After weeks of negotiations, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann have agreed on a new catalogue of anti-Corona measures for the upcoming cold season. Lockdowns are not part of it.
Berlin, August 4th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — On September 23rd, 2022, part of Germany’s Infection Protection Act expires. It is the section that deals with measures against the dangerous Coronavirus which has been spreading across the world since early 2020. The Berlin Bundestag is supposed to pass an amended version of the law after the summer break in early September. It gives the federal government and the sixteen federal states some options.
The outcome of the talks between Lauterbach, a Social Democrat (SPD) and Buschmann, a Free Democrat (FDP) neither is sensational nor is it a surprise. It includes mandatory mask rules in public long-distance transport as well as in hospitals and care facilities. At the latter locations, a compulsory Corona test rule is supposed to apply too, but persons who were just vaccinated, those who just recovered from COVID-19 and patients will be exempt.
When the Corona infection numbers explode, Germany’s federal states can take additional measures. They will have the right to put in place a mandatory mask rule in public buildings, cultural venues, sports facilities and restaurants. In more serious situations, masks can become mandatory at schools, but only from 5th to 13th grade. School closures are not part of the plans.
If an overburdening of the health system is imminent and the critical infrastructure is about to give up, the governments in the sixteen states can impose strictrer rules, including a compulsory mask rule at more locations and even outdoors, in areas in which distance cannot be kept. The number of participants or audiences at big events can be limited. In very serious situation, there are not supposed to be exceptions for vaccinated or recovered persons anymore.
While Lauterbach said a “very difficult fall” might be coming, Buschmann stated people’s freedom could only be restricted if necessary. This was why lockdowns and curfews were not part of the draft. He stressed it was unclear whether the measures listed would be put in place. This depended on the situation and on the question whether Germany’s federal states would decide to enact them.
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The reactions are mixed. Some believe the new approach does not go far enough. To the opinion of others, it goes too far. Since early 2020, Minister Lauterbach has been among those who favor a careful Corona policy. The FDP, one of the SPD’s coalition partners, does not like anti-Corona measures.