Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH: Federal Council votes on corona rules for autumn and winter

Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH: Federal Council votes on corona rules for autumn and winter

FFP2 obligation in many places and, if necessary, upper limits for indoor events: This Friday, the Federal Council will vote on the new corona rules for autumn and winter decided by the Bundestag.

The parliamentary votes were preceded by a lengthy bickering between the traffic light coalition and several federal states. A refusal in the state chamber has only been announced from Thuringia and Schleswig-Holstein. Without a decision, there would be no more rules from October.

The central provisions of the Infection Protection Act, which are to apply from October 1st to April 7th, 2023, include nationwide mask requirements in long-distance trains, clinics and medical practices. This obligation should no longer apply in airplanes. Countries can also make masks compulsory again in local transport, in restaurants and other indoor areas. There should be no more lockdowns, company or school closures.

Who wants to disagree why?

It is also planned that the facility-related corona vaccination obligation for employees in the health sector will remain. “There shouldn’t be any more discord just because the Bundestag didn’t have the strength to decide on a general obligation to vaccinate,” said Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) of the German Press Agency. “The Federal Infection Protection Act will not have my approval in this form.”

Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow is against the current version of the Infection Protection Act.
© IMAGO/Political-Moments / imago

With the new regulation, Corona is included in a list of particularly contagious infectious diseases such as cholera, measles, whooping cough and plague. Persons who are ill or who are suspected may only enter schools and daycare centers with a medical certificate or a negative test – a five-day quarantine alone is not enough. Schleswig-Holstein’s Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU) called this a “disaster for schoolchildren”: Schleswig-Holstein could not agree in the Bundesrat.

What do other critics say?

The societies for pediatric and adolescent medicine (DGKJ) and for pediatric infectiology (DGPI) as well as the professional association of paediatricians (BVKJ) see it like Prien. Even if the cold persists, children can be asked to take a new test every day. There is a risk of arbitrariness.

The General Manager of the German Association of Cities Helmut Dedy.
The General Manager of the German Association of Cities Helmut Dedy.
© imago/Jürgen Heinrich / imago/Jürgen Heinrich

The German Association of Cities, however, finds the protective measures insufficient. “Essentially, only limited mask requirements are provided for in the law,” said Managing Director Helmut Dedy of the editorial network Germany. “That’s not enough if the corona infections are increasing rapidly and we need measures to contain the infection quickly.” He fears a new patchwork quilt with different measures from state to state: “That is not helpful.” It also remains unclear in which infection situation countries use additional instruments.

Who is for it?

In the spring, the previously applicable corona measures were significantly reduced, mainly at the urging of the FDP. The new regulation stems from a compromise between Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP). Lauterbach wants to promote the bill in the state chamber itself.

A general obligation to vaccinate could not be enforced at the federal level.
A general obligation to vaccinate could not be enforced at the federal level.
© dpa / Sven Hoppe / dpa

Hamburg’s Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) appealed to the other heads of government: You should “be reasonable now and say: what the federal law allows us to do again, namely to make restrictions in acute situations in the health care system, we should allow that,” he told RTL north.

Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) also sees ambiguities in the law and expects a patchwork quilt – but is still in favor of a yes in the Bundesrat. “Despite all the criticism, it is clear that we need the legal basis,” he told the Augsburger Allgemeine (Friday). “No one can want that we want to go into a winter with numbers that will certainly increase again without the possibility of taking measures.”

What exactly is planned for October?

FFP2 masks are prescribed nationwide in clinics, nursing homes and medical practices and also on long-distance trains, with a simple surgical mask being sufficient for children between the ages of 6 and 13. However, masks are no longer compulsory on airplanes. In nursing homes and clinics, a negative test must also be presented before entry.

The federal states can impose further requirements: a mask requirement in local trains and buses as well as in publicly accessible interiors such as shops, restaurants and event rooms. In gastronomy and at events, anyone who shows a negative test must be excluded from this.

Tests should be mandatory in schools and daycare centers. Masks may be compulsory from class five if this is “necessary to maintain regulated face-to-face teaching”.

If the infection situation worsens, the federal states can make further requirements with a state parliament resolution: Masks are also compulsory at outdoor events if distances of 1.50 meters are not possible; Attendance caps for indoor events; Hygiene concepts for companies and other facilities.

A new nationwide vaccination campaign is also planned. The aim is to provide information about the vaccines that have been adapted to new virus variants. In addition, drugs should be used more intensively in people with Covid 19, as Lauterbach announced. There should also be better, up-to-date data on hospital occupancy. Homes must appoint officers who take care of vaccinations, hygiene and therapies for those who are sick, for example with the drug Paxlovid. (dpa)

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