Correspondent in Berlin
The German parliament yesterday approved a reform of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG), which gives the executive branch greater powers when it comes to issuing restrictions. The grand coalition thus removes obstacles that it has encountered so far in its fight against the pandemic, given that German law gave priority to the fulfillment of civil rights. When the city of Düsseldorf, for example, wanted to make the use of the mask mandatory on the street, an administrative court overturned the ban in just three working days. The new 28th paragraph of this law now more clearly establishes powers of the federal State and the Bundesländer, and was approved by 415 votes in favor, 236 against and 8 abstentions. The vote was marked, however, by a citizen protest that surrounded the Bundestag and that accuses the government of taking advantage of the pandemic to give itself more powers.
“We have seen this before in Germany and this time we are not going to let it happen,” declared one of the protesters, who said he did not belong to any specific movement and had responded to a call that he accessed through the networks social. This legislation has been repeatedly compared online with the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave exceptional powers to the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. “Resistance!” “Resistance!” 5,000 and 10,000 protesters that they tried to break through the police cordon that protected the Bundestag. “Charge!”, “Charge!” The leaders began to harangue moments before the police began to dissolve the protest with pressurized water hoses. Both the shouts of the protesters and the orders that the police gave through loudspeakers, were perfectly heard in the plenary hall, during the tense parliamentary debate. “I don’t know which part you do not understand, where you do not agree to vote no on a reform that will save the lives of many Germans”, the German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn. “What part of the shouting out there do you not hear?”, Answered the co-president of the anti-European party Alternative for Germany, Alice Weidel, “From the moment in which the armed police have to protect this building from the citizens, who should feel represented here, we are without a doubt before a government that is afraid of its own people because it is not governing for their interests.”
“The police have acted with total professionalism and with the full force of the law. The protesters did not comply with the safety distance and did not wear a mask. In addition, this demonstration had not been authorized, we have in fact disavowed a dozen demonstrations in that location, offering in exchange other geographical points. But an accumulation of denialist movements, conspiracy theorists and the extreme right today had the objective of intimidating the deputies, “the interior senator from Berlin, Andreas Geisel, later explained. “That German citizens who freely express their opinion are thus stigmatized, as deniers or eccentric, just for the fact of thinking differently, is something inadmissible,” he declared for his part. Alexander Gauland, also from AfD, which accused the government of establishing a “health dictatorship.”
Balance between health and freedoms
«This law is 20 years old and it is not prepared to fight a pandemic. The reform may not be perfect, but it allows taking a series of necessary measures and maintaining a reasonable and sensible balance between health and freedoms, “Minister Spahn later defended, when he presented the law for approval to the Senate, the lower house of the Parliament, where it obtained 49 of the 69 votes, “I ask you to be critical, but constructive, without taking this debate to the emotional terrain.” “You are putting too many expectations on this reform,” the Hessian president replied, and like Spahn of the CDU, “I will vote yes, although I think we are obliged to explain what we do and why we do it. And it is clear that we have not done it.
The reform, which last night was scheduled to sign the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, It will also allow to improve the financing of Covid places in hospitals and clinics. It contemplates that, so that hospitals can focus on patients diagnosed with coronavirus, they cancel less urgent treatments and operations and receive compensation for the income they lose due to those cancellations. These compensations arise from the recommendations of an advisory council created by the Federal Ministry of Health “on the measures necessary to strengthen hospitals in the context of the pandemic.” The amount of compensation, depending on the size of the clinic, will be between 360 and 760 euros per bed and day. The new compensation payments will initially apply until the end of January 2021, but can, if necessary, be extended by legal order until the end of March 2022.
Another novelty is that from now on they will be the Federal states those who will select the hospitals to those who will be allocated the aid. If less than 20% of the intensive care beds in this region are ‘operational’, that is, empty, or if there are not enough staff available for this purpose, then the Bundesländer can select hospitals with emergency levels 2 and 3 to receive the aid. These categories are based on staff and technical equipment, with level 2 being “extended emergency care” and level 3 being “comprehensive emergency care”.
The balance of the protests on Wednesday in Berlin was nine policemen injured and one hundred arrests.