Coalition wants to reinstate free Covid 19 testing

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Mon 8th Nov, 2021

The planned traffic light coalition wants to reintroduce free Covid 19 testing but does not want to regulate this via the new Corona legislation. Also, contrary to what is sometimes reported, the amendment does not provide for mandatory daily testing in nursing homes, for example for visitors. That learned the F.A.Z. on Monday noon from negotiating circles. To the newspaper the draft of SPD, Greens and FDP are present, which lies at present with the acting Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU). Afterwards the so-called formulation assistance for the change of the infection protection law is to go to the parliamentary group and party committees and come on Thursday in first reading into the Bundestag.

The federal regulation of mandatory testing in homes was unnecessary, as the states could already mandate it anyway, and for the most part, have done so, it said. The reintroduction of the free Covid 19 tests, which were cancelled in October for all those who could theoretically be vaccinated, was the right thing to do and had to come. Presumably, however, this could be achieved through a change in the test regulation, for which it would not be necessary to go to the Bundestag. New PCR rapid tests in gargle or spit variants are under discussion. These are considered to be more reliable than antigen tests and would not have to be used as frequently, which would reduce costs.

According to the draft, the Bundestag should not extend the Corona emergency, officially called an "epidemic situation of national importance." This expires after Nov. 25, so parliament will have to find a follow-up regulation before a new government convenes in December. The planned traffic light coalition, which has a majority in the Bundestag, does not want to extend the emergency, and it wants to soften the Infection Protection Act so that assembly bans, lockdowns with business and company closures and other severe interventions and restrictions are no longer possible. Distance, hygiene or masking rules, however, should still be able to apply, as should requirements to present proof of vaccination, testing, or recovery. And they will apply nationwide, but regardless of whether the emergency is declared. However, the period of validity is limited until the beginning of spring on March 20.

Another new feature is that these "less intensive measures" no longer have to be passed by the state parliaments. "This takes better account of the constitutional autonomy of the Länder, as well as the need for rapid response options," the paper says. Some Corona special rules will continue to run, such as the payment of children's sickness benefits, simplified access to minimum benefits, and the Sars-Cov-2 occupational health and safety regulation.

The managing labor ministry under Hubertus Heil (SPD) has reportedly called for improvements in the section dealing with the use of employee vaccination data "in certain institutions and companies. This refers to social, nursing, and medical institutions. According to the draft, employers should be allowed to "process" the vaccination and serostatus of employees there, regardless of the emergency situation, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Spahn had also suggested not extending the state of emergency. But there is resistance to this, including from the CDU/CSU camp. Peter Altmaier (CDU), who is still the economics minister, described the plans of the "traffic light" on Twitter as a "serious mistake. In the current infection situation, the procedure was "the completely wrong signal. It would be a sign of greatness to change that." Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) told Deutschlandfunk radio that it was "completely absurd to declare an end to an epidemic situation." That suggests the situation is normal, he said, "the opposite is the case." Söder acknowledged that Spahn also wanted the emergency to end, saying, "That was a mistake."

In addition to a return to free testing, the CSU leader also called for the introduction of free antibody tests to assess the need for third-party vaccinations. Söder is actually against compulsory vaccination because it divides the population. But he also said that there is already compulsory immunization against measles, which works well. As a child, he was "vaccinated against pretty much everything" without discussion. As a result, he said, polio, for example, has been virtually eradicated in Germany. "I would strongly advise talking about it," Söder said of the Corona vaccination requirement.

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