Traffic light timing looks really bad. RKI reported more than 260,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day on Wednesday morning. The infection rate rises to more than 1,600, a European record. In addition to 269 other deaths due to Corona in just 24 hours.
However, the new Infection Protection Law, which the Bundestag first discussed on Wednesday, must include far-reaching preventive measures such as the obligation to wear masks in supermarkets, restaurants and stores. Even 2G restrictions should be the only exception.
The same continuous force of the omicron wave is also shown in the Bundestag. Bundestag President Barbel Bass (SPD) has contracted the virus and is missing, as well as her deputies Wolfgang Kupecki (FDP), Aidan Ozoguz (Social Democratic Party) and Yvonne Maguas (CDU).
“You have to make do with my colleague Petra Pau and myself this week,” Vice President Catherine Goering Eckart said at the start of the meeting. The politician from the Green Party appealed to MPs, many of whom are also absent due to Corona, to consider harassment to ensure a tight session. Call fades quickly.
It’s a heated debate with a lot of harassment. There are loud annoying calls, particularly from the AfD, whose unvaccinated deputies no longer have to sit on the so-called “plague grandstand” for the first time.
Just a few minutes later, the union stops the session and wants to summon Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) to the plenum. But there is no majority. The minister, who had been criticized for the bill he negotiated with Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, was 15 minutes late.
What are the criticisms of the law?
At this point, the federation is already dismantling the Traffic Lights Act. “This draft leaves you somewhat dazed,” says Union Parliamentary Secretary Hendrik Hobenstedt. He considers it irresponsible that the mask application and testing system are only possible in hospitals, medical practices, buses, trains and planes.
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The hotspot regulation, under which state parliaments can declare federal states, cities or municipalities as hotspots and thus introduce stricter rules if case numbers increase and hospitalization rates rise, is “not a lifesaver.” “How should the state parliament monitor each individual community and each hospital on site,” Hoppenstedt says.
Some state parliaments, such as Berlin, meet only every two weeks. In other states, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, there are more than 50 independent regional authorities. “Bad craftsmanship, a disaster in terms of substance,” said the left’s deputy leader Ates Gurpinar.
Clear doubts about their draft law could also be heard from the coalition on Wednesday. “This is not the best democratic hour, but this is democracy,” says Sonia Eschwede, an SPD member of parliament from Brandenburg.
You have to weigh protection and the consequences of restrictions on freedom, says Maria Klein Schmink, a green health politician. She said frankly in the direction of the FDP that her party was not satisfied with the compromise, and that improvements might be necessary.
Health policy spokeswoman Christine Aschenberg-Dognus makes an emotional appeal to recruiting on behalf of the Liberals: “We’re not in the same situation we were two years ago,” she says, listing vaccines, medications and knowledge about the virus. You have to learn to live with the dreaded virus and rely on personal responsibility.
“We don’t want a mask ban,” Aschenberg-Dugnus said, noting that it makes sense to wear a mask in supermarkets. In the end, she did not receive any applause from the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party. The law is expected to be passed definitively on Friday.
What dangers do virologists see?
“I think the current course of government is wrong,” Frankfurt-based virologist Martin Stürmer tells Tagesspiegel newspaper. “It completely ignores the current infection process and is very interested in mitigation.”
Infection intensity in high-risk groups increases again, while at the same time the vaccination rate is stagnant at less than 80 percent. “Many procedures are being canceled in countries. If this is not counterproductive, we are just lucky.”
The easing comes too early for the strikers: “The legal basis for the Corona catalog of measures could have simply been extended by three months, then we were in the warm season and the numbers would have gone down.”
Virologist Melanie Brinkman has a similar view. With the widespread use of effective vaccines, which fortunately also protect against Omicron variant infection against serious diseases, Germany has a very good way to return to a high degree of normalcy. However, only vaccinated people are effectively protected, while unvaccinated people are not. In particular, the still high proportion of unvaccinated people means that nowadays many people are seriously ill and many are dying. Those at high risk are the unvaccinated, people who cannot build up adequate immune protection, as is relatively common in the elderly.
Hospital numbers can rise again
“If more precautions are not taken, the number of hospitalizations is likely to continue to rise again. I see the danger here in the potential for regional bottlenecks in healthcare again.” For these reasons, she believes it makes sense to maintain measures such as risk-based testing and, in particular, to wear masks indoors.
“Masks reduce the amount of virus that is released – and also remains airborne for some time in poorly ventilated indoor spaces – and is contagious. Masks reduce the amount of virus that is inhaled by the recipient. Masks have been shown to be most effective when worn by both the sender and the recipient. So It is wise and reasonable to keep it inside – at least until the situation calms down in the long run.
“Even if this is not common news: the epidemic is not over yet and we have to find a good way to deal with this virus in the next few years.“
The virologist finds it particularly worrying that there is still no research on how Omikron is linked to Long Covid. Currently, about 260,000 people are infected every day, and we know that 10 to 15 percent of people with corona later develop Long Covid, even with mild cycles. That could mean 30,000 prolonged cases of Covid per day. That’s too much for me.”
How do countries interact?
Before the Infection Protection Act is passed on Friday, a federal state group will meet on Thursday. Because the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Fust, contracted coronavirus on a trip to Israel, he will head the MPK from the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – a one-time event.
In terms of content, trouble is foreseeable. “We cannot fight a reasonable fight against a pandemic like this,” Bavaria Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said in advance of the Bavarian state parliament.
Even Social Democrats such as Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stefan Weil have repeatedly criticized the anti-coronavirus relaxation plan. “Obviously, the pandemic is not over and will not be over by the beginning of April either. That is why we still need the previous set of tools after the transition period,” Weil said on Wednesday. The planned hotspot regulation is insufficient in light of the increasing number of infections and patients.
How did the Free Democratic Party prevail?
The SPD and the Greens have gambled away. The FDP had already argued in the fall that parliament and the federal government, together with heads of state, would no longer decide the course of Corona. The alliance now depends on the youngest partner – this dictates the terms.
If the SPD and the Greens had not agreed to a settlement, all Corona rules would have fallen on March 20. “We underestimated the ideological way in which the FDP negotiated Corona policy with great ideology,” says a Green Party parliamentarian.
Add to this the poor negotiating tactics of Health Minister Lauterbach. In talks with Attorney General Bushman, he wanted to keep the restored status at 90 days and not extend it to six months.
In return, Lauterbach had to make far-reaching concessions when masks were no longer mandatory. Against his beliefs as evidenced by his daily warnings on Twitter. But Lauterbach lost control.
What does this mean for compulsory vaccination?
This Thursday, the Bundestag will consider for the first time bills for or against compulsory vaccination. In the midst of light-hearted controversy, it is difficult to communicate, and supporters of compulsory vaccination, which are aimed at ensuring that Germany gets through the next winter, complain.
Four mass demands are on the table, and most supporters so far have a request for compulsory vaccination from the age of 18. More than 200 MPs, mostly from the Greens and the Social Democrats, support the proposal, but this is not enough for a parliamentary majority.
“I don’t want to rule out that we will reach another compromise in the parliamentary process,” said Green Party parliamentary secretary, Irene Mihalek.
Apparently, the authors of the application are ready to negotiate the vaccination record, which is especially important for the Federation. You will likely depend largely on the action in the second and third readings in the first week of April.
Typically, the most comprehensive legislative proposals are negotiated first, which would then be the compulsory vaccination request from age 18. If a majority is not found, its proponents can support the compulsory vaccination request from age 50, which is also supported by large parts of the FDP. But Mihalek does not want to cancel the compulsory vaccination from the age of 18: “He who is declared dead lives longer.”