Covid lockdowns in Germany shouldn’t be ruled out, says expert

German medical experts, scientists and industry bosses are looking ahead to autumn when the government will introduce new Covid laws. Many are wondering if lockdowns or contact restrictions will be on the table again.

A medical mask lies on the ground of an U-Bahn station in Hamburg.
A medical mask lies on the ground of an U-Bahn station in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

The current Covid infection protection laws expire on September 23rd. The German government plans to extend them – but it’s still not clear what they will contain. 

According to the German president of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, infection laws should allow for far-reaching measures to protect people against Covid.

“Anyone who categorically rules out measures such as contact restrictions or lockdowns from the outset has neither understood the meaning of the law nor grasped the seriousness of the situation,” Montgomery told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe on Wednesday.

“An infection protection law should open up opportunities (for measures) and save lives.”

Montgomery said the laws must contain a “toolbox” that politicians can draw from when the situation requires it.

“Whether the instruments are used later depends on the respective assessment of the situation,” he said. “But the fact that they are needed should be indisputable.”

Epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb, of the Leibnitz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland that tough restrictions depended on the infection situation.

“We only have to talk about a lockdown if new dangerous variants appear,” he said. Otherwise “such radical measures” are not needed for autumn and winter.

READ ALSO: Masks and tests – The Covid rules that tourists in Germany should know

Back in spring, mainly at the insistence of the liberal Free Democrats, who are part of the ruling coalition along with the Social Democrats and the Greens, Covid provisions in the Infection Protection Act were significantly relaxed.

They form the legal basis for measures in the states, and define possible instruments that politicians can use to control the pandemic. At the moment, only basic measures are in force across Germany, including mandatory masks on public transport.

The coalition is currently discussing future regulations. 

KEY POINTS: Germany Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Operators of clubs, which have been hit hard in the past years, are following the current debate “with the greatest concern”, said the General Manager of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga), Ingrid Hartges.

She warned that measures such as mandatory masks or rapid testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated people at major events should only be introduced if they are needed to contain the pandemic. “The decisive factor must be how dangerous a virus variant is and how high the hospitalisation rate is,” Hartges said.

Meanwhile, Munich-based expert Clemens Wendtner called for the possibility of prescribing the Covid-19 drug Paxlovid to at-risk groups as a precaution in view of the current relatively high infection figures.

It’s crucial to take Paxlovid early, said the head physician of infectious diseases at the Munich Clinic Schwabing.

“I am therefore of the opinion that people who belong to a vulnerable group should have the drug in their cupboard at home,” he said.

On Wednesday the incidence stood at 740.1 Covid infections per 100,000 people in seven days. There were 140,999 Covid infections reported in the latest 24 hour period and 136 deaths. 

Member comments

  1. Lockdowns should absolutely be ruled out. They don’t work, they haven’t worked and they won’t work next time.

    There is no evidence they work. None. The only evidence is from “experts” who just say it works and provide no evidence that lockdowns do anything. Weve reached a plateau in case numbers this summer without lockdowns. All for something with a 99.9% survival rate.

    If you want a lockdown, go to china. They lockdown hard over there.
    (So I’ve heard and the videos of zero covid. Lauterbach’s wet dream.)

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Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

Health ministers across Germany's 16 states are debating the government's new Covid plan - and politicians in Bavaria say they want more clarity.

Bavaria pushes for stricter Covid regulations in autumn

On Tuesday, federal and state health ministers planned to discuss the Covid protection proposals for autumn and winter presented last week by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

However, some states and politicians are not satisfied with the plans. 

Under the proposals, masks will remain mandatory in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to introduce further measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport.

States will also have the power to take tougher Covid measures if the situation calls for it, such as mandatory masks indoors, but lockdowns and school closures have been ruled out. 

READ ALSO Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

The draft law states that there can be exceptions from wearing masks in indoor spaces, such as restaurants, for recently Covid-vaccinated or recovered people. 

But Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) told DPA that these planned exemptions were not justified because vaccinated and recovered people can still transmit infections. “There are clear gaps in the current draft law,” said the CSU politician.

Dominik Spitzer, health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bavarian state parliament, also questioned this exception, saying the rules “simply made no sense”.

“With the current virus variant, that would be impossible to convey, since even vaccinated people can continue to carry the virus,” the FDP politician told Bavarian broadcaster BR24. 

The coalition government’s graduated plan under the new Infection Protection Act, is set to be in force from October 1st until April 7th next year. 

The powers for the states are a first step, “but they do not go far enough for us”, Holetschek added, while calling for some points to be tightened up. “We need strong guidelines for autumn and winter.”

Holetschek said the government needed to tighten up the criteria with which states can adopt and enforce more effective measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Could Germany see a ‘patchwork’ of Covid rules?

Meanwhile, CDU health politician Erwin Rüddel said Germany was on the “wrong track” and the country should find “a completely different approach” to Covid policy than it has so far.

He accused the coalition government of being in “panic mode” and said he doubted the Bundestag would pass the proposals.

“I believe, there will be significant changes (to the draft)”, he said.

But the chairperson of the doctors’ association Marburger Bund, Susanne Johna, backed the plans.

“The proposal for the new Infection Protection Act gives the states sufficient possibilities to react adequately to the infection situation,” Johna told the Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

“The states can take regionally adapted measures to protect people if the need arises. I can’t understand why this concept is being called into question right away.”