Berlin The Executive Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) makes no secret of the seriousness of the situation: “The situation is highly dramatic, and it will now be important that action is taken quickly, that action is taken consistently,” she said on Wednesday evening after the federal states Round on the pandemic situation in Berlin.
In order to break the fourth corona wave, the federal and state governments are planning extensive measures, such as a large-scale “booster” vaccination campaign, compulsory vaccination in certain professions and stricter access rules.
“We can only defeat this virus with an effort made by society as a whole,” says the decision paper. Merkel regretted that the country could be in a better position “if the vaccination gap weren’t so big”. It is all the more important now to act decisively.
On Thursday morning, the Bundestag passed the amendment to the Infection Protection Act with the votes of the SPD, FDP and the Greens. The key point is that the “epidemic of national importance” expires on November 25th. At the same time, however, there should be a catalog of new measures, such as a 3G rule in the workplace.
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The Union-led states consider the end of the epidemic situation to be a mistake, as North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) emphasized after the Bund-Länder round. One is “very, very close to the point we never wanted to get to” – namely that the intensive care unit has to decide which patients can still be treated.
An extension of the epidemic would have been “the best and most legally secure means,” said Wüst. Chancellor Merkel also emphasized that she did not consider the catalog of measures following the amendment to the Infection Protection Act to be sufficient to break the pandemic. That is why it is good and important that the reform is evaluated by the Prime Minister’s Conference on December 9th at the latest.
The federal and state governments agreed on a number of points, some of which are already contained in the amended Infection Protection Act.
The most important points at a glance
- The federal and state governments plan to take central corona measures from Hospitalization Rate Thresholds to make dependent. The value indicates how many corona patients per 100,000 people had to be hospitalized in the past seven days. Nationwide, the value is currently 5.3.
- From one Value of 3 In a federal state, access restrictions for unvaccinated people (2G) should apply to facilities, shops, events and restaurants.
- From one Value of 6 the 2G-plus rule should apply, in which vaccinated and convalescent people also need a daily negative test.
- From one Value of 9 The countries can decide on more extensive corona measures, such as contact restrictions, the cancellation of major events such as Christmas markets and the closing of clubs. This was particularly important to the Union.
- In addition, the federal government is requested to quickly create a Compulsory vaccination for employees in medical professions to implement. “We have to protect the vulnerable groups in particular,” says the decision paper. And further: “The federal states consider it necessary that members of the healing and nursing professions and all employees in hospitals and facilities for the disabled are obliged to get vaccinated against the coronavirus due to the close contact with vulnerable people.”
- In addition, everyone should Test employees and visitors in nursing homes on a daily basis permit.
- in the local and long-distance public transport should it be a 3G rule give. At the start of the journey, the test must not be more than 24 hours old. For the stricter controls, the states should “exhaust” the range of fines, for their part increase the control density and punish violations decisively.
- For Work in the company is also the 3G rule intended. The employers should check this, get a right to information and should offer free tests at least twice a week.
- It is also a large-scale one Booster vaccination campaign planned. The goal: 27 million booster vaccinations over the next five weeks. To this end, the federal states should increasingly use mobile vaccination teams and vaccination centers. Hospitals are also to be included.
With the rules, the federal and state governments want to turn the tide in the worsening corona situation. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported more than 65,000 new infections on Thursday, the seven-day incidence climbed to 319.6, and more than 3,300 corona patients are now being treated in the intensive care units.
According to the resolution, all citizens should be able to receive a booster vaccination from the fifth month after obtaining full vaccination protection. “That really takes a lot of effort,” stressed Merkel. It was not until Thursday that the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) made a recommendation for a booster vaccination for all adults whose second vaccination was usually six months ago.
In order to achieve the goal of almost 30 million booster vaccinations by the end of the year, more vaccinations would have to be carried out per day – excluding Christmas – than at the heyday of the vaccination campaign in the summer, when a million people were vaccinated per day.
There is still a long way to go before then. In the past few days there has been an increasing number of reports from those interested in a booster vaccination who have been sent away by doctors or who have not been given an appointment in the coming weeks.
Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) also made a dramatic appeal to everyone who had not been vaccinated so far: The reason why the vaccination campaign is not making progress is “that there is too much selfishness and too much indifference”. Protecting yourself and others is “vital,” said Müller.
Union wanted to keep lockdowns open
Central topics were controversial at the summit until the very end. The Union had criticized the fact that the amended Infection Protection Act still allows low-threshold corona measures and closings of leisure facilities such as clubs and the cancellation of major events, but no longer nationwide lockdowns with closed shops and schools.
The Union had therefore threatened to block the traffic light law. With the planned state opening clause, which grants the states more rights from a high hospitalization rate, nothing should stand in the way of the Union’s approval of the law in the Federal Council on Friday, it said.
For a long time, skepticism in parts of the traffic light groups also met with a compulsory vaccination for staff in care facilities or hospitals. Critics feared that even more employees would then withdraw from their jobs and the shortage of personnel would worsen.
Chancellor Merkel said that the federal government would “shortly determine how we should behave” in response to the demands of the federal states to rapidly introduce compulsory vaccinations for certain occupational groups. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who wants to replace Merkel as head of government in a traffic light coalition, said that the openness on this issue was very high and that it would also “reach into the next government”. However, a careful legislative process is required here.
To accelerate the booster vaccinations, the civil protection and the technical relief organization would have offered support, said Merkel. In Germany, according to the RKI, only around 5.7 percent of the population received a third vaccination – so far mainly in doctor’s offices. According to the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance (ZI), general practitioners accounted for 72 percent of the vaccinations.
“The vaccination rate is mainly determined by the resident doctors and continues to increase,” said ZI boss Dominik Stillfried the Handelsblatt. “It is important to continue to support this now.” In addition to the support of the federal states, for example through mobile vaccination teams, what is needed above all is reliable framework conditions. “The clear focus on the vulnerable groups is crucial for November and December,” said Stillfried. “The capacities for this are given, there is sufficient vaccine.”
The federal and state governments are now planning to massively expand their vaccination offers – in addition to mobile vaccination teams, hospitals and vaccination centers are also explicitly mentioned. To this end, the federal government should ensure financial support until April 2022.
Merkel and the Prime Ministers emphasized that there was no more time to lose. The days until November 25th still offer every chance to use the current possibilities of the Infection Protection Act, said Berlin’s Governing Mayor Müller.
The Chancellor stressed that measures introduced by then could still apply until December 15th. This is particularly important for Saxony. In the eastern German state, the seven-day incidence on Thursday reached 761.
More: Booster vaccination for everyone aged 18 and over – the most important questions and answers