Berlin (dpa) – Further masks, more vaccinations, possible new restrictions: Before the consultation between Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Prime Minister in the coming week, the battle for the Corona course for autumn and winter began.
Because in the middle of the relatively relaxed summer weeks for most citizens, new infections are spreading alarmingly fast again. Department of Health Department Head Jens Spahn (CDU) has now put forward proposals — and listed them in a report that has gone to the Bundestag and states to keep the fourth wave flat. Above all, possible restrictions for the unvaccinated cause discussion.
The increasing number of infections is “a warning,” said deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer in Berlin on Wednesday. “Our goal should be to avoid another hard lockdown.” With distance and masks, everyone would have it in their hands to influence the course of the pandemic. She did not comment on possible new measures. The ministry’s report was “a basis for discussion” for Tuesday’s state round decisions. And that’s a delicate issue about six weeks before the general election: which steps make sense when, for whom, and also gain wider acceptance in the hot phase of the election campaign?
The Ministry of Health writes in the report available to the German news agency: “The tools are there. We just have to use it.” Due to the advanced vaccination campaign, the protective measures in the autumn and winter can now be “more moderate” than last year. “Such a drastic lockdown as in the second and third wave will most likely not be necessary” , the report says. An overview of suggestions and responses:
“A fourth wave is on the way – albeit (!) at a low level,” is the estimate. There is talk of an “increased influx of infections from returning travelers”. Moreover, the “contact behavior of the population is gradually approaching the behavior of the time before the pandemic”. In the fall and winter there would also be seasonal enhancing effects. So the question is, “How high will this fourth wave get? That is now decided.”
53 percent of all residents are now fully vaccinated, 62 percent at least once. However, 32 million citizens have not yet been vaccinated, including nine million children for whom there is no approved vaccine. According to models from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), it makes a decisive difference in terms of stress at clinics if the percentage of fully vaccinated people is more than 90 percent for the over-60s and the over-75s for 12-59 percent. These quotas are currently just below 80 percent and 48 percent. “This shows how important it is to step up efforts to further increase vaccination coverage.” Because the vaccination is massively flattening the curve, the ministry explains.
The basic protection
In addition, “consistent and incidence-independent” measures such as distance and mask-wear are necessary – wherever there are many people in closed rooms who do not know their vaccination status or who may be particularly vulnerable. Medical masks should therefore remain mandatory “until spring 2022” in all areas of local, long-haul transport and retail. That is, «for everyone, including those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered».
Vaccination and testing had a very high chance of preventing people with large, contagious viral loads from entering a room, the report said. Regardless of the incidence, participation in certain events from early / mid-September should “generally only be possible in accordance with the 3G rule (3G: vaccinated, recovered or tested)”: indoor catering, hotel accommodation, body-hugging services such as such hairdressing, indoor and outdoor sports and events, large indoor and outdoor events.
Measures for non-vaccinated persons
For unvaccinated people in particular, further restrictions may be necessary, depending on vaccination coverage, incidence and number of serious clinical cases above certain thresholds, the ministry writes. This included contact restrictions and the restriction or exclusion from participation for non-vaccinated persons for events and the hospitality industry (“2G instead of 3G”) – including with a negative test. There were immediate protests from the opposition. FDP Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki warned in the Bild newspaper (Wednesday) that this would mean mandatory vaccination. Leftist leader Susanne Hennig-Wellsow demanded in the “Welt” that it should remain possible to “do all activities that are allowed for vaccinated people with an accompanying test certificate”.
The ministry explains in the report: “In general, vaccinated and recovering people can and should no longer be subject to the same restrictions as unvaccinated people because of the significantly reduced risk to themselves and others.” Government spokeswoman Demmer emphasized: “We do not want mandatory vaccination, not even through the back door.”
Given the declining demand for vaccinations, there is debate about whether people should pay something for testing in the future – including as an incentive for people who could get vaccinated for free. The ministry is now proposing to end the free rapid tests by mid-October. Only for people who cannot be vaccinated or for whom there is no general vaccination advice, such as pregnant women or under the age of 18, should free tests continue to exist. Since March, the federal government has taken on the cost of rapid tests for everyone. Left Federal Director Jörg Schindler demanded in the papers of the Funke media group: “As long as there are testing obligations, there should be free tests.” An ending would be “extremely antisocial”.