Politicians call for pandemic exit plan in Germany

Calls are growing from some politicians for a firm plan to relax Covid restrictions in Germany.

A sign on a shop in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria, says: 'No more 2G with immediate effect' following a court decision.
A sign on a shop in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria, says: 'No more 2G with immediate effect' following a court decision. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

The federal and state governments are meeting on Monday to discuss the Covid situation in Germany – and they want to stick to the current regulations that include strict entry rules to most public places. 

But in view of Omicron variant, politicians from Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Free Democrats (FDP) are demanding that they start thinking about an end to the restrictions.

READ ALSO: Is Germany set to ease or tighten Covid restrictions?

CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt told Welt that he wants to see Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the state leaders come up with a strategy to “move out of the pandemic step by step”.

He said that because experts agree that Omicron generally results in milder illness than previous Covid variants, the outlook needs to change.

“That is why the evaluation standards must also be adjusted,” he said, adding that the incidence cannot be the yardstick for deciding measures. 

“The central question must be: how burdened is the health system?” he said. This has to be the basis “for all decisions by the federal and state governments”, added Dobrindt.

Relaxations for major events?

Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann told broadcaster ARD that when the peak of the Omicron wave – expected for mid-February – was reached and the numbers were also declining in hospitals, the measures would have to be relaxed.

Christof Rasche, leader of the FDP state parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia, went further and called for relaxations for large events. He also urged for the 2G regulation in shops and 2G-plus in restaurants be shelved.

2G means that only vaccinated (geimpft) and recovered people (genesen) can enter, while 2G-plus means that vaccinated and recovered people need to show proof of being boosted or a negative Covid test.

He pointed out that courts in some federal states – including Bavaria – have already overturned the 2G rule in shops.

Earlier, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities also urged the federal and state governments to develop a gradual Covid relaxation plan.

An exit strategy must “be prepared now”, Chief Executive Gerd Landsberg told RND on Sunday.

“In neighbouring countries, we can see that the pandemic will reach its peak at some point, and then the numbers will drop drastically and quickly again,” he said.

As The Local has reported, draft plans show that Chancellor Scholz and the state leaders want to keep the current regulations in place for now against the backdrop of rising infections and fears that hospitalisations will increase, and key infrastructure will struggle. 

However, it is expected that leaders will discuss plans on how to relax rules in future during Monday’s Covid summit.

Member comments

  1. There is no exit strategy. The power given to the politicians hasn’t been seen since it was taken in 1933. They are addicted to it. What is most terrifying is how willing people were then, and now to not only go along with it but actually get in lockstep behind them. And chant for more.

    The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.

    1. Bang on. By far the most alarming thing has been the media’s total abandonment of its role (and responsibility) of providing robust challenge and scrutiny of this massive government overreach. The vast majority of people are extremely obedient and go with whatever line the media feeds them.

      Particularly disappointing in Germany.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now