Many saw the asparagus in danger: due to the Corona pandemic, the borders are tight and the urgently needed harvest workers are no longer allowed to enter. A large number of the farmers affected fear that they will be forced to close down as a result and fear for their financial existence. Politicians are now responding to the cries for help from the economy.

Entry yes – but health still comes first

Harvest workers, especially from Eastern Europe, are now allowed to enter the country and help the farmers with the harvest. However, farmers must still comply with hygiene and safety measures on their farms. They are also obliged to ensure that workers consistently follow the rules of distance and hygiene.

Entry with obstacles

Despite the possibility of entry, it is to be expected that increased checks on harvesters will take place. Delays may therefore continue to occur. In the meantime, farmers can only receive additional support from helpers who are already in Germany.

Refugees and asylum seekers

According to the current situation, not only those asylum seekers and refugees whose status is recognised may be employed in agriculture. Asylum seekers in the asylum process and tolerated persons who are currently unable to perform their previous work due to the corona pandemic or who have no job can now also be quickly deployed in agriculture for the current season. Minister Thomas Strobl explained that the legal basis for this exists.

The federal ministers are also proceeding in this way. On April 2, 2020, Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner presented her concept, which provides for exceptions to the current entry restrictions for seasonal workers. The aim is to reconcile the currently necessary strict infection protection requirements with the needs of agriculture (see here).

Controls and measures to protect health

Strict entry rules apply to protect the population from further infections by the corona virus despite the relaxation of the entry ban. For example, seasonal workers must meet or pass the following hygiene standards:

  •  Foreign seasonal workers are to enter and leave the country exclusively by air.
  •  On entry, a health check arranged by the employers is carried out by medical personnel according to a standardised procedure.
  •  New arrivals must live and work strictly separated from other employees for the first 14 days and may not leave the company premises (de facto quarantine).
  •  During the work, minimum distances must be observed and face masks and gloves must be worn.
  •  With the exception of families, rooms must be occupied at half capacity.
  •  If there is a reasonable suspicion of an employee being infected with the corona virus, the employee must be isolated immediately and a doctor must be contacted so that the employee can be tested for the virus. In addition, the entire team should be isolated and also tested for the virus.

This imposes many obligations on the farmers, which they must ensure are observed. However, if they meet the above-mentioned requirements, they may start immediately with the support of the seasonal workers and harvest workers. We would be pleased to advise and assist you in the legal implementation of the requirements and the organisation of your farm.

Of course, we will also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the requirements for entry and support you in legal problems.

Time of the information: April 4, 2020