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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The corona course of the Minister of Health: Lauterbach’s farewell to “Team Precaution” – politics

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The Google search “Lauterbach warns” is the source of almost endless warnings from the Federal Minister of Health, but so far one result has been waited in vain: that Karl Lauterbach (SPD) warns about his own politics.

This warning has never been more appropriate than it is today. With what drastic words the former deputy and health expert would have lashed out at the catalog of measures that he is currently launching as minister. As of Sunday these should be the guidelines to combat the pandemic.

Consequently, some people can imagine the cognitive dissonance that has arisen between Lauterbach’s latest tweets (“Germany has the highest incidence of corona in Europe. The unvaccinated are now defenseless”) and his realpolitik (no more protective masks in the trade retailer, goodbye to 2G and 3G). , he only explains with a split from the minister of the tweeter Lauterbach.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

Certainly, the doctor Lauterbach could only warn against this interpretation. He currently he not only insists that the new measures are sufficient to control Corona. But he also emphasizes that it is his own draft of it, anything but a loss in the power struggle against coalition partner FDP.

Both can be safely dismissed as PR; as an attempt to limit the damage by a minister who would certainly be in far greater trouble if the news situation were any different, even outside the “precautionary team” he once led.

Before the project to amend the Infection Protection Act negotiated by Lauterbach together with Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) is discussed in the Bundestag for the first time on Wednesday and finally on Friday, there could still be slight changes, in largely due to pressure from the greens. But at most it would probably be about expanding the mask requirement, for example to supermarkets. Better than nothing is the slogan with which the Greens and the SPD will probably finally agree on the draft.

Both ministries failed to find a line

Many MPs from the ruling coalition parties blame Lauterbach for bringing it to this. Or his lack of assertiveness in the federal government. It is inconceivable that his predecessor Jens Spahn (CDU) would have let the justice department convince him of the Corona laws to such an extent, that at the time he was also in charge of the SPD. According to the Greens, Lauterbach has gotten closer to the Liberals than necessary. He personally asked Buschmann to help formulate the government draft because the Health Ministry was largely busy at the time providing support for parliamentary motions for general coronavirus vaccination.

According to everything that can be heard, a tough process began a month ago in which both ministries failed to find a line. From then on, the responsibility shifted alternately to the vice presidents of the parliamentary groups of the government parties responsible for health and vice versa. Lauterbach’s party friend Olaf Scholz never got a chance to put his foot down – after all, even before the Ukraine crisis, the chancellor had shown little will to make pandemic politics his own topic. after March 19. Although there wasn’t much time left, not much happened after Buschmann and Lauterbach began working together two weeks ago. Parliament and ministries pushed the hot potato from one to another.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) negotiated the new draft of the Infection Protection Act with Lauterbach.Photo: IMAGO/photothek

The FDP was in a comfortable position from the beginning. First, he had the backing of a Minister of Justice, who was apparently very strong in the negotiations compared to Lauterbach. Above all, however, he had the “sunset clause” behind it: All applicable corona measures would simply expire if no majority was found for a new law. This power imbalance was finally sealed with the joint appearance of Lauterbach and Buschmann a week ago.

It was the first time that a Minister of Justice in the Ministry of Health was able to set the tone for a Corona law. For liberals, this was a public relations victory not to be underestimated. From then on, Minister Lauterbach could no longer hide behind Buschmann’s statements, which he had made at the home of his colleague. At least not without an even greater loss of face.

Since then, Lauterbach has decided to flee to the front. He refers to the so-called hotspot regulation in the law, with which broader pandemic measures should be possible. This should apply in ‘local authorities’ where state parliaments determine that the hospital system is overburdened or has exceptionally high incidences; following a decision by the state parliaments, this could apply at the city, district or even state level. On Friday, Lauterbach dismissed criticism that the law does not set limit values. He not only agreed with Buschmann on this, “but, frankly, it was my suggestion.” If there weren’t such soft clauses, they wouldn’t stand up in court.

It is feared or expected that any severe restrictions will not hold up in court.

However, there are also exactly the opposite fears here, depending on one’s perspective, one fears or one hopes that with the very interpretable wording of the law, every harsh restriction will not hold up in court. Apparently the Buschmann house sees it that way too. Over the weekend, the “Welt” reported on an internal analysis by the Ministry of Justice, according to which the hotspot regulations were actually “exceptional” and “only possible under great obstacles.” The fact is that: according to the legal text, high incidences by themselves do not constitute a critical point. It only arises if it can be deduced that the clinics will be overloaded, ideally with a judicial justification.

Whether your house legal interpretation will work, that should be shown very soon. On Monday, for example, the federal states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Bremen planned to keep the measures in place beyond March 19, with Brandenburg even wanting to tighten some of them. The courts will likely have to grapple with the issue as well, and it will also depend on how willing other Senate and state chanceries are to implement the hotspot regulations with the boldness Lauterbach is currently envisioning.

The federal states, the minister said on Friday, do well to prepare whatever is necessary now. That’s better, he warned, than “simply criticizing what the law can’t do.”

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