German politicians call for COVID "exit strategy" ahead of summit

German politicians call for COVID "exit strategy" ahead of summit

The federal and state governments look set to decide to keep all current coronavirus restrictions in place at Monday’s summit. But with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 causing much milder courses of the disease, some politicians are saying the time has come to start considering an “exit strategy” to wind down restrictions. 

Politicians call for step-by-step loosening of restrictions in Germany

With COVID infections still skyrocketing in Germany (the seven-day incidence rate reached a new high of 806,8 on Monday morning), the federal government and the federal states will meet once again on Monday to discuss how to proceed in the pandemic. 

Despite the sky-high infection rates, a number of politicians from the FDP and CSU parties in particular are calling for the government to present a plan for restrictions to be relaxed. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt told Welt that he expected the ministers to come up with a clever strategy to “move out of the pandemic step by step.”

He added that the way Omicron has changed the course of the pandemic - higher infection rates, but lower mortality rates - means Germany must adjust its “assessment standards.” Stressing that the incidence rate cannot remain the primary benchmark for deciding new restrictions, Dobrindt said, “The central question must be: How burdened is the healthcare system?”

FDP calls for 2G and 2G plus rules to be scrapped

Christof Rasche, the head of FDP parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia, went further and demanded the easing of restrictions at large events and the abolition of 2G rules in retail and 2G plus rules in restaurants, pointing out that some courts have already overturned these rules. “We have to enable more normality in the short term,” he said. 

On Sunday, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities called on the federal and state governments to put together a step-by-step plan to relax coronavirus restrictions. “An exit strategy must be prepared now,” the association’s managing director, Gerd Landsberg, told RND. “In neighbouring countries, we can see that the pandemic will at some point reach its peak and then the numbers will drop again drastically and quickly.” 

Federal and state governments want to keep measures in place

All indications so far point to the federal and state governments maintaining their current course: no tightening of existing measures, but no relaxations for the time being - although they will apparently discuss a future reopening strategy on Monday, to be put into motion at some as-yet-undetermined date. 

A draft resolution for the summit states: “The federal government will develop opening perspectives for the moment when an overload of the healthcare system can be ruled out.” However, the parties agree that the “rules currently in force will continue to apply.” The state premier for North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst, said to RTL and n-tv, “The core message now is: no loosening!”  

Speaking to ZDF on Monday morning, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said he was in favour of discussing possible opening perspectives for the future. “If the number of cases goes down again, and that is to be expected when we are over this wave, then of course the restrictions cannot remain,” he said. 

As well as a future opening plan, the state and federal governments expect to use Monday’s meeting to decide how to prioritise PCR tests, which are currently in short supply, for certain population groups. In the draft resolution ministers also propose scrapping the use of PCR tests to confirm positive results from rapid antigen tests. Instead, in future, people could be directed to follow up a positive result with a second, high-quality antigen test. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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