Lockdown likely to be extended and tightened | Free press

Berlin (dpa) – Ahead of the federal state meeting on how to proceed with the corona pandemic next Tuesday, there are signs the lockdown will continue into February.

In some cases, however, there is still widespread disagreement about the exact tightening. As the German news agency learned from participants, the SPD countries announced a number of changes to a draft resolution previously sent to several countries. Corresponding papers were available to the DPA. Before the talks between the Prime Minister and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) were scheduled for 2pm, there were preliminary talks.

Among other things, there was talk of a stricter mask requirement in buses and trains and in shops. Additionally, federal and state governments are considering putting more pressure on employers to allow for more home offices.

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. Exactly a week ago, the RKI had 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 Conference of Prime Ministers, Michael Müller (SPD), spoke out beforehand against Germany-wide exit restrictions. Wherever the number of infections is very high and where the measure has proven itself, it will be possible to implement the restrictions, Müller said in the ARD morning magazine on Tuesday.

The important thing now is to respond to “a very aggressive mutation in the virus”. He noted that, compared to spring, significantly fewer employers offer home offices. “This creates traffic and contacts that simply need to be reduced even further.” Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) will make a proposal to end the mandatory presence for employees. Employers would then have to justify why employees should come to work, Müller said.

The MPK boss left the issue of the FFP2 mask requirement open, as it already exists in Bavaria. The aim is to provide better protection for people where distances cannot be sustained. Whether the FFP2 mask should be mandatory or whether the medical surgical masks would not suffice was the subject of negotiations. The invited experts had emphasized that even the simpler surgical masks would provide better protection than cloth covers.

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 party called on the federal government on Tuesday afternoon 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 having involved parliament in the run-up to the proposals to contain the pandemic.

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