Germany’s parliament has approved the first set of regulations of contact restrictions and other measures that would uniformly affect the entire country. Lawmakers voted as police were breaking up a major public protest.
Bundestag approves national coronavirus rules
Please note that DW is as mainstream media as it gets; and as Dr. Mike Yeadon famously said, ‘viruses don’t do waves’. What is driving their ‘cases’ – vaccines? more PCR testing? We are highly sceptical:
The German parliament on Wednesday passed potent new legislation to control the coronavirus pandemic across the country.
The changes to the Infectious Diseases Protection Act could be a watershed moment in Germany’s fight against the third wave of coronavirus infections.
The federal government has been technically in charge of restriction measures, but, in Germany’s decentralized structure, the 16 states were free to implement those guidelines as they saw fit.
Increasingly, the states have diverged on how to implement measures — leading to huge disparities across state borders on what rules were in place. Some states were opening up, despite exponential infection growth, while others remained closed. Although this may have won state premiers popularity among voters, it has also seen infection numbers soar.
Faced with such inconsistency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government introduced this legislation to legally obligate — rather than cajole — states into specific action in certain circumstances.
It has been described in German media as a move to centralize power to Berlin. However, in reality, such a move would require a change in the constitution.
What happens next?
The 16 federal states could still block it on Thursday in the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house of parliament. However, this is not expected.
If passed by both houses, affected districts will be immediately required to implement the new rules.
At some point, the law could be challenged in Germany’s Constitutional Court.
What are the new rules?
The law states that if cities or districts exceed a seven-day incidence rate of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over three consecutive days, then local authorities must:
- Restrict personal contacts to one household and one other person, not counting children under 14. Exemptions include meetings of spouses and partners or the exercise of custody and access rights.
- Implement a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew with exceptions for walking and jogging alone until midnight, and exceptions for emergencies, professional practice, nursing and care, animal care, or other significant reasons.
- Ensure nonessential shops only allow customers in with a negative COVID-19 test and an appointment. If the incidence rate exceeds 150, customers can only pick up preordered goods (also known as click & collect).
- Close in-person teaching at schools if the incidence rate exceeds 165. Exceptions for graduating classes and special schools are possible.
- Limit funerals to 30 mourners.
The law would be in effect until June 30, with any further changes requiring parliamentary approval.
What are people saying about the law?
Thousands of people were protesting in Berlin on Wednesday against the laws, largely without masks or social distancing. One police estimate put the number of participants at 8,000 people.
Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble, from Merkel’s CDU party, defended the curfews as proportionate. “A look abroad shows that all countries that have regained control of high infection figures have resorted to curfew restrictions in phases,” Schäuble told Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper.
The German Association of Towns and Municipalities said the law was important for greater acceptance of the rules. Chief Executive Gerd Landsberg told the Passauer Neue Presse: “It is important that there are now nationwide regulations on what must happen in which infection situation. This is especially crucial for acceptance among the population.”
Green Party health expert Janosch Dahmen told the DPA agency: “A uniform federal approach is right, but the measures are not sufficient.” He said it should apply at an incidence rate of 50.
Head of the health department at Berlin’s district Neukölln, Dr. Nicolai Savaskan, told DW that the federal emergency brake’s reliance on a seven-day incidence was “quite unspecific as a signal to detect epidemiological effects.”
The German Patient Protection Foundation said that in order to avoid potential legal challenges to the law, the threshold should also consider the vaccination rate of elderly people, and the burden on hospitals.
Which regions would this cover?
Any city or district with an incidence rate above 100 will be immediately affected if the law passes the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
Across the country, the average incidence rate was 162.4 on Wednesday.
Only one state fell below the 100 theshold, while six exceeded 165 — including the two most populous states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria.