Simagine there is a new coronavirus protection regulation and hardly anyone takes notice of it. The fact that FFP2 masks have been compulsory in Hesse since the beginning of the week when shopping in grocery stores, banks or post offices, in short in all wholesale and retail stores, does not seem to have gotten around yet. Sample on Monday morning in the supermarket: customers dutifully pull their masks over their mouths and noses. The fact that in most cases this no longer corresponds to the latest protection ordinance is new to those addressed.
New rules have been in force in Hesse since this Monday. The FFP2 mask requirement in wholesale and retail for all customers older than 15 years is just one of them. But there are also relaxations. So the 2-G rule was overturned in the entire retail trade. The vaccination status may no longer be queried when entering a shop. Even those who have not been vaccinated or who do not yet have full vaccination protection are allowed to shop in all shops again. In addition, according to the new regulation, a current negative proof is sufficient to visit swimming pools, zoos or museums, for example.
Incidence no longer relevant
In addition, counties and urban districts in which the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants exceeds 350 within seven days are no longer listed as “hotspots”. So far, stricter rules have applied in hotspots, including the obligation to wear a mask in pedestrian zones. The new regulation “in no way represents a change of strategy,” says a spokesman for the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs. It is always about evaluating what has proven to be useful in the fight against the pandemic and what has not. “The hotspot regulation has abolished itself.” The limit value has been exceeded many times over in all Hessian cities and districts for weeks. “That’s why parts of this regulation have now simply been transferred to normal prescription operation” – prostitution establishments are allowed to reopen under certain conditions.
According to the ministry spokesman, the seven-day incidence should only be used as a guide in the future, in order to be able to assess how the infection process is developing within the population. “No concrete measures” would be linked to it. “Hospital occupancy will remain the main criterion, as it has been in the past few months – and especially the Hessian IVENA data.” Among other things, these data provide information on how many intensive care beds in Hesse’s clinics are currently occupied by corona patients and which clinics still have free (ventilation) capacities. If the number of occupied intensive care beds exceeds 400 or the so-called hospitalization rate rises above nine, the state government could impose stricter rules again.
Biggest challenge: loss of staff
In contrast to the hotspot regulation, the escalation concept will continue to be adhered to, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs. There has recently been criticism of the hospitalization rate, which measures how many people infected with corona per 100,000 citizens have to be treated in a clinic. The number does not allow any conclusions to be drawn as to whether the individual patient was brought to the clinic because of a severe course of corona or whether the corona infection was more of a chance diagnosis during a hospital stay that was necessary anyway. The limit for the hospitalization rate was therefore raised from eight to nine with the new Corona Virus Protection Ordinance. The current Corona Ordinance for Hesse should apply until March 6th.
According to Jürgen Graf, Medical Director of the Frankfurt University Hospital, the absence of doctors and nurses due to corona is currently a greater challenge than the care of Covid patients. “For the first time in this pandemic, our big question is not how do we deal with the many additional patients, but how do we maintain our operability,” said Graf, who also heads the planning staff for inpatient care in the Hessian Ministry of Health. Again and again, employees have to be quarantined even without symptoms. Others have to stay at home because their children are infected or the daycare is closed.
“Reaching people where they are”
The state capital Wiesbaden has meanwhile started a multilingual advertising campaign for vaccination. This is intended to increase the vaccination rate in Hesse’s second largest municipality, in which almost 40 percent of the citizens have a migration background. “With the advertising campaign, we want to reach people where they are. For example in pubs, shisha bars or social networks,” said Mayor Gert-Uwe Mende (SPD). The campaign developed by the “kraftundadel” agency equates vaccination with needs, preferences and favorite places. It is therefore “vaccinate = life”, “vaccinate = friends”, “vaccinate = shisha”, “vaccinate = cinema” or “vaccinate = celebrate”, followed by the call: “Get vaccinated for free! To you. For us. For Wiesbaden.” A total of more than 3,400 posters will be put up. Since the message is being spread in Turkish, Polish, Romanian, Italian, Bulgarian, Arabic, Greek, English and Russian, as many citizens as possible should feel addressed. The poster campaign is supplemented by flyers and social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In Hesse, 81.5 percent of citizens over the age of twelve have received at least two vaccinations, and 58.5 percent are considered to have been boosted. From Monday, people can also be vaccinated against the corona virus in pharmacies.