The German nationwide emergency brake implemented to help contain the coronavirus spread expired on June 30, 2021, and slowly some normality seems to return to our private and working lives. Due to the sharp drop in incidence rates and the progress of the vaccination campaign, it was time for further relaxations of the restrictions.
The German Government therefore issued a new Occupational Health and Safety Regulation on June 25, 2021, which already came into force on July 1, 2021. This regulation will remain in force until the German Government lifts the current status of the epidemic situation of national significance, but at the latest until and including September 10, 2021.
The obligation to work from home was not extended and thus ended on June 30, 2021. In addition, the specified minimum area of 10 square meters for each person located in a room was removed.
However, to avoid another wave of infection, rules to reduce the risk of infection continue to apply:
- Company hygiene plans must still be drawn up, implemented and made accessible in the company in a suitable manner.
- Where adequate protection is not possible through technical and organizational measures (e.g. when leaving the workplace, during meetings with colleagues), employees must wear medical face masks, which must be provided by the employer. The mask obligation also applies to fully vaccinated or recovered employees.
- Personal contacts due to operational reasons are to be reduced as much as possible. The same applies to the simultaneous use of rooms by several employees. It is recommended that team meetings continue to be held virtually.
- The German Government has also retained the employer’s obligation to offer two Corona tests a week to employees working from the company premises. The obligation to offer tests also applies to those employees who have been fully vaccinated and those who have recovered from an infection.
- The Employer shall retain all evidence of the procurement of the rapid tests or agreements with third parties for the testing of employees up to and including September 10, 2021.
Individual federal states may continue to enact federal state-specific pandemic response measures.
Bremen (German version), for example, has introduced an obligation for employees to accept the Corona test offer in addition to the Corona test offer obligation for employers. Fully vaccinated or recovered employees are exempt from the testing obligation.
In Hamburg, the obligation to wear a medical face mask applies throughout the company. Enclosed rooms that are only used by one person are exempt. Provided that a suitable technical device is available that reduces the spread of droplets through coughing, sneezing or speaking with equal effectiveness, a medical face mask also does not have to be worn. In Hamburg, fully vaccinated or recovered employees are exempt from the testing requirement.
The current Corona regulations of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria (German version), Berlin, Brandenburg (German version), Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia (German version) do not contain any regulations that deviate from federal law. From July 3, 2021, wearing a medical face mask will also be sufficient in Berlin.
As always, we will keep you informed on any new developments.
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