Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) has called for a unified strategy for Germany against a new variant of the coronavirus called Omikron. “In addition to the current Delta management, we need a unified nationwide strategy against the Omikron variant,” Söder said after a consultation with representatives of the Bavarian and Saxon governments. Söder also called for the next Prime Ministers’ Conference to be convened as soon as possible – later this year or early next year at the latest.
The Omikron variant of the coronavirus is causing great uncertainty due to its rapid spread. So far, 87 suspected cases and 39 confirmed infections have been reported in Bavaria. Söder justified the need for a uniform strategy by the differing procedures in the individual states. Munich airport, for example, has stricter rules for people arriving from South Africa than Frankfurt am Main, Söder said. That results in fewer flights from South Africa to Munich, but more to Frankfurt.
Bavaria wants to abolish mandatory testing for people who have taken a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
Söder said he hopes an agreement will be reached at a conference of health ministers on Tuesday to abolish mandatory testing for people who have taken a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine who want to go to events held under the 2G plus rules. Bavaria wants such a rule to apply two weeks after the booster vaccination.
The CSU leader believes that the plan to make vaccination against coronavirus universally mandatory came too late. He also criticized the fact that the bonus for nursing staff will not be paid out soon. He felt that apparently the new government coalition is not in agreement on who should receive it. In his view, it should be given to all those working in the nursing sector.
Kretschmer warns of difficult situation in Saxony
Both Bavaria and Saxony want to accelerate the vaccination campaign. Especially in Saxony, the pandemic situation is still very difficult. Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer told a press conference that although the seven-day incidence of COVID-19 in Saxony has finally fallen clearly below the level of 1,000 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and that there is hope that tough measures against coronavirus will manage to stop the fourth wave of the pandemic, clinics are still working in emergency mode.
Vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic. “Omicron is knocking on the door,” Kretschmer warned. Therefore, between Christmas and New Year “under no circumstances should there be a break” in vaccinations. He said Saxony will make sure vaccination centers and doctors’ offices remain open between Christmas by paying medical staff more.
Consistently combat hate speech on the internet
The politician also renewed his call for consistent action against online hate speech. “We expect the federal government to take action on this issue,” the Saxon prime minister stressed. It is not about banning network and instant messaging providers, but about enforcing “always and everywhere” the standards that apply in Europe. What has been achieved with Facebook and Twitter has not yet been achieved with other communicators. “That’s why we have to work on it – democracy has to be able to defend itself,” – Kretschmer said.
Due to increasing incidents of violence during protests against restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic, calls for a crackdown on the online service Telegram have recently intensified. In the case of the often illegal demonstrations, during which attacks on police officers and journalists are notorious, mobilization often takes place via Telegram. The messenger is also used by right-wing extremists.