Germany plans return to work from home as coronavirus infections rise

The reintroduction of the rule comes as Germany faces a growing fourth wave of the virus. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

FRANKFURT (AFP) - Germany is preparing a return to working from home under draft legislation seen by AFP on Sunday (Nov 14), as the country tries to tackle an unprecedented wave of coronavirus cases.

The reintroduction of the rule, which was lifted at the beginning of July, comes as Germany faces a growing fourth wave of the virus.

Infections and deaths have been climbing steeply since mid-October, in an outbreak blamed on Germany's vaccination rate of just over 67 per cent - still leaving a large share of people more vulnerable to infection and severe disease.

At 289 cases per 100,000 people, the recorded incidence of the coronavirus reached a new high in Europe's most populous country on Sunday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) health agency.

"The coming wave will overshadow all the previous waves," Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer, whose region is currently amongst the worst hit, told German weekly Bild am Sonntag.

Under the draft plan, employers in Germany would be forced to offer the option to work from home in the absence of a "compelling business reason" to come to the office.

Anyone going into work would also be asked to show they were protected against the virus or had tested negative.

The German government is also working up plans to limit access to certain events to those who have both been vaccinated or recovered from a coronavirus infection, and can present a negative test, according to reports in the German media.

The new package of measures is being drafted in close consultation with the parties seeking to form the next German government, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the liberal FDP.

Their joint legislation will be presented to the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, for approval on Thursday, before being signed off by the upper house on Friday.

The German government and regional leaders also come together virtually on Thursday to coordinate their response.

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