Restrictions largely lifted - model for the federal government?

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Tue 17th Aug, 2021

In Baden-Württemberg, a new regulation in the Corona pandemic came into force on Monday morning with far-reaching relaxations for people who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from the virus.Those who belong to one of these two groups will again enjoy greater freedom in many areas from the beginning of the week, regardless of local or regional Corona incidences. On the other hand, unvaccinated and non-recovered people must present negative antigen rapid tests much more frequently than before, and these tests must not be older than 24 hours in each case. This applies, for example, to visits to museums, hotels, gyms, exhibitions, hairdressers and indoor restaurants.

Children who have not yet started school are exempt from the testing requirement. Schoolchildren are also not required to have separate tests, according to government data, provided they are already subject to regular Corona testing in their schools.For unvaccinated and unrecovered guests of clubs and discotheques, no rapid antigen test is sufficient; instead, a negative PCR test must be taken in advance, which must be no more than 48 hours old at the time of entry and is comparatively expensive.Previous contact restrictions and regulations for private events and celebrations will be lifted. Elsewhere, the mask requirement remains in place - even for vaccinated and recovered persons. It applies, for example, in local transport, in retail, in hotels and at the vast majority of non-private events, at least in closed rooms.

Following the Minister Presidents' Conference (MPK) last week, Baden-Württemberg had decided to remove the so-called seven-day incidence from the state's Corona ordinance. At the same time, Lower Saxony also announced that it would include other assessment measures in addition to incidence in its Corona ordinance, such as hospital occupancy rates.

The examples set by the two German states are now to be followed by others. In a survey conducted by the German Press Agency, numerous state governments announced that they would use other criteria to evaluate the incidence of infections in the future.

However, the final "happiness formula", of which Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had spoken, is still being sought. "What is clear is that, in addition to incidence, there will also be a look at contact tracing and the situation in hospitals," it says, for example, from the Bremen health department. Whether and which new warning levels will result from this, however, is "not yet finally clarified."

North Rhine-Westphalia's Ministry of Health is also continuing to work on the new regulations: "These are not yet fixed today, nor is the date of publication."

The number of corona patients in clinics seems to be largely undisputed as an additional decision criterion. In fact, some states have been doing so for some time. As indicators for political action, the state of Berlin, for example, has been using three Corona traffic lights for more than a year, which, in addition to the current infection trend, also keep an eye on the utilization of intensive care beds.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, too, hospital admissions and the proportion of Covid 19 patients in intensive care units are included in the daily risk assessment.The intensive care association Divi is also in favor. Referring to the admission figures of hospitals and intensive care units as well as the utilization of existing intensive care beds, President Gernot Marx told the Düsseldorf-based "Rheinische Post": "In intensive care units, these parameters are already included in daily planning on site."

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, on the other hand, considers the seven-day incidence to be sufficient. It has proven itself, he said. "We do not need any further parameters to assess the incidence of infection," he told the same newspaper. "The MPK's decision to introduce mandatory testing for unvaccinated people from a value of 35 is simple and correct."

Brandenburg's Minister President Dietmar Woidke (SPD) had already advocated using additional criteria earlier this month. His Bavarian counterpart, Söder, is considered a fan of the incidence value, but also believes it would make sense to include hospital occupancy. In addition, the CSU leader would like to increase the threshold values because, in view of the progress made in vaccination, he no longer sees a risk situation at an incidence of 50.

Schleswig-Holstein is also in favor of additional indicators and wants to regulate this at the next Conference of Minister Presidents at the latest. Among other things, the vaccination rate should also be taken into account, according to Kiel. The government of Rhineland-Palatinate is also aiming for "a common system of various indicators," but without going into detail. The search for the "happiness formula" thus continues across the states.

The Federal Ministry of Health said that to assess the situation, the seven-day incidence was "an important factor, but not the sole one." There are still other indicators such as the vaccination rate, the number of serious hospital cases, free intensive care capacities or the R-value, it said. This indicates how many others an infected person infects on average.

"We expressly welcome the fact that some states now want to map this complexity in the state rules," a ministry spokesman said Friday. At the same time, he pointed out that according to the latest federal-state decision, the 3G rule for an incidence value of 35 and above would initially apply - i.e. access to certain indoor areas only for vaccinated, recovered or negatively tested persons.

Photo by Brian Hurst


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