Berlin Senate restricts mandatory testing

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 14th Apr, 2021

Two weeks after the mandatory testing of staff with customer or guest contact came into force, the Senate has largely withdrawn it. The new version of the Corona ordinance from Tuesday initially reads as if the obligation was extended. In addition to customers, it now includes contacts with "other third parties". Explicitly included are also "private and public workplaces, including the judiciary," according to the ordinance, which goes into effect on Sunday.

But there is one crucial hurdle: The requirement to test twice a week now only applies to "physical contact." Employers, however, are still required to offer testing to their employees.

A spokesman for the health administration confirmed on request that the testing obligation now only applies to activities close to the body, such as hairdressing. The Senate is thus deviating from its previous credo that testing is the order of the day. In practice, most of the cases that were previously subject to compulsory testing are now no longer covered: above all, sales staff in the retail trade and in restaurants, but also employees in public authorities, who were not exempt under the wording of the previous ordinance.

In citizens' offices and job centers, employees would therefore only have to be tested if they also cut the hair of customers and clients. However, judicial officers who bring a prisoner to court, for example, are subject to the testing requirement.

The spokesman justified the considerable restriction by saying that it was primarily a matter of distance and hygiene rules and that the testing obligation for staff was concentrated on particularly critical contacts. The wording for self-employed persons and their employees remains vague.

Conflicting statements from Senate offices
Until the new regulation, there were contradictory statements from the Senate on the question of who exactly is covered by the testing obligation. While the health administration stated that the obligation also applied to the public administration, the economic and educational administration assured that it only applied to trade, commerce and gastronomy.

This, however, was neither literally nor analogously stated in the ordinance: The testing obligation is regulated independently of industries and professions - trade and gastronomy are dealt with in a completely different place. So the question was also: Does the state consider itself bound by its own rules?

Actually, the red-red-green coalition has made testing its top priority. But the administrations undertook astonishing contortions to ensure that the testing obligation was not interpreted too broadly. "The wording of the terms 'customers' and 'guests' used in the ordinance is intended to refer to facilities that have a constant change of people who use this business in areas of commerce or the hospitality industry," the education administration wrote to providers of family work, for example, and exempted youth welfare services from the obligation, even though changing contacts occur there in many areas.

Photo by JC Gellidon


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