Lauterbach U-turns on voluntary COVID quarantine, admitting "mistake"
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has backtracked on his previous announcement that COVID quarantine rules would be scrapped in Germany, saying he made a mistake. People will most probably still be required to self-isolate for five days after testing positive for coronavirus. More information is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
Health Minister says scrapping self-isolation sends wrong signal
“Stopping the health authorities ordering people to isolate after a coronavirus infection in favour of making it voluntary would be wrong and will not happen,” Lauterbach wrote on Twitter late on Tuesday night. “I made a mistake here. This relieves the health authorities, but the signal [it sends] is false and harmful.”
He continued: “Corona is not a cold. Therefore, we must continue to have isolation after infection. Arranged and controlled by the health authorities. More on that tomorrow. The mistake was mine and has nothing to do with the FDP or the relaxation. It was about relieving the health authorities.”
Isolation following positive test to be reduced to five days
Late on Tuesday evening, Lauterbach had told broadcaster ZDF that the near-total scrapping of isolation rules, planned for May 1, would not take place. He said that the rule change would have created the “negative… devastating” impression that corona is not dangerous, and so could not be implemented.
Instead, the government plans to reduce the self-isolation period for people who test positive for coronavirus to five days from May 1. Up until now, a 10-day self-isolation period has been mandated, with the option of releasing oneself with a negative test on day seven. Close contacts who have had a booster shot have been exempt from quarantine rules for some time now, but from May 1, quarantine will be scrapped for all contact persons. This is expected to be confirmed sometime on Wednesday.
U-turn welcomed by some, criticised by others in Germany
The turnaround was welcomed by the German Foundation for Patient Protection, with head Eugen Brysch saying that it was good the Health Minister had recognised his mistake and corrected it. “Infected people infect other people with the virus and endanger immunocompromised people who live among us,” Byrsch said. “Corona is not a cold.”
Criticism came from opposition parties, including CDU chairperson Friedrich Merz, who accused the government of not even being able to keep decisions in place for longer than 48 hours. Sepp Müller, chairperson of the Union faction in the Bundestag, said the Health Minister’s pandemic policy and sudden rollback of rules had confused people. “Lauterbach is putting people’s health at risk with his confused actions,” he said.