Düsseldorf The incidence rate of corona is rising fast. Many large companies in North Rhine-Westphalia are therefore considering their own measures. These include areas with access according to the 2G rule. Home office should be a permanent option.
Four of the largest companies in North Rhine-Westphalia are planning to offer vaccinated colleagues and those recovering from Corona their own canteens or corresponding areas in the cafeterias: Alltours, Bayer, Eon and Ergo. Employees would then be allowed to sit together in a completely informal setting, while those who have not been vaccinated or do not provide information about their vaccination status would continue to have to live with distance rules, masks or partitions. This was the result of a survey conducted by our editorial team among twelve companies in NRW on their anti-corona strategy. The nationwide seven-day incidence, i.e. the number of weekly infections per 100,000 inhabitants, rose to 149.4 on Sunday - almost 50% more than a week ago.
The number of companies with extra canteens with 2G access could still increase. There are currently many changes in the specifications of the federal states, said a spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom, for example: "We are checking what works and what doesn't." Currently, there is no special status for vaccinated or recovered people, said Vodafone in Düsseldorf, but they are checking "depending on the virus development, whether we have to adapt our protection concept in the future".
RWE introduced a 3G rule in the entire company headquarters in Essen a week ago. Vaccinated and recovered people can therefore come into the office unhindered, the others have to get tested. "This is running smoothly," said a spokeswoman. "Of course" there is the possibility to be tested on site free of charge and also the possibility to work from home.
In the process, the company, run by former management consultant Markus Krebber, would welcome it if politicians introduced a legal framework for a 3G rule at the workplace. Actually, no company is allowed to introduce compulsory vaccination or to pressurise employees to provide information about their vaccination status - but at Alltours, Bayer, Eon and Ergo, this is already indicated by who uses the 2G canteen areas.
Bayer employees can ask each other about their vaccination status
At Bayer, they go even further: so that vaccinated colleagues can work there without restrictions, they are allowed to ask each other about their vaccination status as a team. Bayer explains: "Self-organised groups, for example in multi-person or open-plan offices, in laboratories or sub-areas of production, can work together or hold work meetings in presence under voluntary application of the 2G rule without distance and mask."
The companies surveyed continue to rely heavily on the home office - as protection against infection, but also to relieve commuters. At Henkel, for example, it has been agreed that 40 per cent of working time may be spent away from the company premises on a permanent basis. In order to comply with the distance regulations in the offices, Vodafone and Eon are relying on a digital reservation system to allocate workplaces.
Although the potential coalition parties have announced that the "epidemic emergency of national scope" is to end on 24 November, the business community remains very cautious. One already has a higher level of protection than officially specified, Alltours explained. It will stay that way - including the offer of tests, although about 90 per cent of the employees have been vaccinated. RWE announced that it would continue to offer vaccinations internally. At the German branch of the cosmetics company L'Oréal in Düsseldorf, head of security Marcus Born said: "We will maintain our hygiene concepts beyond 24 November." This includes the request to stay home immediately if flu symptoms appear and to refrain from shaking hands.
Original text: Reinhard Kowalewsky
Translation: Mareike Graepel