Berlin (dpa) – Given the persistently high corona rates, the temporary relaxation of contact restrictions around Christmas and New Year is again at stake.
There are more and more warnings from the ranks of the Union and the SPD not to take unnecessary risks. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) said Saturday that advances in vaccines meant that there was “light at the end of the tunnel.” However, the fight against the pandemic is likely to drag on for months. Health Minister Jens Spahn (also CDU) expects massive vaccinations in Germany by the summer.
Contrary to popular belief, the number of new infections is still at a high level about five weeks after the partial lockdown took effect. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), health authorities reported 23,318 new infections within one day on Saturday. A week ago, the value was 21,695. With 483 new deaths, the highest level since the outbreak of the pandemic was just missed. This is why concern is growing that as the holidays relax, the numbers will skyrocket.
The deputy leader of the SPD group, Bärbel Bas, told the German news agency: “If the figures remain at this high level until December 20, the measures should not be relaxed during the holidays. The current restrictions should then apply until January. Saar Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) told the Augsburger Allgemeine that with comparable figures there should be no relaxation on New Year’s Eve. The Bavarian cabinet wants to discuss tightening on Sunday.
Contact restrictions have been in effect since the beginning of November; on December 1 they were tightened up in almost all federal states. Private gatherings with friends, family and acquaintances are now limited to five participants from a maximum of two households. Children up to 14 years are excluded. However, in view of the holidays, the federal and state governments have agreed to allow ten people and children to attend family gatherings from December 23 to January 1. However, not all federal states participate in this relaxation.
The hope of many now rests on an early vaccination. Merkel said in her weekly video podcast, “After more than nine months of the pandemic, we are now seeing light at the end of the tunnel.” There is hope that one or more vaccines will be available very soon. “Then we can beat the virus step by step.” Merkel also added that it wouldn’t be a matter of a few months.
Spahn told the news portal t-online that there were a total of five vaccines that would be approved with a “certain likelihood” by mid-year. In addition to Biontech / Pfizer and Moderna developments, it also included products from Curevac, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Millions of German citizens could be immune to vaccinations in the spring. When asked whether Germany had had the worst in the autumn, the minister replied: “If use the vaccination offer as much as possible: yes.”
The German Patient Protection Foundation warned against too high expectations. Board member Eugen Brysch told the German news agency. “The message” Anyone vaccinated cannot contract Covid-19 and is immune “is incorrect.” The coalition had determined by law that the federal government can establish the rules for vaccination by regulation. Here are mentioned groups at risk – the elderly and the sick -, health care workers and in central areas of public interest.
According to an elaboration of the Scientific Services of the Bundestag, vaccination against the coronavirus via regulations is not the right way. The document available to the DPA reads: “The prevailing view that the prioritization of certain populations for access to vaccines requires a formal law regulating at least the essential criteria for the distribution of a scarce vaccine must be approved.”