The on-site services we’re accustomed to offering at public offices around Germany have changed for the foreseeable future. Read on to find out what it looks like to take a translator to an appointment with you during the Corona pandemic.
Maybe you’ve received a letter from the foreigner’s office (Landesamt für Einwanderung) asking you to attend an appointment or you begged for an emergency appointment at a Bürgeramt to change your address and got someone sympathetic on the line. These appointments are like gold – treat them with respect and be as prepared as possible when you show up. If you decide to take an interpreter with you, here’s how it will work in post-COVID times.
Your interpreter will observe the following precautions
- We used to meet you 10 minutes before your appointment. We now meet you 15 minutes beforehand to allow for security checks, doormen and/or temperature checks.
- We will always bring a mask with us and wear it whenever instructed, but we’ll take it off to work for you if permissible, because interpreting is really challenging for everyone when you’re wearing a mask.
- We used to shake your hand and give you a business card. We won’t do that anymore. You’ll still get a smile and a wave though.
- We will keep 1.5-2 metres away from you and your caseworker at all times, as long as this is physically possible. This means we might remain standing even though you sit down.
In return, we ask that you:
- Allow plenty of time for unexpected circumstances e.g. maybe there’s a security guard checking temperatures at the door and it takes an extra 10 minutes to even get into the building
- Don’t hand us your mobile phone to hold or speak on, on your behalf – if you want help making a phone call, we will find a quiet area, keep your phone 2 metres away and put it on loudspeaker
- Observe all the usual precautions, but there’s no need to repeat them here.
- Cut us some slack and know that we’ll probably be confounded with strange situations, and we’ll navigate through them as best we can. This means whatever you were told by a public official last week might no longer be valid today.
So far, it’s all been working surprisingly well. If a public office has booked a phone appointment with you, read this.
Good luck at your appointments!