Germany: Requests from several states to extend restrictions until the end of April rejected

COVID-19 incidence in Germany remains very high. Many states would like to maintain protective measures – but the current legal basis for many nationwide pandemic-related restrictions expires this weekend. According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, its duration will not be extended.

Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Saarland have requested that the current pandemic restrictions be maintained until the end of April. However, the proposal to amend the Infection Protection Act (German: Infektionsschutzgesetz) again was rejected during consultations with the states’ health ministers, Lauterbach said after the talks. That means the pandemic control measures currently in place nationwide will expire no later than April 2, according to the federal government’s plan.

So far, only Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern want to take advantage of the hotspot legislation

In concrete terms, this means that as of Sunday, covering the mouth and nose will only be mandatory to a limited extent as of Sunday, in accordance with the recently amended infection protection law and the transition period. You will still have to wear masks in hospitals, nursing homes and public transport, among other places. Masks in stores or schools and the 2G or 3G rules may still be applied, but only on a regional level. For this, the parliament of the respective federal state has to declare that the situation in that region is particularly critical (such an area is referred to as a “hotspot”).

While FDP politicians have called for a far-reaching lifting of the covidium restrictions, many states have advocated maintaining stricter regulations in the wake of record numbers of infections. Many states have been critical of hotspot regulations, saying that the regulations adopted by the federal government are vaguely defined and difficult to apply.

Lauterbach, on the other hand, again called on the states to implement these regulations. He stressed that such a possibility also exists for entire states. So far, only Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Hamburg are known to have such plans. Lauterbach called on other states to follow the example of these two countries.

Lauterbach: overloading of the health care system must be prevented before it is too late

On this issue, however, the minister is being pressured by his coalition partner, the FDP. Parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr has called on the federal states to apply the hotspot regulations of the Infection Protection Act only to individual cities or municipalities.

Lauterbach thinks otherwise. In his view, it is necessary to consider how the hotspot regulations can be used to send a clear signal to the public that the pandemic is not yet over. The idea is that in regions where the health system may be overburdened, this should be prevented by implementing appropriate regulations before it is too late.

The health minister warned that the federal states should not count on the number of cases falling and the problem solving itself. In his opinion, this will not happen. Infection numbers remain very, very high, and some hospitals are already heavily burdened. This is an unsatisfactory situation that could continue for a long time.


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