Germany: New corona rules from autumn
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) presented their plans to change the infection protection law. These are rules aimed at a more successful fight against the coronavirus in the upcoming autumn and winter months.
The federal government plans to introduce a rule of mandatory use of FFP2 type protective masks in air transport and for users of railway services on lines connecting major cities in the country. Until now, ordinary medical masks were sufficient.
The obligation to use masks would also apply in hospitals and institutions for the care of patients or the elderly, and in addition, access to these locations would only be allowed after a (negative) test. The federal states should decide for themselves whether to introduce the obligation to use masks in, for example, public transport, in public institutions or in schools – and from the fifth grade. If the corona situation worsens during the winter, according to these plans, there is a possibility of introducing additional restrictions or limiting the number of people who are allowed to gather in one place.
No school closures
The goal of the federal government is to “get through” the next pandemic corona-winter without a new lockdown and a ban on citizens going out into the streets. “Instead, we focus on measures that are both effective and acceptable,” says Buschmann. “We no longer consider closing schools to be an appropriate move.”
Lauterbach added that during the winter he expects a “relatively difficult condition” due to the highly contagious variant of the coronavirus. “It seems relatively certain that we will have to fight with one omicron mutation during the fall,” emphasized the Minister of Health. “We’ll have a lot of cases, but they won’t be as deadly as the delta variant.”
The measures are valid until spring 2023.
The plan envisages the gradual introduction of measures, depending on the situation in the country. Under the name “winter tires” are measures that will be valid from October 1 this year until April 7, 2023 – regardless of the incidence. This group of measures includes the use of FFP2 masks in air traffic, in high-speed trains, or mandatory testing before entering hospitals and similar institutions – unless someone was vaccinated or got over the corona virus more than three months ago.
In the event of a worsening of the situation, new measures come into force, Germany puts on “winter chains” so to speak. Federal states can introduce the obligation to use FFP2 masks in public institutions, i.e. in restaurants, cultural institutions or where people gather during their free time. The prerequisite for the introduction of these measures is the decision of the competent parliament.
The new rules should be adopted by the Bundestag at the beginning of September. The Bundesrat (Upper House) should vote on them on September 16, so that the new rules come into force before the current ones expire. For now, it is not clear whether the federal states will support the government’s concept. It can be heard from the federal government that so far there are no objections to the planned package.
Lauterbach said that he expects four new vaccines soon, they could receive the “green light” from the competent regulator on September 9 at the earliest. New vaccines should more effectively protect the elderly from infection with the virus, and not only from more severe forms of the disease. And there is Paxlovid, a drug that significantly reduces the death rate from the coronavirus. “Overall, we are in a much better situation now than last fall,” says Lauterbach.
The Greens claim that it is a compromise that is the basis of good preparation for autumn and winter. The procedure that envisages the gradual introduction of measures provides legal certainty, and offers the federal states the opportunity to react appropriately to the development of the situation, and in addition takes into account fundamental freedoms, Maria Klein-Schmeink and Konstantin von Notz commented on behalf of the Green Party representatives’ club in the Bundestag. .
The first positive reaction to the government’s measures is coming from the economy. Trade and the hotel industry will no longer be affected by flat-rate and harsh measures, announced the ZIA Association, which brings together companies dealing with real estate. And he adds: “It will save tens of thousands of jobs and countless companies in Germany.”