Berlin (dpa) – The lockdown to combat the corona pandemic in Germany will be extended to March 28 due to the persistently high number of infections.
However, there should be many opening options depending on the infection situation. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime ministers of the state have negotiated this in more than nine hours. A step-by-step opening strategy with a built-in emergency brake was agreed: If individual detachments lead to a sharp increase in the number of infections in a region, all eases made there are automatically canceled.
Federal and state governments have recognized that there is a strong desire for relaxation among citizens and businesses. However, they referred to the still high number of new infections and the emergence of the virus variants considered to be particularly contagious. There was clear criticism of the resolutions from both the opposition and the municipal level.
Germany has shown strength in its response to the second wave of the pandemic, Merkel said after the deliberations. “And now it is up to politicians to take the next steps wisely. There must be steps to open up and at the same time steps that will not bring us back into the pandemic. “In Europe there are many examples of a” dramatic third wave, “said the Chancellor.
However, Merkel stressed, “The spring of 2021 will be different from the spring of a year ago.” There are now two strong helpers in fighting the pandemic: the vaccines and the extensive testing capabilities.
The Chancellor made it clear that the vaccination campaign must be accelerated. “We think we still have room for improvement here,” she said. It has been agreed that the GPs and specialist practices will be fully involved in the vaccination campaign at the end of March / beginning of April. Starting next week, there will be free quick tests – at least one per week for each citizen -. The federal government wants to cover the costs. Federal and state governments also expect companies, as a contribution to society as a whole, to offer their attending employees at least one free quick test per week.
Next Monday, after the resolutions, the very limited possibilities for private contact must be relaxed. Then it is again possible to have private meetings between your own household and another household, but limited to a maximum of five people. In regions with a seven-day incidence of less than 35 new infections per week, you can also meet your own household with two other households with a total of up to ten people. Children up to 14 years of age are exempt from this. So far, a household can meet at most one person from another household.
After the first openings at schools and hairdressers, bookstores, flower shops and garden centers will follow in a second step. These are already open in individual countries, but this should now be allowed nationally. The condition is that hygiene concepts and a customer limit are respected. Driving and flying schools can also resume their activities under certain conditions.
There may be other limited gaps in regions where the incidence of only 100 new infections per 100,000 population is lower than the seven-day incidence. In addition to retail appointment shopping, museums, galleries, zoos, botanical gardens, and memorials can then open to visitors with an appointment booking. Individual sports alone or in pairs and sports in groups of a maximum of ten children up to 14 years in the outdoor area must therefore be allowed. With a stable seven-day incidence of less than 50, the requirements are dropped or weakened. Then contactless sports in small groups in the open air should be possible again.
According to the decision, the next opening steps are made conditional on the previous phase not leading to a worsening of the seven-day incidence for 14 days. After that, it primarily involves opening outdoor catering, cinemas, theaters, concert and opera houses, but also contactless indoor sports and outdoor contact sports. In the next step, more sports and leisure events are on the agenda. Again, up to an incidence of 100, higher requirements should apply, such as daily tests or mandatory booking, which will lapse with a seven-day incidence of up to 50 new infections.
FDP Chairman Christian Lindner reacted disappointed to the decisions. “For the federal government, the lockdown is apparently the only conceivable recipe. With innovative concepts, more social and economic life would be possible, ”he told the newspapers of the Funke media group. Left party leader Dietmar Bartsch told the Funke-Blätter: “Corona maze instead of clear roadmap: the decisions in fighting pandemics are difficult to understand. Today we have seen a chaos of incidence and relaxation that will upset the citizen. “
The German Association of Cities and Municipalities called the resolutions on the corona tests too vague. «The organization lies with the federal states and municipalities. How the self-tests should fit into the system, how the evidence is documented, how long it should allow certain accesses, has unfortunately not yet been answered “, says CEO Gerd Landsberg of the” Rheinische Post “.