Relaxation of Corona requirements: A question of the right time

Status: 05.02.2022 1:53 p.m

While other countries are canceling corona measures, the discussion about easing is only really picking up speed in Germany. The conditions must be right for the exit, it is said. A date is already circulating.

The seven-day incidence of the spread of the corona virus in Germany is currently climbing to a new high every day. And yet politicians are increasingly focusing on the question: When and how can the measures to fight the pandemic be dropped?

There is talk of “opening steps”, as Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder of the CSU called it. Or an “exit strategy” that the designated FDP Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai is hoping for. And according to the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, the time has come to talk about easing. In her view, this should happen at the next federal-state meeting, which is scheduled for February 16. Then there must be “clever ideas for relief,” said the SPD politician in the “Rheinische Post”.

The date for the renewed consultations between the federal government and the prime ministers was not chosen by chance: Doctors and scientists expect the current corona wave to peak in mid-February and the number of infections could then drop again.

No loosening before Easter?

And that is precisely where the catch lies in the growing discussion about easing – falling infection rates and a stable or low burden on hospitals and the health system make politics unanimously a basic prerequisite for the abolition of requirements.

Winfried Kretschmann can only imagine easing if the infection process and the situation in the clinics allow it. The emphasized the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Deutschlandfunk. At the moment he thinks it is premature to exit the restrictions – and from his point of view it will take a while until that happens. About two and a half months to be exact, because the Green politician does not expect possible easing until Easter. Then the holidays would come, which would at least temporarily eliminate schools as “big carriers of infection”.

Think about it, but don’t implement it yet

Medical representatives also warn against becoming more relaxed too early. In an interview with the “Augsburger Allgemeine”, the Munich infectiologist Clemens Wendtner said: You can think about opening steps, “but you shouldn’t implement them just yet”. Because, statistically speaking, 0.5 percent of newly infected people are still seriously ill – even if, according to studies, the omicron variant usually causes a milder course of the disease than, for example, the delta variant of the virus. But this 0.5 percent still meant more than 1,000 people affected who became seriously ill every day.

In addition, Wendter points to the persistently high burden on hospitals: The utilization of the intensive care beds is “not the whole truth either”. Because at Omikron “instead, the normal stations are required to a high degree,” emphasizes Wendter.

Transitional regulations with expiration date

But the currently applicable Corona requirements are already provided with a time stamp – at least in legal terms. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health confirmed to the dpa news agency that the legal basis for the measures would expire on March 19 if the Bundestag did not take the opportunity to extend them once by three months.

Back in October, Marco Buschmann, then Parliamentary Secretary of the FDP and now Federal Minister of Justice, promised that all measures would expire on March 20th. The background was the transitional regulations developed by the traffic light parties, which came into force after the end of the epidemic emergency in November.

And even now, some of the coalition partners are still sticking to the targeted date: “Over the next few weeks, we will take our time to see whether it is even necessary to extend the corona protection measures beyond March 19,” said the parliamentary secretary, for example the SPD parliamentary group, Johannes Fechner, the “Welt”.

The first countries are overturning conditions

But the first federal states are already pushing ahead with easing. Hesse recently overturned the 2G regulation in retail, while in other federal states this was done by court order. And even outside of Germany, some countries are putting an end to the restrictions. In Denmark, most of the corona measures have already been canceled and Sweden also wants to lift most of the requirements in the coming week.

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