Experts split over whether Germany should extend Covid rules as case numbers stagnate

SPD health spokesperson, Karl Lauterbach, has called for tighter restrictions on access to public spaces for non-vaccinated people in Germany.
SPD health spokesperson, Karl Lauterbach, has called for tighter restrictions on access to public spaces for non-vaccinated people in Germany. (Credit: Kay Nietfeld/DPA)
The number of new Covid-19 cases has stagnated in Germany in recent weeks. But opinion is split on when the government should end the measures to contain the virus.

The latest numbers published by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Saturday show that the rate of Covid-19 infection remain stable with around 64 new cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day time period.

The 7-day incidence on Saturday stood at 64.4, exactly the same level as it had been a week ago. A month perviously the 7-day incidence was 83.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

According to the most recent data, 65 people were recorded as dying from the virus throughout Germany within the last 24 hour period. Some 94,000 people in the country have now died since the start of the pandemic after becoming infected.

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The number of Covid patients admitted to hospitals per 100,000 population within seven days – the most important parameter taken into account in discussions on a possible tightening of restrictions – is currently 1.67. That’s about the same as the previous week’s figure but far below the rate of 15.5 seen in January.

‘Time for more 2G rules’

SPD health spokesman Karl Lauterbach has called for a new round of talks between federal and state governments to tighten some of the Covid rules.

“It would make sense for state leaders to meet with the Chancellor again soon,” Lauterbach told Funke Media Group on Saturday. “From new rules to vaccinations, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made.”

Lockdown measures last winter were agreed upon during regular meetings between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders.

Warning of a “severe winter” Lauterbach said that the 2G rule, which restricts access to certain public places like restaurants and cinemas, should be applied more “intensively”. 

But other influential voices have called for all restrictions to be lifted in the coming weeks.

Andreas Gassen, head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, said that enough people had now been vaccinated for the government to be able to safely end restrictions.

“We shouldn’t wait until early next year to lift restrictions that are no longer particularly necessary,” Gassen said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper.

The Robert Koch Institute last week revised its proportion for the number of adults who been fully vaccinated by five percent. The new figure suggested that 80 percent of the adult population had been vaccinated.

The correction led to criticism of the health authority, with opposition politicians suggesting that the numbers could have been kept low under pressure from the government to motivate more people to get vaccinated.

Gassen said that the new vaccination numbers were good news and meant that the government should “show more courage” in returning life to normal.

SEE ALSO: What does Germany’s higher vaccination rate mean for winter?

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