Politicians call for pandemic exit plan in Germany

Calls are growing from some politicians for a firm plan to relax Covid restrictions in Germany.

A sign on a shop in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria, says: 'No more 2G with immediate effect' following a court decision.
A sign on a shop in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria, says: 'No more 2G with immediate effect' following a court decision. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

The federal and state governments are meeting on Monday to discuss the Covid situation in Germany – and they want to stick to the current regulations that include strict entry rules to most public places. 

But in view of Omicron variant, politicians from Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Free Democrats (FDP) are demanding that they start thinking about an end to the restrictions.

READ ALSO: Is Germany set to ease or tighten Covid restrictions?

CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt told Welt that he wants to see Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the state leaders come up with a strategy to “move out of the pandemic step by step”.

He said that because experts agree that Omicron generally results in milder illness than previous Covid variants, the outlook needs to change.

“That is why the evaluation standards must also be adjusted,” he said, adding that the incidence cannot be the yardstick for deciding measures. 

“The central question must be: how burdened is the health system?” he said. This has to be the basis “for all decisions by the federal and state governments”, added Dobrindt.

Relaxations for major events?

Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann told broadcaster ARD that when the peak of the Omicron wave – expected for mid-February – was reached and the numbers were also declining in hospitals, the measures would have to be relaxed.

Christof Rasche, leader of the FDP state parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia, went further and called for relaxations for large events. He also urged for the 2G regulation in shops and 2G-plus in restaurants be shelved.

2G means that only vaccinated (geimpft) and recovered people (genesen) can enter, while 2G-plus means that vaccinated and recovered people need to show proof of being boosted or a negative Covid test.

He pointed out that courts in some federal states – including Bavaria – have already overturned the 2G rule in shops.

Earlier, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities also urged the federal and state governments to develop a gradual Covid relaxation plan.

An exit strategy must “be prepared now”, Chief Executive Gerd Landsberg told RND on Sunday.

“In neighbouring countries, we can see that the pandemic will reach its peak at some point, and then the numbers will drop drastically and quickly again,” he said.

As The Local has reported, draft plans show that Chancellor Scholz and the state leaders want to keep the current regulations in place for now against the backdrop of rising infections and fears that hospitalisations will increase, and key infrastructure will struggle. 

However, it is expected that leaders will discuss plans on how to relax rules in future during Monday’s Covid summit.

Member comments

  1. There is no exit strategy. The power given to the politicians hasn’t been seen since it was taken in 1933. They are addicted to it. What is most terrifying is how willing people were then, and now to not only go along with it but actually get in lockstep behind them. And chant for more.

    The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.

    1. Bang on. By far the most alarming thing has been the media’s total abandonment of its role (and responsibility) of providing robust challenge and scrutiny of this massive government overreach. The vast majority of people are extremely obedient and go with whatever line the media feeds them.

      Particularly disappointing in Germany.

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Germany’s top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health workers

Germany's highest court ruled on Thursday that the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination rule for employees in health and care sectors is constitutional.

Germany's top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health workers

From mid-March this year, health and care workers in Germany have had to prove they are vaccinated against Covid-19 or recently recovered. 

If they can’t provide this proof they face fines or even bans from working – however it is unclear how widely it has been enforced due to concerns over staff shortages. 

On Thursday the constitutional court rejected complaints against the partial vaccination mandate, saying the protection of vulnerable people outweighs any infringement of employees’ rights.

The law covers employees in hospitals as well as care homes, clinics, emergency services, doctors’ surgeries and facilities for people with disabilities. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s Covid vaccine mandate for health staff

The court acknowledged that the law meant employees who don’t want to be vaccinated would have to deal with professional consequences or change their job – or even profession. 

However, the obligation to be vaccinated against Covid as a health or care worker is constitutionally justified and proportionate, according to the judges.

They said that’s because compulsory vaccination in this case is about protecting elderly and sick people. These groups are at increased risk of becoming infected by Covid-19 and are more likely to become seriously ill or die.

The protection of vulnerable groups is of “paramount importance”, the resolution states.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach welcomed Thursday’s ruling and thanked health care facilities who have already implemented the vaccine mandate. He said: “The state is obliged to protect vulnerable groups”.

Course of the pandemic doesn’t change things

According to the ruling, the development of the pandemic in Germany is no reason to change course. 

The court based its decision on the assessment of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and medical societies, stating that it could still be assumed that a vaccination would protect against the Omicron variant.

It’s true that the protection of vaccines decreases over time, and most courses of disease are milder with the Omicron variant. Nevertheless, the institution-based vaccination obligation remains constitutional because, according to the experts, the higher risk for old and sick people has not fundamentally changed.

A vaccine mandate that would have affected more of the population in Germany was rejected by the Bundestag in a vote held in April

MPs had been allowed to vote with their conscience on the issue rather than having to vote along party lines.