Karl Lauterbach doesn’t want it, but it seems that the Federal Minister of Health has left the “Precautionary Team” of all things in a phase where the number of new coronavirus infections is higher than ever. There are cases of corona up to the management level of the chancellery, and the head of the chancellery Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD) has also detected this. In these critical days of war, of all times, you have to work from home.
On Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a record 262,752 new infections. A constant in the pandemic is the call to open up when things seem to be looking up.
March 20 is approaching, the day that the FDP, in the person of its current Minister of Justice, Marco Buschmann, had already chosen as German Freedom Day last fall.
Negotiations between Lauterbach (SPD) and Buschmann (FDP) on “basic protection” after the expiry of the previous rules turned out to be tough to difficult. The Greens and SPD states are anything but satisfied with the results.
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A Lauterbach fan is disappointed
Green health politician Janosch Dahmen is one of Lauterbach’s biggest supporters. But he is not entirely satisfied with the compromise by the draft of the new Infection Protection Act (IFSG), many experts believe that he no longer deserves his name. “A record incidence of hospitalizations and a growing number of cases and deaths show that we are not yet over the mountain,” Dahmen tweeted. “It is not very consistent that masks are mandatory on public transport, but not in the shopping crowd”, that is one of the most critical points. From March 20, masks will only be mandatory in facilities with vulnerable people, such as hospitals and care centers and local public transport, but not in supermarkets, retail stores, schools or restaurants. The partial mask requirement would only go into effect if state governments decided to do so beforehand. The same applies to corona test obligations, which can also be requested at the aforementioned facilities, as well as at schools and, among other things, in prisons.
Only the FDP seems satisfied
That bears the FDP signature, not Lauterbach’s. However, and Lauterbach now emphasizes this, there is still the option of more extensive regulations for so-called corona hotspots. These are regulated in the new paragraph 8 of paragraph 28a of the IFSG. The possible measures mentioned are mask requirements and distance requirements for public spaces, the creation of hygiene concepts in facilities and companies; also obligations to submit proof of testing, vaccination or recovery. This means that if the situation worsens, restrictions on the number of people and 2G, 2G-Plus and 3G regulations are possible again. But the state parliaments would first have to decide on the “existence of a concrete danger”, for a specific “local authority”, that is, districts, but also cities. In the draft, the definition of specific hazard is approximate and not quantified. This could be new virus variants, high new infections, or high occupancy of hospital beds. According to Lauterbach, no numbers were intentionally written in the law. “The federal government leaves the states out of the rain,” said Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU). The law is expected to take effect in the fall.
Lauterbach was granted recovery status for 90 days, and gave in to the mask rules
Obviously, the whole thing is also a concession by Lauterbach, because it could be asserted elsewhere. He insisted that the corona recovery status should be shortened to 90 days, also to encourage more people to get vaccinated. The FDP wanted half a year, that is, 180 days. Only at the last minute was the draft completed and he presented himself to the cabinet. The draft of a drafting guide will be presented to Parliament next week and will be approved on Friday, March 18. Without a new law, there would no longer be any corona protection measures from March 20. The hearing of the associations, which hardly deserves his name, showed how quickly the procedure was carried out. At 1:08 p.m. on Wednesday night, the draft of the new version of the IfSG was sent to the associations, with the request that the declarations be returned by 10 a.m. the same morning.
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Probably without the consent of the Federal Council
It is now eagerly awaited whether there will be a majority in the Bundestag for the general vaccination requirement from the age of 18 sought by Lauterbach and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). The drafts will be discussed in the Bundestag next week. Austria has suspended compulsory vaccination for all adults that has been in force there since the beginning of February. In view of the currently prevalent omicron variant of the corona virus, it was not proportional, he said in Vienna. In SPD circles, it was emphasized that the compulsory vaccination project would be fulfilled from the age of 18.
The Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), considers that it is “grossly negligent if the federal government delivers effective instruments for emergencies without need”. That still promises discussions for the next federal-state round on March 17. His colleague from Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil (SPD), emphasized: “You don’t throw away the fire extinguisher if it’s still on.” He criticizes that the federal states are deprived of important instruments, such as the obligation to wear a mask for large closed spaces. events, for example.
“There is still a lot of music in it,” it is said in state circles, but everything has been designed in such a way that the Federal Council is not supposed to agree. Lauterbach is accused here of letting himself be surprised by the FDP and negotiating poorly. Lauterbach himself doesn’t seem entirely happy either. He criticized the debate on Twitter, saying that due to the mild course hardly any action was needed: “’Mild courses’ cost 200-300 people their lives every day. We don’t want that.”