German states opt to extend COVID measures beyond March 20
Far from a “Freedom Day”, it seems that March 20 in Germany is going to be more like another day on the steady road to easing restrictions, after the federal states got cold feet about lifting all COVID measures in the face of rapidly rising infection rates.
Concern has infection rates rise in Germany
This week, the German federal government is set to implement major changes to the Infection Protection Act, signalling the end to most far-reaching coronavirus measures in the country. However, responding to the increasing number of cases of coronavirus nationwide, it looks as if all of the federal states are opting to extend the existing measures until April 2, making use of the “transition phase” outlined in the government’s draft legislation.
Data from the Robert Koch Institute shows that coronavirus infections are still hitting new heights, with a new record seven-day incidence rate of 1.607,1 recorded on Wednesday morning.
All German states delay lifting of COVID restrictions
Concerned about these figures, many states in Germany are hesitant to abruptly lift all restrictions. They are therefore planning to make use of a clause in the new infection protection law that provides for a two-week transition period. According to this, previous regulations such as mask requirements or 2G rules and 3G rules can remain in place until April 2.
The state of Brandenburg was one of the first to announce that it would be keeping restrictions in place until April 2, and then assessing the situation and deciding whether it needed to make use of the so-called hotspot regulation included in the new law, which allows state governments to implement restrictions in response to rising infection rates.
Similar announcements soon followed in Bavaria, where 2G and 3G rules and mask requirements should remain in place until April 2. Saarland has opted to extend the current rules until March 31, as a precautionary measure, as has Berlin. In all other federal states, most restrictions will remain in place until at least April 2, although many have said that they will wait until a final decision is made by the government this week.
Federal Health Minister urges caution
This approach has been encouraged by Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who said that the states should make use of the appropriate measures to combat the high incidence rate. “The states have to tackle it,” he told ARD. “Some states, such as Brandenburg, have now done so. They go forward and say: We are extending almost everything we have and then we will take the new hotspot regulations.”
Previously, the government’s decision to move ahead with amending the Infection Protection Act on March 19 attracted criticism from figures in healthcare and industry. The head of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Eugen Byrsch, told dpa that he believed reason was being thrown out to appease the “radical Freedom Day” proponents, and that the result could be hundreds of deaths every day.
The Federation of German Industries was also critical. “Given the new record numbers of infections, it is difficult to justify a generous relaxation of the corona measures,” said president Siegfried Russwurm.
Image: Mo Photography Berlin / Shutterstock.com
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