Covid-19: Four federal states are lifting corona isolation requirements

Four federal states have agreed to abolish the obligation to isolate people infected with the corona virus.

Covid-19: Four federal states are lifting corona isolation requirements

Four federal states have agreed to abolish the obligation to isolate people infected with the corona virus. It is Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, as the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Health announced on Friday in Stuttgart. In these countries, new regulations should come into force "soon", the details are currently being worked out.

The general obligation to isolate for people who have tested positive should therefore be lifted. “In their place, the federal states will introduce adapted, mandatory protective measures such as a limited obligation to wear masks for people who have tested positive, as well as urgent recommendations,” says the message from Stuttgart. Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) named November 16 as the date for abolishing the obligation to isolate in Bavaria.

Lauterbach: "There is no medical reason either

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach has criticized the plans of the federal states. "This comes at an inopportune time and does not find the approval of the federal government," said the SPD politician. He spoke of a mistake and warned of a "patchwork" with different isolation rules in the federal states.

"There is also no medical reason to forgo the obligation to isolate now," said Lauterbach. There are around 1,000 deaths from Covid per week, one is facing a "probably severe winter wave" and is "on the eve of a more contagious variant". It is therefore not really responsible to take away the obligation to isolate. He added that the workplace must remain safe and that people who are infected must be prevented from being pushed to work.

The German Foundation for Patient Protection has also criticized the planned end of the obligation to isolate. The obligation to isolate prevents the virus from spreading unhindered, said board member Eugen Brysch. "It protects against suffering and death," he emphasized. "In addition, infected workers are protected against giving in to employment pressure. These facts are wiped off the table by federal states that bury the obligation to isolate."

If different regulations are now to apply in each federal state on this central issue, it is chaotic from Brysch's point of view. "After all, millions of commuters alone cross national borders every day. It's not uncommon for it to be just a few steps."

"Giving people more personal responsibility"

"We are heralding a new phase in dealing with the pandemic," said Baden-Württemberg's Health Minister Manne Lucha (Greens). "It's time to give people more personal responsibility again."

According to the information from Stuttgart, the federal states refer "among other things to experiences from neighboring countries such as Austria, where there have been protective measures replacing isolation since the summer of 2022". No negative findings are known from these countries. "Declining numbers of infections, effective vaccinations, basic immunity within the population of more than 90 percent, generally no severe courses of the disease and effective antiviral drugs justify taking this step promptly from the point of view of the federal states."

No access to medical and nursing facilities

According to the notification, the countries agreed on joint recommendations as a basis for their new regulations. These stipulate, for example, that those who have tested positive must wear a mask outside their own home - except outdoors when a minimum distance of 1.5 meters can be maintained. It is therefore also planned that medical and nursing facilities that have tested positive will not be allowed to enter as visitors.

The four federal states, which have now jointly announced the lifting of the obligation to isolate, had asked Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) in a joint letter at the end of September to ensure that the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) changed its isolation recommendations for people infected with corona. Lauterbach had immediately rejected this at the time. Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann had already pointed out that the federal states can override the RKI recommendation.

The RKI recommends that the federal states order five days of isolation for infected people. An urgent recommendation is made not to end self-isolation until a (self-)test is negative. Health and care workers should also have been symptom-free 48 hours before the test was taken.