Corona loosening? The next federal state is advancing, Scholz is reacting

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From: Florian Naumann

Markus Söder (left) and Olaf Scholz after a Corona summit – will there be a loosening dispute in the next round? © Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture-alliance

Loosen? This is suddenly back on the agenda in the federal political Corona debate. But the situation is complex – including disagreement across parties and coalitions.

Berlin/Munich – It is the question that could now occupy the whole of Germany again: Will the corona measures be relaxed soon? At the last summit, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD)* relied on the much-quoted “Keep it up” – but new pressure has been coming on since the weekend at the latest.

However, the situation is anything but clear. Not only with a view to the imponderables in the omicron wave*. But also politically. The lines of conflict apparently run partly across party affiliations. CSU boss Markus Söder wants to “give back freedoms”, as he clarified on ARD*. On Monday, SPD-governed Bremen followed suit. However, other signals came from the new CDU chairman Friedrich Merz. And Scholz also announced a wait and see reaction.

Corona loosening at the next summit? Scholz spokesman brakes – Merz warns despite Söder’s advance

There was no clear rejection from the federal government on Monday (January 31) – but a clear damper. “The moment we have the feeling that we can relax responsibly, this federal government, all state governments will take exactly this step,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit assured on Monday in Berlin. At the moment, however, it is “still a bit premature” to take this step. The peak of the wave has not yet been reached: “And in this respect I would warn at the moment against believing too early that it’s already over”.

Merz, in turn, called for patience when the postal voting result was officially announced – without driving Söder completely into the parade. “In my view, it is too early today to relax. But that can be different in two to three weeks,” said Merz. At the same time, he braked in part just in the loosening fields mentioned by Söder. “A few restrictions, also in personal contacts” and also in major events are still necessary. The two Union leaders had recently demonstratively practiced closing ranks*.

After talks with football representatives who would like to see spectators in the stadiums again, Merz emphasized: “Successively yes. Overnight with a ‘Freedom Day’ no.” The time is not yet ripe for that.

“Omicron wall” in Germany: Söder relies on Drosten – SPD country chief follows suit

Söder explained on Sunday that it was always necessary to weigh security and freedom. But now we have to look for “a door in the omicron wall” that allows more freedom. He referred to statements by the virologist Christian Drosten, who, among other things, had presented Omicron as a possible way out of an “endemic”. However, the scientist at the Berlin Charité recently also had reminders ready. In the “Report from Berlin” program, the CSU boss thought aloud about making things easier in gastronomy, culture, but also at major events. He envisaged the Corona summit as a starting point for decisions.

Bremen’s Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) said the following day that “certain openings” had to be considered. This applies in particular if the situation in the intensive care units remains stable, he explained on Deutschlandfunk. Bovenschulte also said that it should be talked about “what happens in football stadiums”. He named retail as another possible area for easing – also in view of the 2G regulations in retail that have been overturned by courts in some places*.

Corona in Germany: traffic lights at odds with easing? Lindner is also targeting retail

And even in the traffic light government, the decision-making process still seems very open. FDP boss and Finance Minister Christian Lindner, for example, was more offensive than Scholz spokesman Hebestreit. He asked himself “personally whether we really need the very strict access restrictions in retail in the long term,” he told the TV station Welt. This causes “economic damage” and it must “always be asked whether the damage is in proportion to the additional health benefit”. Lindner did not want to question the other corona rules.

The sticking point could actually be the next Corona summit with the federal and state governments. At the next round of federal and state governments on Corona on February 16, it should be discussed “under what conditions, with what intermediate steps can the country be restarted and how,” said Lindner. The debate thus ties in with a rather vague promise made at the previous prime ministers’ conference. On January 24, the prime ministers and chancellors decided that they would “develop perspectives for the moment when an overload of the health system can be ruled out”. There was no specific timetable associated with this. (dpa / AFP / fn) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

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