In the fight against a fourth corona wave in Germany, unvaccinated people must be prepared for more testing obligations – and rapid tests from October 11 they usually also have to pay for themselves. The federally funded offer for free “citizen tests” for everyone expires October 10. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime ministers of the federal states agreed on this during the deliberation on Tuesday, the German news agency learned from various sources among the participants. A final agreement on the entire resolution memorandum on the corona rate for autumn and winter was still pending. Declared goal: get more people vaccinated as soon as possible – and prevent another lockdown.
“Anyone who has not been vaccinated will have to be tested regularly if they meet other people indoors,” according to one of the drafts for the state group available to the dpa. Because the infection percentage is now increasing rapidly after the low level in the summer. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days is now 23.5 – the day before the seven-day incidence was 23.1, the most recent low a month ago 4.9.
TESTING: Getting tested before going to a restaurant or a holiday trip is foreseeably more complicated – including prompting more vaccinations, which are free and usually make extra testing unnecessary. Since anyone can now be offered an immediate vaccination offer, taxpayers should not permanently bear the cost of all the tests, the draft said. Rapid tests should only be available free of charge to people who cannot be vaccinated or for whom there is no general vaccination recommendation, such as pregnant women and people under the age of 18.
The reigning mayor of Berlin and chairman of the conference of ministerial presidents, Michael Müller (SPD), explained before the round on ZDF in view of the switch in mid-October: “Then everyone has eight weeks from now to get vaccinated. The federal government has been funding at least one rapid test per week for all citizens since March, which has already cost more than three billion euros. In the future, people will have to pay a “reasonable price” themselves, the government had stated. For your reference: For test providers, the compensation has been reduced to 11.50 euros for material costs and test acceptance as of 1 July.
VACCINATION: The federal and state governments wanted to make a renewed appeal to now accept vaccination options that are easily accessible everywhere — and as soon as possible. “If you want to have full vaccination protection in the fall, you need to start vaccinating now,” the draft read. 45.8 million people or 55.1 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated. In view of the more contagious variant of the Delta virus, however, this is not yet sufficient for basic protection for the entire society. “We have enough vaccine for all age groups,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). According to the federal government, the promised summer offer for everyone is now here – but the pace of vaccination is slowing.
PROTECTIVE MEASURES: There was no discussion about keeping the basic protection, hygiene and mask requirement at bay in some areas: on buses, trains or shops. In addition, there were uniform requirements aimed at embedding the “3G rule” for access to certain indoor spaces: in other words, only those who have been vaccinated, recovered or have recently tested negative are allowed to enter or participate. According to the concept, this could apply to clinics, nursing homes, indoor catering, indoor events, church services, at the hairdresser’s, but also to fitness studios, swimming pools or sports halls. In the case of housing, there may be a test on arrival and then twice a week.
According to the concept, this could start in August – the exact date was not yet known. Rapid tests not older than 24 hours or more precise PCR tests that could be up to 48 hours ago would thus be possible. According to the draft, fully vaccinated, convalescent and school students from the age of 6, who are nevertheless regularly tested, would be excluded. It was also discussed that the states can suspend the 3G rule if the infection rate remains stable.
THE CORONA FRAMEWORK: It became clear that an important legal basis must remain – the “epidemic of national concern”. Health ministers of all countries also voted unanimously on Monday to extend the Bundestag after September 11. Parliament had last done so on 11 June – without another vote, the special situation would end after three months. It gives the federal government the right to issue direct regulations, for example on tests and vaccinations. According to the Infection Act, measures by the federal states such as mask requirements or contact restrictions also relate to the determination of this special situation.
The draft also stated that the federal and state governments wanted to agree on “further measures” if efforts during vaccination and testing were not sufficient to control the infection process. To this end, «all indicators» must be closely monitored, in particular the incidence, but also the vaccination coverage, the serious disease progression and the burden on the health system, was emphasized in the design.