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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Traffic light waves through the loosening of the crown: countries settle accounts with the government

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Karl Lauterbach is doing his best, but somehow his warnings and practical politics no longer fit. “We have achieved a lot, but we are not yet at the point where a Freedom Day could come,” says the health minister at the lectern of the German Bundestag.

Freedom Day can only be achieved if vaccination is mandatory. And then he reports the corona numbers from March 18, after two years of the pandemic. Almost 300,000 new cases, “and if we look at the death toll today: more than 200 people have died, that cannot satisfy us.”

In addition, there is the special German paper that too many over 60 years are not vaccinated. The former Lauterbach would now have been close to asking for a blockade, Minister Lauterbach has the thankless task of defending a law in the Bundestag that day that only the FDP in the coalition likes, several Green MPs criticize their own draft of the new Infection Law of Social Protection (IFSG), with which most of the measures will fall from Sunday, including the mask in shops, supermarkets or indoor events.

For the FDP, March 20, the beginning of spring, is at least a little Freedom Day. Lauterbach once promised a “super summer”, but now the war is here, and on the other hand, the traffic light dares to go out of the pandemic measures, which has had a devastating echo so far.

Lauterbach: There is no compromise between “Team Precaution” and “Team Freedom”

He emphasizes that it is a difficult commitment. “But that’s not the trade-off between team freedom and team caution,” says Lauterbach. The legal situation must be taken into account. “We cannot continue to put the entire country under protection to support a small group of unvaccinated people and those who are not willing to take the measures to protect them, the balance will be changed.”

Health committee vice chair Kirsten Kappert-Gonther (Greens), on the other hand, emphasizes that it would have been better to keep the mask requirement across the board. Her parliamentary group still agrees with the law, because otherwise all applicable rules would expire: “No law would have been worse than this law”; that’s a remarkably low verdict in a law of its own. However, the new law will finally be approved with a majority of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP.

Nearly nine hours a night for counter-statements on the IFSG draft

The anger of the state heads of government was also sparked by the fact that they were not involved, so the law was presented before the most recent federal-state round: the draft was sent at 01:18 am and everyone had until the next morning. until 10 in the morning for counter declarations, this process only increases the anger in the countries. And after the Bundestag, they couldn’t stop it in the Bundesrat either.

Actually, they should have called the mediation committee on Friday, but then with the expiry of the previous IFSG on Sunday, there would have been no further action. The traffic lights put them in a “take it or leave it” situation, the Union side in particular will remember, and there is already talk of a “turnaround.” Scholz needs countries right now, for the next challenge, dealing with refugees from Ukraine.

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Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, votes on the new Infection Protection Act.Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

Most of the rules will fall from Sunday, but the countries will make use of the transitory clause.

This is now planned: As of Sunday, access restrictions with 2G or 3G regulations, as well as mask requirements in supermarkets or other indoor areas, will no longer apply. The mask should only remain mandatory in clinics, nursing homes and on local public transport. However, many countries have decided to use a transition period due to the record incidence of 1,700 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, albeit with many mild courses, allowing them to maintain existing measures until at least April 2. . That means: Until then, the old rules will largely continue to apply.

After that, each state parliament must decide whether stricter hotspot regulations should apply to regions with particularly high incidences: an extended mask requirement for supermarkets, distance and hygiene rules, as well as 2G tests or 3G. The prerequisite is the spread of a new and dangerous variant of the virus in a “local authority” or the imminent overload of the health system. The conditions that are decided according to the new legal basis may remain in force until September 23 at the latest.

Has trouble defending the new Corona law: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).Photo: IMAGO/Metodi Popov

When is a hot spot a hot spot?

But the hot spot regulation is so vague that it opens the floodgates to complaints. It is not defined from which figures of incidence or occupation of beds a region could be a critical point. It is also unclear what exactly a local authority is. Cities, municipalities, districts, entire federal states? And in the future, each critical point must be determined by a resolution of a state parliament, which can no longer be decided locally.

Lauterbach, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the leader behind this relaxation path, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP), have received the concentrated frustration of the prime ministers. There has been no federal-state change like Thursday in two years of pandemic, harsh words were used, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) accused Lauterbach of losing all credibility to him.

But Scholz simply let the criticism slip: “Thank you for the discussion,” he said internally. Then all 16 heads of government, including the SPD side, made statements in the minutes that they did not agree with the new basic plan. of protection.. A novelty in pandemic policy.

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Hendrik Wüst, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, who joined from Israel, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Berlin Prime Minister Franziska Giffey…Photo: Michael Sohn/AFP

Wüst: NRW “obviously not a city-state”

Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann has now emphasized that an entire state can also be declared a hotspot, explained North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) after the federal state change, where there was no anger or differences at the press conference. secretly it became more. However, according to Wüst, he was probably more aimed at the city-states.

North Rhine-Westphalia “is obviously not a city-state”. And you also have to show that the health system is specifically overloaded. “The boy must have almost fallen into the well, he has to fall, and then you have to justify it,” criticizes Wüst. There is simply a lack of practicality.

ostracism in the Bundesrat

Consequently, after the decision of the Bundestag, the evaluations in the special session of the Bundesrat fail, where the law can no longer be stopped for the prohibited reasons.

Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) indirectly certifies that Chancellor Scholz has reneged on his word on corona policy. The Chancellor had expressly promised that cooperation with the federal states on the revised Infection Protection Act was a matter of course. He then changed the law “without our experience”. Then government representatives would have said in the media that the states could no longer hide behind the federal government.

“It’s like getting slapped in the face. I don’t want to hide behind anyone, I want to fight the pandemic,” Ramelow said. Countries would be largely deprived of the opportunity to do so. “Vaccinate, test, keep your distance.” , wearing a mask: these are the basics we have to work with.” Hessian Prime Minister Volker Bouffier’s judgment is even harsher: “The procedure is unspeakable and simply undignified.” already comes with. Karl Lauterbach (SPD) publicly feared the worst and at the same time presented such a relaxation law.

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