Berlin (dpa) – Due to the persistently high number of infections and concerns about mutations in the coronavirus, the federal and state governments want to extend the lockdown in Germany.
The regulation, which is actually limited to the end of January, will be continued until February 14, the German news agency heard from both sides of the federal consultation on Tuesday. This means that restaurants, leisure facilities and shops are closed. Exceptions still apply to supermarkets, for example.
However, at the beginning of the evening, there was no agreement on an entire resolution note. Before the deliberations, the degree to which the lockdown needed to be tightened was controversial. SPD countries had announced a number of changes to a draft resolution previously sent to several countries. There was also an extension of the lockdown in schools until mid-February. According to information from dpa, it has been discussed for longer.
Discussions included a scheme for the wearing of medical masks such as FFP2 and surgical masks on buses and trains and in shops. Additionally, federal and state governments are considering putting more pressure on employers to allow for more home offices.
Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) intends to introduce binding requirements for the home office by means of a new regulation. The accompanying design, which also provides for stricter rules on the shop floor itself, has been submitted to the German news agency. Accordingly, employers with a so-called seven-day incidence of 50 or more should be required to “offer employees in the case of office work or similar activities to perform these activities at home (home office) if there are no compelling operational reasons for deviating from this. “.
In addition, a minimum surface area of ten square meters per employee in a room may not be undershot, “insofar as the work to be performed allows this”. The news portal “The Pioneer” had previously reported about it. However, the regulation also leaves room for maneuver. If the measures cannot be fully implemented, the employer must protect his employees through other measures, such as ventilation and separation between workplaces. In recent days, there have been calls to the business community to allow employees to work from home as much as possible, given the corona situation.
In a hearing with experts on Monday evening, several scientists had called for tougher lockdown measures. The editorial network Germany (RND) reported that they described the threat of the mutated virus.
Health authorities reported 11,369 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day on Tuesday morning. In addition, 989 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours, the RKI announced. Just one week ago, the RKI registered 12,802 new infections and 891 new deaths within 24 hours.
The contamination situation offers the first bright spots, but according to experts the numbers are still much too high to dare to relax. The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (incidence of seven days) is currently still more than 130 nationwide – the target value for health authorities to follow up is 50.
Virus variants such as B.1.1.7., Which according to their current status are much more contagious and which – probably at a relatively low level – are already circulating in Germany, are of concern. According to experts, lifting the lockdown would give them free rein.
The reigning mayor of Berlin and chairman of the prime minister’s conference, Michael Müller (SPD), spoke in advance in the ARD “Morgenmagazin” for a clearer reduction in the number of contacts. The goal is also to better protect people where distances cannot be maintained.
Criticism of the pandemic policy came from the opposition. On Tuesday, the FDP urged the Bundestag to participate in further decisions. “The most important questions have to be decided in parliament,” said FDP leader Christian Lindner in the ARD “morning magazine”. The measures under discussion concern far-reaching freedom restrictions. Therefore, the scientific basis, but also possible milder means should be discussed.
The left-wing parliamentary group called on the federal government to issue a government statement in the coming week of the Bundestag. In a letter to the head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, who received the DPA, Parliamentary Director Jan Korte accused the federal government of not involving parliament in the run-up to proposals to contain the pandemic.