More Covid measures needed in Germany ‘in due course’, says Health Minister

Germany's latest tightening of Covid rules, including 2G-plus in restaurants, is a big step forward but won't be enough to contain Omicron, says Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

More Covid measures needed in Germany 'in due course', says Health Minister
A sign on a pub in Mainz says it's 2G-plus rules - and people need a booster shot or current Covid test to enter. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

On Friday Chancellor Olaf Scholz and state leaders decided to tighten Covid restrictions nationwide, with plans to implement 2G-plus in the hospitality industry. 

It means that people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid – but haven’t had their booster shot – will have to take a rapid Covid test before visiting a bar, restaurant or cafe. People who are vaccinated and have a booster shot do not need a test.

States are currently implementing these rules and there may be some regional differences. 

READ ALSO: 2G plus – Germany tightens Covid rules in restaurants, bars and cafes

KEY POINTS: Germany’s plans to soften the impact of Omicron

On Sunday evening Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told German broadcaster ARD that the restrictions, including the changes to quarantine times,  were an “important step forward” and would make cafes and restaurants “safer”.

“I believe that this will help us,” he said, but added that it would not defeat the Omicron wave. “I think the number of cases will increase. So further measures will still be necessary, in due course. But for now, this is a very important step forward.”

When asked if at some point only people with booster vaccinations could have access to restaurants – meaning that vaccinated people would be banned – Lauterbach said, “No, so that doesn’t necessarily mean that, because we can also take other measures. But I think it is important to first give the measures we have now taken a chance to work.”

He added that people in Germany could do their bit by getting vaccinated and boosted.

“The more people boosted we have in society, the harder it is for Omicron to build a strong wave,” Lauterbach added.

Green Party health politician Janosch Dahmen told broadcaster ZDF he believed 2G-plus rules could be extended.

“We may also have to adopt further indoor areas with 2G-plus measures as additional protection, beyond the catering industry,” he said.

The Omicron wave is only at the beginning, he said. “And when we look at neighbouring countries, we see it’s a big problem everywhere that we have to deal with now.”

The more transmissible Omicron variant, which was first reported in South Africa in November, is spreading rapidly in Germany.

Experts believe that Omicron tends to lead to milder courses of the disease and that people who are infected need to be hospitalised less often.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister warns of ‘naive believe Omicron signals end of pandemic’

However, the German government’s expert council recently warned that the strong infection dynamics threaten to outweigh the advantage of milder courses of the disease.

There are concerns that if large numbers of people are infected at the same time it could still overload the healthcare system, and lead to many people off sick at the same time which could destabilise vital services.

Some leading experts are calling for other approaches.

Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck called for a “pragmatic approach” to the pandemic, and “to learn to live with the virus”.

“In contrast, the permanent state of alarm is tiring and not successful,” he told German daily Bild.

Streeck, however, urged that the burden in hospitals should “continue to be monitored closely and, if necessary, to react with measures”.

Germany on Monday reported 25,255 Covid cases and 52 deaths within the latest 24 hour period.

The 7-day incidence climbed to 375.7 infections per 100,000 people.

READ ALSO: Covid infections rise in Germany as Omicron spreads

German vocabulary 

In due course – zu gegebener Zeit 

Measures – (die) Maßnahmen

Entry/access – (der) Zugang

People who’ve received their booster vaccination – Geboosterte

Society/community – (die) Gesellschaft 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. first the country was told masks would slow the pandemic. then the country was told lockdowns would slow the pandemic. then the country was told the “[email protected]” would END the pandemic, and now that the boosters will finally bring us all to a safer place. meanwhile, there has been barely any resolution. how may boosters is enough? how many mandates are enough? when will the country start to demand more of its officials, ask important questions, challenge this narrative, and think for itself?

    1. Unfortunately I think most of society has been trained to believe the government want whats best for “the people”.
      We need to learn to live with this virus. And that means:
      1.Protecting the vulnerable, vaccine and shield. Just like we do with the flu.
      2. Forget vaccine passes/ mandates. There is zero evidence they work at all.
      3. Face masks must go. If you want to wear one it should be a personal choice.
      4. Get the economy fully open. Everyone can choose where they want to go.
      If you’re scared feel free to stay home. Let everyone else get on with it.

