February 2022: 6 changes affecting expats in Germany
From COVID certificates’ validity shortening, to extra security for online shopping, there’s plenty going on as Germany heads into February 2022. Here are six changes expats need to know about.
1. COVID certificates only valid for nine months without a booster
Up until now, anyone with a full primary course of a vaccine against coronavirus has been considered “fully vaccinated” for 12 months. From February 1, however, the rules will change, and vaccination certificates issued in the European Union will only be valid for nine months (270 days) before a booster shot is required.
The EU decided this at the end of December 2021, in a bid to ensure smoother and more consistent travel rules across the bloc. How long a vaccination certificate with a booster shot will be valid for is not yet clear. The expiry date of 12 months which is currently displayed in the Corona-Warn-App or CovPass for boosted people has no legal standing.
2. First Novavax shots to be administered in Germany
There will soon be another coronavirus vaccine available in Germany. According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the vaccine Nuvaxovid from Novavax will start being administered from the third week of February, and is the fifth to become available after the BioNTech / Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca jabs. The first delivery of 1,75 million doses should be available from February 21.
It is hoped that the Novavax might convince some vaccine-sceptics in Germany, since it is a protein-based vaccine and thus considered a “classical vaccine method."
3. Pharmacies to start offering COVID vaccines
After many months of anticipation, pharmacies in Germany are due to start administering coronavirus vaccines from February 8. According to Gabriele Regina Overwienig, president of the German Pharmacists’ Association, staff have undergone the necessary training and the technical infrastructure has been set up to enable pharmacies to pass on details of vaccinations to the Robert Koch Institute. Pharmacies will be remunerated for each jab they administer.
4. New Federal President elected
A new German Federal President will be elected on February 13. Incumbent Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been nominated by the SPD, while the Left’s candidate is a doctor named Gerhard Trabert. The ultra-conservative Max Otte has been nominated by the AfD.
A largely ceremonial role, the German president holds a term of office for five years and can only be re-elected once. They are chosen by the so-called Federal Assembly, which is composed of all members of the Bundestag and selected candidates from the state parliaments.
5. Extra security steps for online shopping
Security processes on online shopping across Europe are being stepped up in February. Since January 2021, consumers buying goods over the value of 250 euros have faced strong customer authentication (SCA) for payments, meaning they have to confirm payments via the internet with a TAN code, password or facial recognition on their mobile phone. From February 15, 2022, these rules will apply to amounts of 150 euros and over.
6. Changes to energy efficiency building standards
From February 1, Germany is also toughening up its eligibility criteria for grants and loans from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). In future, building projects will have to adhere to the KfW 40 energy efficiency standard to qualify for the scheme, where previously the KfW 55 standard would have sufficed. The figure looks at things like the home’s consumption of energy and its carbon dioxide emissions.