It was a long Corona summer with only a few requirements in everyday life. But autumn is also beginning with the pandemic precautions. From this Saturday, provisions in the Infection Protection Act will take effect that allow more and stricter specifications for masks and tests for the colder season until before Easter. The federal states can impose them and, in critical situations, extend them. Rules on airplanes are becoming looser. Another major vaccination campaign, more precise data on the situation and more drug treatments for infected people are also to be added in the coming months.
In one fell swoop, additional corona rules don’t change that much in everyday life. In the federal states, it became apparent that the existing mask requirements in local transport with buses and trains would initially be extended. "Now it's time for a scarf and hat, but not yet for snow chains," said Hamburg's Senator for Health, Melanie Leonhard (SPD), with a view to the generally expanded options for intervention. The nationwide legal framework for this is now available until Good Friday, April 7, 2023. However, several nationwide requirements will come into force directly on Saturday. An overview:
FFP2 masks are mandatory nationwide in clinics, nursing homes, medical practices and other health facilities - as well as for everyone aged 14 and over on long-distance trains such as ICE and Intercity. For children from 6 to 13 years it can be simpler surgical masks.
Nationwide, in addition to the FFP2 mask, a fresh negative test result must also be presented when entering care facilities and hospitals. The following applies to employees: tests at least three times a week. Nursing homes must appoint officers to take care of vaccinations, hygiene and therapies for those who are sick, for example with the drug Paxlovid.
Across the country, the mask requirement that has been in force for months is no longer applicable. In more critical situations, the federal government could introduce them by ordinance. For those returning from vacation, the relaxed corona rules continue to apply without special proof when entering Germany over the autumn holidays and Christmas - at least as long as no new, more dangerous virus variant is circulating. The ordinance was extended by the Cabinet until January 31, 2023.
"Hygiene concepts must continue to be implemented, adapted to the specific situation. The following still applies: keep your distance, observe hygiene and ventilate regularly," says the Federal Ministry of Health. According to the Sars-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, the employer is obliged to draw up a company hygiene concept and to define appropriate measures to protect against infection and then to implement them. Depending on the risk situation, the employer must check which of the following measures he implements:
First country level
In addition to the nationwide rules, the state governments can set further requirements. In addition to masks in local transport, mask requirements in indoor areas such as shops and restaurants are also possible again - with the exception that you do not need a mask if you show a test in gastronomy and at cultural, leisure or sporting events. Tests can be prescribed in schools and day-care centers. It is also possible to have masks in schools - but only from class five and as far as it is necessary to maintain "regulated face-to-face teaching".
Second country level
In the case of a regionally more critical corona situation, the federal states can impose further requirements. This also includes mask requirements at outdoor events if distances of 1.50 meters are not possible there. Hygiene concepts for companies and other facilities can be prescribed. In addition, visitor limits for indoor events are possible. The condition for this, however, is a resolution in the state parliament and the determination that there is a concrete risk to the health system or other important areas of care - with an overall view of indicators.
A kind of "pandemic radar" is intended to make more data available on the local danger situation, as the Federal Ministry of Health explains - for example with up-to-date, more precise information on beds and patients in clinics that can be occupied, as well as data from wastewater studies. However, the German Hospital Society has already warned that several required data could not be reported beyond the turn of the year or could only be reported in a different form.
New vaccination campaign
The next major vaccination campaign is being prepared - especially for boosters of basic immunizations that were made a long time ago. Several advanced vaccines are available for this purpose, which are adapted to the current omicron virus variants BA.1 and BA.4/BA.5. From October 1st, a booster vaccination - i.e. a third injection - is generally required in order to be considered "fully vaccinated".
use of medication
Drug treatments for corona sufferers are to be promoted. The expert council of the federal government explained that there is a risk of severe courses and death, especially in people with risk factors or insufficient vaccination protection, which can be significantly reduced through the targeted and early use of antiviral therapy. For example, medical practices have recently been able to dispense the drug Paxlovid directly without patients having to go to the pharmacy.