The "epidemic situation of national significance" established by the Bundestag expires on Nov. 25, 2021. Instead of extending this, the traffic light parties (SPD/Greens/FDP) have agreed on a catalog of measures that should regulate the further course of action with regard to the fourth wave of Covid 19 infection in Germany. Most of the regulations, such as the mask requirement, distance clauses and most hygiene concepts in public areas, remain largely unchanged. However, there are also regulations that have been completely eliminated and others that have been newly added. The goal of this new change is to avoid a new national lockdown. The tightening of Corona rules in the workplace and on public transport is intended to contain the risk of a further escalation of the pandemic.
Local and long-distance traffic
According to the provision in § 28b Abs.5 IfSG, only persons who meet the 3G requirements may use public transport. The 3G rule includes fully vaccinated, recovered or tested persons, whereby only a negative antigen rapid test, which is not older than 24 hours, is permitted as a test. Legislation provides for fines similar to those for fare evasion if no proof can be provided. However, the question of the personnel and material capacities that would be required for more extensive controls is completely unresolved.
3G at the office
Probably the most extensive and for employees most serious change took place in § 28b para. 1. Here, for the first time, the legislator formulates a ban on access to the workplace if employees or employers are unable to provide proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a daily updated antigen test. This "3G rule in the workplace" still does not grant employers the right to inquire about employees' vaccination status in any case, but it now requires employees to at least take a COVID-19 test should they not wish to disclose their vaccination or convalescent status. This rule only applies if contact with others cannot be ruled out at work.
Furthermore, this amendment not only obliges employees and employers to provide proof, but also the employer to check the 3G proof provided. This will cause problems in workplaces with a high number of employees. It is ultimately up to the employers to organize the control of the tests, the verification of the vaccination or convalescent proofs and the communication between the controlling workers. Companies that lack the capacity for such checks face serious complications. In addition, according to the will of the legislator, the control of the proof has to take place outside the workplace, which, besides a lack of personnel, can also result in a lack of space.
Exceptions to this rule are allowed by the legislator only in § 28b para.1 sentences 1 and 2, according to which the employee is entitled to enter the workplace before checking a valid proof, if he takes either a test or a vaccination offer by the employer.
Home office duty
The new Infection Protection Act now includes an actual home office obligation for the first time. This applies to all employees with "office work or comparable activities". Employers are obliged to offer the option of working from home, provided there are no compelling operational reasons for not doing so. These could be data protection restrictions or a lack of technical equipment, for example. Employees are equally encouraged to accept this offer, provided "there are no reasons on their part to the contrary." However, the legislator does not specify further what such reasons might be, which will probably be open to interpretation by the courts in the future. In fact, expanded home office work could significantly alleviate the implementation pressures on employers described above. However, the effectiveness of these regulations remains to be seen.