New Corona variant: How politicians want to react to Omikron


Status: 11/29/2021 5:24 p.m.

More and more people are infected with Corona. The Omikron variant exacerbates the situation. How does politics react? Does the Infection Protection Act have to be changed again? What do the federal and state governments want? An overview.

How is federal politics reacting to the corona numbers and the new Omikron variant?

The number of infections continues to rise rapidly, and now the new Omikron variant is also being added: The pressure to act in politics is growing ever greater. The prime ministers of the federal states now want to discuss the corona crisis with the managing chancellor Angela Merkel and the likely future chancellor Olaf Scholz. During the telephone vote scheduled for 1 p.m., the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the so-called federal emergency brake should also be discussed. Karlsruhe wants to decide in the morning for the first time on exit and contact restrictions and school closings under the federal emergency brake in the main.

So far, a federal-state round was planned for December 9th. A date that has been criticized from many quarters as being too late. The Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock said in the ARD-Broadcast Anne Will: “We can’t wait until the 9th.” If the federal states fail to implement the necessary measures, action must be taken at the federal level.

The acting Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn had also called for a faster meeting of the leaders of the federal and state levels. There must also be contact restrictions immediately. The designated new Federal Family Minister Anne Spiegel from the Greens and FDP boss Christian Lindner also spoke out in favor of further contact restrictions. Lindner, who is to become finance minister in the coming government, emphasized that a crisis team would be set up this week with a German general at the head.

According to the SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, the traffic light coalition wants to tighten the corona measures in the short term. According to Lauterbach, there will be corresponding proposals “this week” Phoenix at. In view of the high number of infections, Lauterbach believes that bars, clubs and discos must be closed.

How do the countries react?

Many country leaders are also pressing for more contact restrictions and more effort in the vaccination campaign. Some countries are planning further measures. So prepare North Rhine-Westphalia further tightening. As the news agency dpa learned from government circles, the state cabinet will discuss further measures to reduce contact tomorrow. In particular, major events and other places with a particular risk of infection are to be dealt with.

Also the cabinets of Bayern and Saxony then want to discuss the current Corona situation together. In the opinion of Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder, the best strategy against the new Omikron variant is “boost, boost, boost”. He challenged in common Morning magazine from ARD and ZDF changed the law to allow pharmacists, nurses and all doctors to participate in the vaccination campaign. This will give the boosting “a new boost”. At the same time, he spoke out in favor of contact restrictions at the national level.

Also the Saarland State government plans to tighten the corona measures. This was announced by Prime Minister Tobias Hans in his government statement. There should be massive restrictions for unvaccinated people. The current situation is an “extreme challenge”, added Hans with a view to Omikron.

Of the Baden-Württemberg Health Minister Manfred Lucha expects further tightening in his state. Contacts would have to be cut back by 70 to 90 percent in order not to overload hospitals, he said on Deutschlandfunk. Among other things, major events could be canceled. Lucha is also calling for the “epidemic situation of national scope” that only recently expired to be returned in the coming days in order to be able to decide on more stringent measures in the corona situation.

Who can decide what?

The traffic light parties let the epidemic situation of national scope expire on November 25 and reformed the Infection Protection Act with their new majority in the Bundestag. In the future, the federal states will no longer be able to impose lockdowns, school closings and curfews. Transitional rules run until December 15th.

Against this background, politicians of the SPD, the Greens and, above all, the FDP refer to the responsibility of the federal states. These could implement many more measures such as 2G, 2G-plus or 3G and also impose contact restrictions. FDP boss Lindner therefore rejects tougher measures, because the federal states have “not yet used all the options” that exist to contain the virus.

The federal and state governments could adopt drastic contact restrictions at a meeting. However, it is unclear whether the countries can agree on strict measures. “A lockdown through agreements between the federal states is not a realistic scenario under these conditions,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff to “Spiegel”.

The traffic light parties could also change the Infection Protection Act again, as demanded, among other things, by the health ministers of the federal states. The traffic light parties actually want to prevent that, but at least the Green health expert Janosch Dahmen is campaigning for a correction. “The current emergency is very worrying. It was and is completely clear that the changes that have been made to the Infection Protection Act can at best be a first step,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. Without giving details, the Federal Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz tweeted on Saturday: “We will do everything that is necessary. There is nothing that cannot be taken into account.”

What do scientists ask for?

Scientists working with physicist Viola Priesemann from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen are calling for a legal basis for a kind of emergency circuit breaker and other far-reaching measures. “Particularly with regard to the new Omikron variant, this type of precaution is urgently required,” the statement said. The legal prerequisites for this would have to be created as quickly as possible. “The set of rules should be the same for all federal states in order to enable clear communication and planning.”

In addition to the bundle of emergency measures, the tracking of contacts in people with Omikron infection should “currently have absolute priority”. Sufficient staff and resources should be made available for this. A systematic genomic record is also necessary.

According to many scientists, Omikron increases the importance of vaccinations and contact restrictions. In order to curb the further spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and the possibly even more contagious Omikron variant, the Society for Virology (GfV) and the German Society for Immunology (DGfI) are calling for extensive contact restrictions and an increase in the vaccination rate, if necessary by introducing mandatory vaccination, as well as consistent booster vaccinations.

What measures have already been taken?

Air traffic and travel are the main routes for viruses to spread. Like many other countries, the federal government has reacted with travel restrictions. Entry from eight countries in southern Africa is drastically restricted. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi and Lesotho have been classified as virus variant areas since Sunday.

Airlines are essentially only allowed to carry German citizens or people living in Germany from there to Germany. A two-week quarantine obligation applies to those entering the country, which cannot be shortened by negative tests – including those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered.

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