Many federal states are relaxing the measures on Sunday
Berlin The one from the Federal government targeted “return to normality” getting closer. People still have to show their vaccination or test certificates in restaurants, bars and cafés. People continue to wear masks in supermarkets, shops and schools. These rules will no longer apply in many federal states on Sunday.
On Tuesday, most federal states decided not to make use of the so-called hotspot rule. It allows the stricter measures, which are actually due to expire with the new Infection Protection Act, to be applied in regions that are particularly affected. Only general protective rules, such as the obligation to wear masks and tests in facilities such as clinics and nursing homes, remain permitted.
Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia declared on Tuesday that they wanted to dispense with a nationwide hotspot rule. Hesse and Lower Saxony had previously declared that they did not want to make use of it. In the state of Thuringia, the decision is still pending.
>> Also read here: Karl Lauterbach is pushing for a fourth vaccination for those over 60
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However, the background is less the pandemic situation. In view of the high number of cases, many federal states still consider it necessary to wear masks indoors. However, they doubt that the hotspot rule will stand up in court. Among other things, the law lacks clear criteria according to which the rule can be applied. The general requirement is that there is a risk of the clinic capacity being overloaded.
The federal states are thus also going against the recommendation of the Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD), who called on Monday to make use of the hotspot rule. “We’re losing time, we have to act now,” he said after the meeting of federal and state health ministers. The rule is legally secure and applicable. He gave an example Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg, which announced as one of the few federal states that they want to apply the rule across the board.
VdK criticizes “negligent” politics
“We weighed that up carefully and looked at each individual district,” Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Health Minister Stefanie Drese (SPD) defended the step. In addition to the high incidence, there are many patients in the hospitals – both in the normal and in the intensive care units. “In addition, there is a high loss of staff due to staff who are ill themselves.”
Drese would like more backing from the federal government for the hotspot decision so that the federal states are now interpreting the Federal Infection Protection Act regionally. A nationwide regulation is desirable, but waiting for it is currently not possible from their point of view. “It’s just not the time to wait for the numbers that we currently have for new infections.”
It is quite possible in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to lift the hotspot regulation for some districts before the end of April, Drese said. “But it’s part of seeing the peak of infections. So that the number of infections is decreasing and the hospitals are taking in fewer patients again.” At the moment, new ones are being added every day.
Verena Bentele, President of the social association VdK, sharply criticized the foreseeable expiry of most of the measures in many places. “The federal government’s corona policy is negligent,” she said on Tuesday. She called for the mask requirement in shops to be extended beyond April 2nd.
>> Also read here: Virologist Drosten warns: “We don’t have an infection-free summer”
“Many people with a chronic illness, a disability, but also older people are afraid in view of the current up to 300,000 new infections per day with Corona contagious,” she said. The government is repeating past mistakes from which it should have learned long ago. The pandemic will by no means be over after the summer.
Minister of Health Lauterbach had called on shops to at least order a mask requirement by house rules where this expires. However, most German retailers want to refrain from doing so. “The official pandemic measures are specified by the federal states and municipalities – we implement the orders made by the authorities accordingly,” replied, for example rewespokesman for a request from the Handelsblatt.
Retailers do not want to enforce the mask requirement by domiciliary rights
Also the Black groupto which the chains Lidl and Kaufland belong, emphasized that it is fundamentally based on the regulations of the federal states, the respective regionally applicable general decrees and the Corona Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, and implements them accordingly.
However, this also means that there will be a regional patchwork quilt for retailers operating nationwide, because individual federal states use the hotspot regulation and continue to demand the mask. This could be particularly colorful at Edeka: Most of the markets there are run by independent merchants who can decide for themselves whether they want to keep wearing masks.
Significantly more cautious expresses himself Aldi north. Where the regulations continue to provide for a mask requirement as a protective measure, the company will definitely implement this, a spokesman assures, but adds: “Where this is not the case, we reserve the right to recommend it to employees and customers, which is still voluntary to wear a mask.”
The industry repeatedly emphasizes that wearing a mask dampens consumer sentiment and thus also reduces sales. “Retailers report that the obligation to wear masks in the shop costs them ten percent of sales because it spoils the desire for many customers to shop,” says Stefan Genth, general manager of the trade association Germany (HDE) the Handelsblatt. However, this applies less to the food trade than, for example, to fashion shops.
Because the retailers are so differently affected by this question, the HDE is reluctant to make its own assessment of the mask requirement and leaves the assessment to the individual companies. In the past, however, the HDE had repeatedly referred to the mask requirement as a “suitable hygiene measure” when it rejected the 2G regulation.
More: “Losing time”: Lauterbach hopes for more hotspot federal states