The federal and state governments are adopting stricter corona measures

Federal Chancellor Scholz and the Prime Ministers of the federal states demonstrate unity in the Corona policy. Contact restrictions still apply. Despite the recommendation of the Expert Council, the epidemic emergency should not be restored.

Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey during the press conference after the Bund-Länder summit.

John Macdougall / Reuters

At the Prime Minister’s Conference (MPK) on Friday, the federal and state governments decided on further corona measures designed to curb the infection rate in Germany. The rules of access to restaurants are being tightened significantly. In future, access to restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs nationwide will only be possible with 2G-Plus. This does not apply to people who have already received a booster. Visitors must therefore be vaccinated or have recovered and also be able to show a daily negative test or a booster vaccination. The regulation is expected to come into force on January 15th.

Furthermore, contact restrictions in private areas apply to ten people for vaccinated and genesis and to two people for unvaccinated; Mask requirement as well as a recommendation for wearing FFP2 masks in shops and in local public transport; 2G for cultural and leisure facilities; Home office compulsory. Clubs and discos remain closed and dance events are prohibited.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said in the press conference following the conference that the federal government and the states could not give the all-clear in view of the pandemic situation. It is to be expected that the number of infections due to the Omikron variant would continue to rise sharply. Scholz emphasized the unity and determination of German politics. “We act together,” said the Chancellor, referring to the deliberations between the federal and state governments. That is an obligation to the citizens.

The incidence in Germany is rising again

New infections reported daily per 100,000 inhabitants and week


The climax of the second wave


Third wave climax


Fourth wave climax

Open questions about compulsory vaccination

Scholz also demonstrated surprising unity on the question of mandatory vaccination. All sixteen prime ministers had committed themselves to the introduction of a general compulsory vaccination. There was a consensus to move this forward quickly. Hendrik Wüst (CDU), Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, affirmed that the preparation of a general vaccination requirement is part of a forward-looking pandemic policy.

The members of the Bundestag should vote on the compulsory vaccination according to their conscience, without being compulsory for a parliamentary group. An “orientation debate” is planned for the first time in the Bundestag at the end of January. Contrary to what was originally planned, it is not yet about draft laws. There are also dissenting votes; for example, the Bundestag has submitted a group motion from FDP MPs against a general vaccination requirement. At their meeting on Friday, the federal and state governments did not take specific decisions on the further schedule of the extended vaccination obligation.

In its opinion, the Council of Experts recommended that the Federal Government once again declare the epidemic situation of national significance by the Bundestag. The Union-led countries are also pushing for this. It would allow them to have far-reaching powers again, such as the regulation of area-wide lockdowns. However, Scholz remains on the course of the new federal government to implement the measures on the basis of the current Infection Protection Act. No change in the current legal situation is necessary for decisive and quick action.

Change of quarantine rules

The Ampel-Coalition has always refused the restoration of the epidemic situation of national importance and has mainly used legal reasons against the sharp criticism of the Union faction. Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) argued that the powers would have to be returned to the parliaments and civil rights reinvigorated. The health emergency should not become normal.

Omicron detected 44 percent of the time

Share of corona variants in confirmed new infections, in percent


Third wave climax


Fourth wave climax

In view of the rapid spread of the Omikron variant, however, there was now a need for action. Because of the quarantine regulations, the critical infrastructure could be threatened if too many people have to stay at home for fourteen days at the same time because of an infection or contact with an infected person.

As Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had previously announced, the quarantine rules that currently apply in view of the highly contagious Omikron variant are therefore to be relaxed. In the future, contact persons who have recently been vaccinated, have recovered or have had complete vaccination protection with a third-party vaccination will be exempt from quarantine. A person who has had an illness or vaccination no more than three months ago is deemed to have been “freshly” vaccinated or recovered. For all other people, the quarantine ends after ten days. Anyone who has become infected or has had contact with an infected person can test himself free after seven days with a PCR test or a rapid antigen test with appropriate evidence.

Exceptions for students

Employees who are in contact with vulnerable groups are only allowed to end isolation at home after infection with a negative PCR test after seven days, provided they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.

Schoolchildren and children in daycare centers who have had contact with an infected person can end the quarantine after five days with a negative PCR or rapid antigen test. But that is obviously not mandatory; The decision says: “Exceptions to the quarantine are possible if there is a high level of protection (e.g. daily tests, mask requirement, etc.).” How to proceed with the possibility of “free testing” if the test capacities are insufficient was not explained.

Criticism of radicalized corona opponents

Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) praised the good preparation of the federal-state summit, which enabled the state leaders to make a quick decision. In the pandemic, one should never lose sight of the proportionality of the measures. This is one of the reasons why it is right to make a difference in the treatment of people who have received a booster vaccination and who do not need an additional test in the hospitality industry. This creates incentives for more people to get a booster vaccination.

With a view to the protests against the corona measures, Prime Minister Wüst emphasized that the right to demonstrate also applies in times of the pandemic. Threats and attempts to intimidate public officials, which are increasingly being observed among radicalized opponents of the corona policy, could not be tolerated. Nevertheless, he contradicted the impression that society was divided and agreed with Scholz. It is a minority who reject the corona policy. The next federal-state meeting is planned for January 24th.

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