Chancellor wants a “day of freedom” like in other countries Olaf Scholz do not speak. At their Corona summit, however, he and the prime ministers of the federal states insisted that almost all corona measures should expire on March 19. And until then they will be relaxed in two steps – for example the contact restrictions or the access rules in the catering trade. This emerges from the decision on which Scholz and the state heads of government have agreed.
But that doesn’t mean that everything will happen exactly the same way and at the same time everywhere. Because the federal states are responsible for the regulations on infection protection – and they often deviate from the line that they supported themselves at the federal-state meetings. An example: Bavaria already wrote the end of the contact restrictions for vaccinated people in its regulation on Tuesdaywhich was only set as a nationwide uniform line on Wednesday.
First opening step
Contact restrictions: For everyone who has been vaccinated against Corona or has recovered from an infection, there should soon be no more contact restrictions at private meetings. The federal and state governments are planning this as the first opening step. These people – and that’s most of them in Germany – can meet whoever they want, as long as these people are all vaccinated or have recovered. For those who have not been vaccinated, the following should continue to apply until March 19: they may only meet with a maximum of two people from another household. Children up to the age of 14 are not counted.
2G in retail: The previous access rules for shops are to be completely eliminated. However, this has little impact, since most federal states have already abolished the 2-G rule in retail anyway. However, you must continue to wear a medical mask when shopping, an FFP2 mask is recommended.
The resolution contains a clause that grants the states some freedom: In areas “that have little or no supra-regional impact”, they should make decisions “on their own responsibility”. They have always done this formally, but the fact that it is now being emphasized gives the state governments room for argument.
Second step of opening on March 4th
Gastronomy and hotels: From March 4th, unvaccinated people should be allowed to go back to restaurants if they present a current negative corona test. 3 G should then also apply in the hotels. The previously closed clubs and discos should be allowed to reopen with a 2-G-Plus control – that means: Only those who have been vaccinated and recovered and also submit a test or who have received a booster vaccination are allowed in.
Major events: More audiences should be allowed in stadiums or halls again: up to 25,000 spectators (in a maximum of three quarters of the seats) are allowed outdoors, and up to 6,000 (maximum 60 percent of the seats) spectators inside. 2 G or 2 G Plus should apply here.
However, this second opening step is subject to the proviso that the hospitals are not full of corona patients.
Third opening step on March 20th
In a final step, from March 20th, all “more profound” measures are omitted, “if the situation in the hospitals allows it,” says the decision. The obligation for companies to allow their employees to work from home will then no longer apply.
Since the Infection Protection Act was amended accordingly by the SPD, Greens and FDP in November, the previous options for the federal states to impose corona measures expired on March 19. But it needs more “Basic Protection Measures”, it says in the decision. These include hygiene regulations, mandatory tests in certain areas, a mask requirement in closed rooms and in local transport or special requirements for old people’s homes or clinics. The federal government should now quickly adopt a new legal basis for this. It should also contain further regulations for regions in which the health system is overloaded due to the high number of infections. And should the general situation get significantly worse again, the federal government should make more extensive regulations again.
recovered status: Who is considered to be vaccinated or recovered and, above all, for how long, is no longer to be decided by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), but by the federal government within the framework of a regulation that the federal states are also consulted on when it is being drawn up. The reason: When the RKI reduced the convalescent status to three months in January without communicating this in advance, there was also great resentment in politics.
High risk areas: Here the federal government should issue a new classification of which countries count as high-risk areas. The background is: In many countries around the world, the number of infections has risen sharply, which is why those returning from vacation often suddenly fell under a quarantine obligation. This is a problem, especially for families whose children have not yet been vaccinated.
Vaccinate: “A high vaccination rate is the basic requirement in order to be able to permanently do without infection protection measures and to accept a seasonal increase in the number of infections,” says the federal-state decision. That is why we are still in favor of a general obligation to vaccinate. All 16 countries and he agree on this, said Chancellor Scholz after the meeting. The paper makes no mention of a central vaccination register, as desired by the countries led by the Union. That is technically complicated and takes a long time, said Scholz. You have to check compulsory vaccination in other ways – and that works too.
Job-related compulsory vaccination: There was a lot of trouble last week when Bavaria announced that it would suspend compulsory vaccination for employees in care and healthcare, which will apply from March 15th. Bavaria’s argument: the federal government refuses to issue general implementation instructions, and there are fears that there will be many layoffs in an area that is already tense in terms of personnel. The resolution now contains a compromise: the federal and state governments are in an “intensive coordination process”. The health authorities would have discretion as to what should happen to unvaccinated nurses, for example. “A ban on entry is the last step. Therefore, such bans on entry will not automatically come into effect immediately and across the board.” You can also impose a fine at your discretion.
Better data: In the fight against corona, it has been shown time and again that there is a lack of reliable data on current events. It is therefore remarkable that the heads of government are now, two years after the outbreak of the pandemic, instructing their health ministers to record the relevant figures “age-dependent, up-to-date, regionalized and of good quality” and to transmit them to a central office.
At the March 17, 2022 the federal-state group wants to come together again.