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Coronavirus: Journalists, press passes & special rights*
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Journalists (including bloggers and vloggers), press photographers, (on-line) editors and reporters have particular responsibilities during the coronavirus period. They should report issues in a factual and objective manner, informing the public about all the aspects and developments of the coronavirus crisis (e.g., preventive measures, new information, emergency plans). At the moment, not all countries recognise journalists as a professional group of systemic importance; yet during crises, it is vital that the press should carry out their work unimpeded.

GNS Press
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Authorities should be prepared to support representatives of the press. After all, journalists and press photographers have to investigate local issues and gain a picture of the situation, even where lockdown measures and limitations on leaving home are in place. Exhaustive press coverage can be guaranteed only if unlimited freedom of movement is granted.


Special entitlements: Are journalists subject to lockdown restrictions?
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In the context of practising their profession, lockdown restrictions are counter-productive. Journalists benefit indirectly from greater freedom of movement since investigations, taking press photographs, interviewing people or simply sounding out the situation are a basic necessity at all times and everywhere. The need for unrestricted reporting still applies during Covid-19.

GNS members can obtain separate Covid-19 authentication, allowing them to compile press reports on the subject of the coronavirus crisis. The authentication can be presented on request as evidence of journalistic activity. The authentication should be understood as a kind of press permit so that journalists can present additional documentation to public officials, for example, in respect of their professional activity.


Are local investigations and photography (press photographs) allowed?
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There is no ban on practising one's profession for press photographers, reporters or journalists during the crisis. But bear in mind: the person being photographed (or the interviewee) may be under self-isolation. In such circumstances, decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis and both parties would be acting in a professional capacity. Use the digital press pass with QR code, which allows for automatic on-line authentication. To support their activity, GNS members may in certain circumstances also receive editorial authentication.


Can journalists by-pass country-specific regulations?
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Country-specific regulations relating to protection against the coronavirus should not be ‘evaded’, nor would this be productive. The exercise of one’s profession as a journalist or reporter is not forbidden or restricted during the crisis: in the end, representatives of the press must record current events. Tip: Use the digital press pass with QR code, which enables the downloading of automatic on-line authentication. The following activities are part of professional practice, each with respect to certain circumstances:
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 • Meeting interviewees on the ground
 • Local investigations
 • Exploring and observing locally
 • Taking press photographs
 • Obtain background information
• Local interviews (p.e. with public officials)
• Neighbourhood surveys
• Preparing press reports in the locality
• Conversing with colleagues in the locality
• Taking local weather photography


In the event of police or authority checks: show a valid reason
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It is not necessary to present a special permit for journalistic activity. Journalists, reporters, press photographers and cameramen/women are of course permitted to carry out their professional activity without restrictions. Reportage is a valid reason and thus is exempt from lockdown restrictions in most cases. If public officials express doubts as to professional activity, journalists must be able to make a plausible case for their presence in a locality. ‘Authorities’ German’: In the event of a check, the person being monitored shall provide duly substantiated grounds.

Representatives of the press may practice their profession at any time – as can other professionals. It is a condition however that journalistic activity should be presented to authorised third parties clearly, unambiguously and plausibly - that is, credibly. Journalists must be prepared and carry certification (e.g. authentication from the editorial office, press accreditation, press pass, editorial pass, etc.). Journalists may move freely and are not obliged to obtain permits from the (competent) authorities in order to perform their work. Tip: Use the digital press pass with QR code, which enables the downloading of an automatic on-line confirmation.



Crossing country borders with a press pass?
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France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Luxembourg: contrary to the current general guidelines on refusal of entry, journalists may still cross borders for the purpose of doing their work (similar to professional commuters with a commuter credentials, who qualify as an exception). On request, professional reasons must be credibly presented, and in this situation, the press pass may no longer be enough on its own. However, there is no ban on practising journalistic activity; entry should still be possible where valid reasons exist. For such purposes, GNS members may also receive editorial authentication in certain circumstances. Tip: Use the digital press pass with QR code, which enables the downloading of automatic on-line authentication.

However there is no guarantee that a border crossing will be permitted. This means that cases will be judged individually: decisions will depend on authentication of reasons (e.g., essential practice of one's profession). During the crisis, administrative guidelines can however change fairly quickly.



*Special note: Information is general and relates to the situation as at April 2020 in respect of German regulations. There are no uniform provisions across Europe. Depending on country, region or district there may be different arrangements in place that relate to type, scope and actual undertaking of journalistic activity. Restrictions on journalistic activity are possible.




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