The Bundestag has decided the Corona rules for autumn and winter. The legal package of the traffic light coalition, which generally allows for stricter requirements for masks and tests, received 386 votes on Thursday. 313 MPs voted against, 3 abstained. The Federal Council still has to agree. The rules are said to apply from October 1st to April 7th, 2023. The new rules are intended to counter a feared significant increase in corona infections.
A nationwide FFP2 mask requirement should continue to apply on long-distance trains, but no longer on airplanes. There should also be such a mask requirement in clinics, nursing homes and medical practices. A negative test should also be presented before entering nursing homes and clinics.
The countries should be allowed to impose a mask requirement in restaurants and other indoor areas from October. The obligation to wear masks in local public transport should also be able to be further imposed by the federal states. Tests should be mandatory in schools and daycare centers. It is also possible to make masks compulsory in schools from class five. In the case of a regionally more critical corona situation, the federal states should be able to impose further requirements.
During the debate, the opposition had expressed harsh criticism. The CDU health expert Tino Sorge accused the coalition of "significant technical deficiencies". Kathrin Vogler from the left criticized the plans as implausible. Several AfD MPs called on the coalition to give people "their freedom and personal responsibility" back.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) defended the rules: “We enable the federal states to offer exactly what is necessary depending on the pandemic situation – no more, but also no less.” Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) said of the draft he helped develop: “It contains no lockdowns, no company closures, no school closures, no bans on demonstrations.”
The Corona rules in detail:
In addition to the mask, a negative test should be presented before entering nursing homes and clinics. In order to strengthen the protection of those in need of care who are particularly at risk, homes should appoint officers who take care of vaccinations, hygiene and therapies for those who are sick, for example with the drug Paxlovid.
Tests should be mandatory in schools and daycare centers. It is also possible to make masks compulsory in schools – but only from the fifth grade and only to the extent that this is “necessary to maintain regulated face-to-face teaching”.
Masks are no longer compulsory on airplanes. The federal government should be able to introduce them by ordinance without the consent of the Bundesrat if the number of cases increases. A nationwide mask requirement should remain in long-distance trains.
There is no federal regulation here. The federal states should continue to be able to regulate mask requirements for buses and trains in local transport.
From October 1st, the states should be able to impose conditions on themselves. This also includes the obligation to wear masks in local transport with buses and trains. However, masks should again become mandatory in publicly accessible indoor spaces such as shops and restaurants - with the mandatory exception that you do not need a mask if you show a negative test in gastronomy and at cultural, leisure or sporting events.
In the case of a regionally more critical corona situation, the federal states should be able to impose further requirements. This also includes the obligation to wear masks 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 should be possible.
However, these measures should not simply be able to be determined by the state governments, a state parliament resolution should be necessary. It should also be a condition that a specific threat to the health system or other important areas of care for a region is identified - in an overall view of the number of infections and other indicators.