      I heard today that they have been doing studies on the T cell protection from the common cold seems to offer a very good protection from even contracting the covid 19. It sounded very promising. (If I can re find the link I will post it here.)

      We can’t stop covid. We can’t control it. Its going to do what virus’s do. But the damage we are doing to the young generations is inexcusable. We need to end this madness.

  2. I am confused in that:

    One not vaccinated ‘may’ have a Covid-19 infection which, ‘may’ infect vaccinated people.

    Those that have received vaccinations, who in turn ‘may’ benefit from a less debilitating condition, ‘if’ infected, could pass it onto the unvaccinated, it being the latter’s choice to risk debilitating conditions, if that is in fact the case.

    Reference to RKI Status reports e.g. do not show drastic changes to ICU occupancy. Said occupancy alleged heavily by Media and Government members to being touted around as mainly unvaccinated cases!

    Note: If hospitalised with only the first vaccination one is classed as unvaccinated.

    Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics?

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German states clash with government over new Covid protection laws

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that the pandemic was "not over yet" but that the country was entering a "new phase". However, states have raised concerns about the plan to drop almost all Covid measures.

German states clash with government over new Covid protection laws

The Chancellor held talks with German state leaders on Thursday to discuss the pandemic, as well as the war in Ukraine and how Germany can better manage and support refugees having to flee their homes.

It came as the German government gets set to drop almost all Covid measures on March 20th. Basic restrictions – like mandatory masks on public transport and in health settings will remain – as well as a ‘hotspot’ mechanism for bringing in tougher rules in areas where Covid cases build up.

The new slimmed-down Infection Protection Act is set to pass through the Bundestag and Bundesrat on Friday.

READ ALSO: The key Covid rule changes this week in Germany

But German states feel that they have been ignored and fear that the law changes planned by the coalition government will leave them with barely any options for combating the pandemic.

North Rhine-Westphalia premier Hendrik Wüst, who spoke by video link because he is in Covid isolation due to an infection, said the draft law was “legally uncertain and practically unworkable”.

Scholz defended the new law for Covid measures against criticism, saying it was a “legal basis on which to build for the future”.

However, Scholz also praised the “constructive discussion” with state premiers.

He said he was concerned about the high Covid infections. But the Chancellor said the situation in hospitals and intensive care units was not developing dramatically, and the Omicron variant resulted in less severe illness generally. Once again, he appealed to citizens to get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: How worried should we be about Germany’s rising Covid infections?

Earlier in the day, the Bundestag exchanged blows for the first time over a possible vaccine mandate in Germany. 

MPs debated two bills and three motions for and against compulsory vaccination.

Several speakers warned of new restrictions on freedom in autumn without compulsory vaccination, while others said they were strictly against vaccine mandates.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) told MPs: “We can end the pandemic for Germany for the first time with compulsory vaccination. We’ll be in the same place in autumn as we are now if we don’t seize this unique opportunity together.”

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said: “People in this country are fed up. Let’s finally get this pandemic over with, get rid of the virus and then return to freedom.”

Opposing views across parliamentary groups became clear.

Tabea Rößner, of the Green Party, said: “Many are afraid, some report strong reactions to vaccination.”

Left-wing politician Gregor Gysi said: “I was for it (vaccine mandate) with measles because that eradicated the disease, the (Covid) vaccine can’t do that here.”

MPs will vote on the mandate in April. 

Support for refugees

After the talks on Thursday Scholz said that the federal and state governments were united and wanted to support refugees from Ukraine in Germany. 

He admitted that “this will be a big, big challenge”.

Scholz said it was now a matter of providing help quickly and without complications, to make sure that refugees can work and that children can go to school “immediately”.

READ ALSO: German states call for more support in managing refugee crisis

Scholz also praised the “overwhelming culture of willingness to help” in Germany. According to the Interior Ministry 187,428 refugees have registered in Germany from Ukraine so far – but the real number is probably much higher.

Scholz pledged more funding to districts across Germany to help support people. A working group is to draw up a plan on this front by April 7th.

The Chancellor also emphasised that the invasion of Ukraine was “Putin’s war”. He said it was completely unacceptable for there to be any hostility against Russian people.