To: 03/08/2022 19:29
A patchwork of rules threatens again, especially with regard to the obligation to wear a mask. Traffic Light likely also refrained from closing schools and closures because acceptance continued to decline.
Why are new measures needed?
For autumn and winter, the federal government expects a seasonal increase in Covid 19 cases. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach predicts that the BA.5 variant is likely to be dominant. He expects “lots of cases”, but not all of them will be as deadly as the Delta cases.
Nevertheless, the feared development risks pushing healthcare and other important care facilities to their limits – whether due to sick staff or high numbers of sick people. Since the Infection Protection Act expires on September 23, a new legal basis for combating the pandemic is needed.
How is Germany starting this Corona winter?
Germany should be better prepared for the upcoming Corona winter than in previous years. From the federal government’s perspective, things are already on the right track. The Infection Protection Bill has been tabled. It must be decided by the cabinet in August. After that, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat still have to agree.
In addition, Lauterbach has promised the approval of vaccines adapted to the new viral variants for the beginning of September. In addition, Paxlovid is a drug that significantly reduces mortality.
What is the heart of the planned measures?
Lauterbach and Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann have agreed on measures which can be used to contain the corona virus, but which do not paralyze society at the same time. Closures and curfews should be avoided, as should school closures. There should not have been a way around this, because the acceptance of these measures by the population is less and less good.
Ministers rely on a tiered system for rules, depending on the infection process. It seems plausible. Stricter regulations are only needed if the situation deteriorates.
The focus is on measures to protect the elderly and other vulnerable groups from infection. In hospitals and care facilities as well as for employees of care services, a mask and a test certificate must apply. It also makes sense, as it is often these groups that have been infected with the virus. It also seems logical that hospitals should be placed under special protection. The pandemic has shown the importance of these facilities.
Is there a patchwork of regulations?
It seems more complicated with regard to the obligation to wear a mask in public transport. The rules prescribed by the federal government should only apply to long-distance and air traffic, but not to local public transport. This does not seem very plausible, since the virus does not differentiate between long-distance transport and local transport. Here, the federal government delegates responsibility to the federal states. They should also be able to impose a mask obligation for public transport.
The same applies to the obligation to wear a mask for interiors accessible to the public, cultural and leisure facilities and schools. It should also be up to the federal states if there is a specific danger to health and care facilities and if the measures need to be strengthened. There is a threat of a patchwork quilt that is difficult to understand.
Exceptions to mask requirement raise questions
The federal rules on the obligation to wear a mask provide exceptions. They should apply to those whose last vaccination or recovery dates back less than three months.
The same exemption should apply to mask regulations for restaurants, bars, cultural and recreational facilities to be decided by federal states. But it is still unclear who should control this. It is to be feared that in practice many do not respect the rules. A mess seems inevitable.
Increased unity in the coalition
Strict rules or a more relaxed approach? In recent weeks, there has been talk of a bitter struggle between Lauterbach and Buschmann. Both presented the bill in a videoconference – Lauterbach, who is refraining from planning holidays due to the fight against the pandemic, from Berlin, Buschmann from the holiday home.
Observers wonder if the spatial separation could also be due to atmospheric disturbances. During the switch conference, Buschmann made it clear that the negotiations on the package of measures were being conducted “in a collegial, low-key and result-oriented manner”.