Scholz says COVID restrictions will be relaxed at next week's summit
With the Omicron-fuelled fourth wave of coronavirus in Germany appearing to be reaching its peak, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced that some COVID restrictions will be relaxed at next week’s summit between the federal government and the federal states.
Scholz: Peak of Omicron wave in sight
“The scientific forecasts show us that the peak of the wave is in sight,” Scholz said on Friday in a speech to the Bundesrat. “This allows us to take a first step towards opening up at the federal-state summit next week and then look at further steps for the spring.” He did not provide any details about what this possible opening step would be.
Scholz said that ministers would heed the advice of scientists and experts, in order not to jeopardise what has already been achieved in Germany’s fight against the pandemic, pointing out that the healthcare system has so far coped well with the crisis, despite the immense strain on doctors and other staff members. This, Scholz argued, demonstrated that the coronavirus measures had worked.
FDP calls for all restrictions to be lifted in Germany on March 19
His comments come amid a swelling debate about the possibility of easing coronavirus restrictions in Germany. While ministers have been calling on the federal government for several weeks to present a concrete reopening strategy, Scholz’s administration has so far insisted that nothing would be decided before the summit on February 16.
On Thursday, Christian Dürr, parliamentary group leader for Scholz’s coalition partner the FDP, said that Germany should move towards dropping all coronavirus measures on March 19, when the current legislation is due to expire. He justified this on the basis that hospitals in Germany were coping well with the Omicron wave, and said that, while the vast majority of people in Germany support the restrictions, the government should not keep them in place for longer than necessary.
A few days earlier, the head of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gasß, said he “no longer” expected the healthcare system to become overloaded due to the Omicron variant.
Image: photocosmos1 / Shutterstock.com
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