective danger for the person concerned or at least a serious, objectively justified suspicion of danger to body or health. (See Here).
With regards to overtime work, employees should only work overtime if this has been agreed upon by all parties by means of a collective agreement, a company agreement or an employment contract. However, there could also be an ancillary obligation to work overtime if the overtime work is required to prevent damages that otherwise threaten the employer and that cannot be avoided in any other way. This could also be the case if, for example, diseases such COVID-19 lead to significant staff shortages (See Here).
The Federal Government has issued information for workers on the COVID-19 crisis.
Furthermore, the European Center for Disease Prevention has published a guidance on Social Distancing measures that all individuals are encouraged to implement in their daily lives. Some of those recommendations may apply to businesses in respect of, for example, restriction of mass gatherings, and staying at home measures (See Here).
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) provides information on occupational safety measures when dealing with COVID-19 (See Here).
The Federal and State Governments have started to re-open public life with some restrictions (See Here).
Additionally, facilities should review and consider implementing occupational protection standards to protect employees from COVID-19. These standards have been recommended by the Federal Government (See Here). Additonal information on these safety standards can be found here.
Employers should continue to check with relevant authorities for the latest information:
-Ministry of Health COVID-19 FAQ (https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/en/press/2020/coronavirus.html)
-Ministry of Health COVID-19 daily updates (https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/en/coronavirus.html)
-Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs COVID-19 labor law information (https://www.bmas.de/DE/Schwerpunkte/Informationen-Corona/informationen-corona.html)
-The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) (https://www.baua.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsgestaltung-im-Betrieb/Biostoffe/Coronavirus.html)
-The Federal Government (https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de)
-Ministry of Interior (https://www.bmi.bund.de/DE/startseite/startseite-node.html)
-European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china)
-European Commission Coronavirus response (https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response_en)