Pandemic: Bundestag debates corona rules for the fall

After only a few everyday requirements in summer, more corona protection requirements should be possible again for autumn.

Pandemic: Bundestag debates corona rules for the fall

After only a few everyday requirements in summer, more corona protection requirements should be possible again for autumn. To this end, the Bundestag is to adopt a package of laws by the traffic light coalition today, which will provide for more extensive rules on masks and tests from October 1 to April 7, 2023. The federal states should impose the requirements and be able to expand them in a critical situation. However, the obligation to wear masks on airplanes, which has been in force for months, is to end for the time being. The opposition has criticized the plans, which are expected to have to go to the Federal Council on September 16th.

The opposition has sharply criticized the traffic light coalition's plans. The CDU health expert Tino Sorge accused the coalition of "significant technical deficiencies" in the Bundestag on Thursday. Left and AfD also sharply criticized. The MPs were asked to vote on the SPD, Greens and FDP plans for the corona protection regulations, which are to apply from October.

Sorge spoke of "half-baked compromises" and said of the planned law: "It will lead to confusion in the fall." Kathrin Vogler from the left criticized the plans as implausible. "And that's going to make it incredibly difficult for people." The Union also called in particular for an end to compulsory vaccination for healthcare facilities.

The AfD calls for an end to the corona measures. AfD MPs drew attention to themselves by citing a number of examples in which Corona regulations had significantly disturbed individuals. They ended, like AfD MP Thomas Dietz, with the same call to the coalition: "Give people back their freedom and their personal responsibility."

Lauterbach defends draft

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), on the other hand, sees suitable instruments for controlling all conceivable scenarios with the planned corona rules for the autumn. "We enable the federal states to offer exactly what is necessary depending on the pandemic situation - no more, but also no less," said the SPD politician on Thursday in the Bundestag before the vote on a planned legislative package by the traffic light coalition. The countries could and would fall back on it. "We will have the situation under control."

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) also defended the plans. Almost all experts expected the infection situation to worsen, said Buschmann on Thursday when the plans were discussed in the Bundestag. Therefore, the state must be made capable of acting. At the same time, the draft of the traffic light coalition is proportionate. "It contains no lockdowns, no company closures, no school closures, no bans on demonstrations," said Buschmann. In general, the following applies: "If it is not necessary to interfere with fundamental rights, then it is necessary not to interfere with fundamental rights."

The Greens health expert Janosch Dahmen promoted the plans, which should ensure that the situation does not get worse with broad basic protection and targeted regional reactions. It is now also crucial to use the weeks until autumn to “put the pedal to the metal again” with booster vaccinations.

Specifically, it is about the future corona provisions in the Infection Protection Act. They are the legal basis for measures in the federal states and name possible instruments. In the spring, they had been significantly reduced, mainly at the urging of the FDP. With a view to an expected more critical infection situation in autumn and winter, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is also planning a new vaccination campaign, faster use of medication for the sick and more precise data on hospital occupancy. An overview:

The federal rules

FFP2 mask requirements in clinics, nursing homes and medical practices should apply nationwide. Likewise for everyone from the age of 14 on long-distance trains, for children between the ages of 6 and 13 a simpler surgical mask should be sufficient. Masks are now no longer compulsory on airplanes, but the federal government should be able to introduce them by ordinance without the consent of the Bundesrat.

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.

The first country level

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.

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”.

The second country level

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, the state government should not simply be able to determine these measures; 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.

The bus company association BDO called for the abolition of the mask requirement for long-distance buses, just like in airplanes. Uniform and comprehensible regulations are needed, said managing director Christiane Leonard of the editorial network Germany. She justified this with the economic crisis in the industry in view of high energy prices.

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