Relax measures despite the high number of infections – or rather not yet? There are different opinions in the traffic light government. And also in the population, as a survey shows.
Berlin – Around a week and a half before the next federal-state round, the traffic light government is divided about the further course in the corona pandemic.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) do not see the time for easing as yet – the FDP, on the other hand, is pushing for rapid opening steps. Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann questioned Chancellor Scholz’s leadership. The Green politician said on Deutschlandfunk on Saturday: “In a pandemic, the head of government must lead strongly, there is no other way.”
Economics Minister Habeck told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “Of course we need an opening perspective, but the easing must come at the right time.” The Omicron wave has not yet broken. He pleaded for uniformity in the easing. “I think it’s important that we coordinate the individual steps, which comes first,” he said. “We have to see how the pandemic develops. In Germany we have a comparatively low vaccination rate, especially among the elderly population. But there is reason for cautious hope.”
Consultations in mid-February
Scholz had also recently expressed reservations. The FDP, on the other hand, has been calling for easing for some time – although the corona numbers in Germany are currently reaching record levels. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a seven-day incidence of more than 1400 for the first time on Sunday. Proponents of opening steps argue, however, that the course of the disease with an omicron infection is usually rather mild. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) recently pointed out that the legal basis for the current corona measures will expire on March 19th.
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) asked the federal government to submit an opening plan. “If we can be sure that the health system will not be overloaded, freedom rights should no longer take a back seat as in other phases of the pandemic,” said the CSU boss of the “Bild am Sonntag”. “We should take further steps to open up culture, sport and trade if the number of hospitals remains stable. The consistent use of FFP2 masks allows contact restrictions to be lifted.”
The next top-level talks between the prime ministers and Scholz are scheduled for February 16. Nationwide easing could be agreed there. On January 24, the federal and state governments agreed to develop “opening perspectives” as soon as the health system could be overburdened. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had repeatedly stated that the peak of the omicron wave in Germany would probably be reached in mid-February.
Poll: 49 to 44 in the population
Lauterbach warned again at the weekend against hasty steps. “Our strategy has worked well so far,” he told the “Bild am Sonntag”. With targeted measures and booster vaccinations, it was possible to protect the elderly and those who were previously ill. “But if we relax too early now, we unnecessarily question our own success and risk new, dangerous infections and an extension of the wave. What we have built up in weeks, we can gamble away in days.”
With regard to Scholz, Prime Minister Kretschmann said that in a crisis, the head of government’s authority to issue guidelines would be required. If the coalition partners do not follow this relatively freely, that is a problem. He recalled Scholz’s statement that whoever orders a tour from him will also get it. Kretschmann warned against making any compromises, even if that would be complicated in a government with three partners. The solution of wanting to introduce general corona vaccination via group applications in the Bundestag is a lengthy process “with the risk that it will be talked about in the end and no clear line will come out of it”.
According to an Insa survey commissioned by “Bild am Sonntag”, for the first time in a long time there is a majority in the population that is in favor of opening steps. According to this, 49 percent are in favor of easing, 44 percent are against it. When asked about the usefulness of individual measures, 53 percent stated that they no longer found the 2G rules in retail to be useful (useful: 42 percent). Contact restrictions for the vaccinated would be abolished by 66 percent and retained by 27 percent. 49 percent no longer think 2G plus in gastronomy makes sense and 47 percent makes sense. dpa