The federal and state governments of Germany have agreed to relax covidien restrictions. On March 20, a large part of the current restrictions are to be abolished. This is provided for in the draft of a new Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz), which was discussed at a meeting of the federal government on Wednesday. According to the current Infection Protection Act, the restrictions introduced in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, which are currently in effect, expire on March 19.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP), who presented the new concept on Wednesday afternoon, stressed that despite the planned statutory changes, some basic infection protection measures will still be able to be applied after March 20.
Not all issues have been clearly resolved
Wearing masks, including on public transportation, and testing high-risk individuals for coronavirus in nursing homes or hospitals are considered basic protections. Although the requirement to wear masks in stores and supermarkets is to be abolished, the states have insisted that it is still required in some places – for example, on buses or inside public facilities. It is not clear whether it will still be necessary to cover the mouth and nose when visiting a hairdresser or travelling by train, or whether there will no longer be such a requirement.
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether and how the regulations in this regard in North Rhine-Westphalia, under which it is required to wear masks on public transport, in cabs, in rooms open to business or customers, during large events, and in hairdressers’ and beauty salons, will be changed.
Regulation of coronavirus outbreaks – decision up to the states
The draft of the new Infection Protection Act further provides for the regulation of outbreaks of coronavirus infections. It is intended to ensure the protection of the population in those regions where the number of new coronavirus infections is particularly high, even after most covid restrictions expire on March 20. In case of a high or even increasing number of new coronavirus infections and the risk of overloading the health care system, it will be possible to tighten the restrictions immediately, Lauterbach explained. The state parliaments would then be able to immediately counteract the spread of the pandemic by introducing stricter restrictions.
This would include the reinstatement of the obligation to wear masks, the sanitation regime, the requirement to show proof of vaccination, recovery status or negative coronavirus test results or the 2G and 3G rules. “This gives us the tools with which individual states can respond immediately to large numbers (of infections).” He believes these solutions will also be able to be used to combat a possible summer wave of infections.
Till April 2, transitional regulations will apply
Transitional rules are expected to remain in effect in the states until April 2. By that time, all states are expected to incorporate the planned new restriction regulations into state law.
The amended regulations are to be in force until September 23
The new regulations must be passed by the Bundestag and Bundesrat in the coming week for them to take effect March 20. The new infection protection law is scheduled to be considered by the Bundestag on Friday. It is expected to be in effect until September 23. With the pandemic situation expected to develop rapidly in the autumn, this would be a good time to consider a possible readjustment of the law’s provisions to changing circumstances.