Germany to scrap COVID quarantine rules from May 1
From May 1, Germany will no longer require people to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has announced. The new guidance does not apply to healthcare workers who test positive.
Germany scraps COVID self-isolation for most people
Following in the footsteps of countries like the UK and Switzerland that have scrapped mandatory quarantine periods for COVID-infected people, from the beginning of next month Germany will make self-isolation voluntary for people who contract the virus or come into contact with a positive case. However, the old quarantine rules will continue to apply to people working in healthcare who test positive.
At a press conference in Berlin on Monday, Lauterbach said that he and the health ministers of the federal states had agreed on the new approach. “The current regulation works, but is not necessary in the long term,” he said. “The turning point seems to have been reached. The number of cases is going down.”
From May 1, only people working in hospitals, GP surgeries, nursing homes and similar settings who test positive for coronavirus will be required to self-isolate. The option to “test to release” on day five will also remain open.
For everyone else, there will only be an “urgent recommendation” to go into self-isolation if you test positive for coronavirus, and then regularly self-test until you get a negative result, regardless of whether you are displaying symptoms or not. Close contacts are also recommended, but not required, to self-isolate.
Move makes life dangerous for most vulnerable, patient advocates argue
While State Health Minister for Bavaria, Klaus Holetschek, said the step was all about moving towards “personal responsibility”, criticism came in quickly from various quarters. Eugen Brysch, from the German Foundation for Patient Protection, accused the government of making life more dangerous for high-risk people. “It is becoming more and more dangerous for the high-risk group. These people live among us,” he told RND.
The epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb, from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology, called for self-isolation rules to remain in place for infected people. “If a person has symptoms, they should sit out the corona infection at home instead of infecting more people,” he said. He added that COVID was now being treated like a common cold, despite evidence that some people still suffer severe courses and even fatal infections.
The German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) also objected to the proposals, with board member Anja Piel accusing the government of washing its hands of the fight against the pandemic. She said that, with the scrapping of most mask rules from April 2, many high-risk people now no longer feel comfortable in many areas of public life.