“We cannot and must not close our eyes to this next wave that’s starting to gather momentum,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz after consultations between the Federal and Länder Governments. In view of the spread of the Omicron variant, he met for talks on the current pandemic situation with the state premiers on Tuesday.
The decision was made that restrictions would remain in place for those who were not vaccinated and that additional contact restrictions would be introduced that applied to vaccinated and recovered persons, too. As far as the Federal Chancellor is concerned, the measures adopted by the Federal and Länder Governments are based on the consensus of the panel of expert scientists newly appointed by him to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. See here for the
“This pandemic has made immense demands on all of us over the last two years,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz. He stressed that the Heads of Government of the Länder and himself were well aware that the sheer length of the pandemic and the appearance of the new virus variant Omicron were an enormous challenge and burden to society as a whole.
Existing measures not sufficient to tackle the next wave
“The measures introduced from the end of November onwards are having an effect,” said Scholz. As a result, the fourth wave was gradually being brought under control, he noted, which was in fact good news. But because of the Omicron variant, he said, there was a threat of another wave as could currently be seen in Denmark and the UK, for example. This is because as well as undermining vaccine protection to some extent, Omicron is more contagious and spreads more quickly.
Vaccination is the key
“Vaccination is a crucial factor in the fight against Omicron,” said the Federal Chancellor. The booster campaign has been in progress since 18 November. The goal of 30 million vaccinations by Christmas is feasible, and an additional 30 million jabs are to be administered by the end of January. “This means that three quarters of the population will have been vaccinated three times,” said Scholz.
The Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder appeal to all citizens to get a booster jab. Those who have not yet been vaccinated at all are urged to protect themselves and others from now on by making an appointment for their first and second vaccination.
The decisions adopted by the Federal Government and Länder
- The number of infections will increase. For this reason it is important for critical infrastructure operations – such as the fire brigade, police, rescue services – to be able to guarantee availability even with numerous employees absent. These organisations are therefore encouraged to review and update their pandemic plans.
- The tough restrictions on unvaccinated persons remain in place. The following continue to apply: 3G (vaccinated/recovered/tested) at the workplace and on public transport, 2G (vaccinated/recovered) for cultural and leisure activities (e.g. cinemas, theatres, restaurants), and also shops, with the exception of stores that sell groceries and convenience goods. Depending on regional infection incidence, a test may also be necessary for vaccinated and recovered persons, i.e. 2G+ (vaccinated/recovered + test).
- For private get-togethers – whether indoors or outdoors – that include persons who are not vaccinated or who have not recovered from the disease, the following rules still apply: Only members of one’s own household and a maximum of two persons from another household may meet. If everyone is vaccinated or recovered, the maximum number of people who can meet is ten as of no later than 28 December. Children under the age of 14 do not count.
- Large-scale events of national relevance such as football matches will take place without spectators as of no later than 28 December 2021. From this date onwards at the latest, in those federal states where the regional parliaments have determined that an epidemic situation applies, clubs and discotheques with indoor premises will be closed and dance events will be prohibited.
- Financial support continues to be available for companies affected by the coronavirus protection measures under the Bridging Aid IV assistance programme.
- In order to relieve hospitals, the Federal and Länder Governments decided some time ago that the sale of fireworks for New Year’s Eve would be banned. There will also be a ban on gatherings and get-togethers on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The agreed measures are to be implemented through the coronavirus protection ordinances applicable in the respective federal states. The Federal and Länder Governments will meet again on 7 January 2022.
Standing together to tackle the pandemic effectively
The Federal Chancellor is certain that the vast majority of the population will behave responsibly and cautiously over the Christmas period. The past two years indicate that Christmas has not proven to be a great pandemic driver. This was why the conscious decision was made not to implement the measures until after Christmas.
“This pandemic is trying for all of us,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz. “But we have no other options. Once again, we have to stand together – and frequently keep a distance, too. We need to protect ourselves and our loved ones. If we’re able to do this with all the common sense we have as human beings, we’ll be able to successfully overcome the next wave of the coronavirus.”
In its first statement, the panel of scientific experts appointed by Federal Chancellor Scholz to support the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic pointed out the dangers posed by the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The expectation is that it will give rise to enormous challenges. This is because the Omicron variant infects “significantly more people within a very short period of time, also involving vaccinated and recovered individuals in the infection process to a greater extent,” said the experts, and potentially resulting in an “explosive spread”.