Berlin (dpa) – Due to the spread of the more contagious variants of the corona virus, there is no end to the lockdown in sight in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) spoke out on Monday in Berlin for a strategy of opening up various areas in “packages”.
At the same time Merkel urged caution. Teachers and educators are now expected to be vaccinated earlier. However, another important building block in the fight against the pandemic, the planned free rapid tests, will likely be delayed.
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) had recently announced again and again that from March 1, all citizens would be offered to be tested free of charge by trained staff with rapid antigen tests – for example in test centers, practices or pharmacies. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said after a meeting of the Corona cabinet that this should only be discussed at the federal-state consultations on March 3.
“The postponement of the #fast tests is regrettable,” tweeted FDP boss Christian Lindner. “Testing, testing, testing is a building block for more freedom. The disappointment at the start of vaccination must not be repeated. Why does Austria already work in practice that we are postponing?”
In order to safeguard daycare and school openings, educators and teachers should be vaccinated earlier. According to a draft of the Ministry of Health, “people who work in childcare facilities, day care and primary schools” move from the third to the second group in the vaccination sequence. The amended vaccination ordinance could come into force this Wednesday. The health ministers of the federal states spoke out in a meeting without dissenting votes for this new regulation, as Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) announced.
In view of the concerns of a third corona wave, the Chancellor again pleaded for a cautious strategy. Opening steps would have to be coupled with increased tests and introduced wisely, said Merkel, according to participants in online deliberations of the CDU presidium. Merkel sees three areas for “packages” of an opening strategy: personal contacts, schools and vocational schools as well as sports groups, restaurants and culture.
Chancellery chief Helge Braun (CDU) said after this information that the mutations of the corona virus unfortunately just destroyed the good development. Government spokesman Seibert said the proportion of the more contagious British variant was 20 to 25 percent. “You have to assume that this proportion will continue to grow.” Opening steps have become more complicated as a result.
After about two months of closure and emergency care, daycare centers and elementary schools partially reopened in ten federal states on Monday. As a result, there is “a considerable increase in contacts and thus also in transmission risks,” said Seibert. Nobody wants to take back openings. “What we open, we want to hold out.” It is now important to look very closely at how school openings change the infection rate.
In the next few days, according to the information from the CDU presidium, a working group with the head of the Chancellery Braun and the heads of the state chancelleries will meet on the subject of openings. She should prepare the next federal-state consultations on March 3rd. According to previous plans, shops could reopen on March 7th – but only in regions where there are no more than 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days for three days in a row. On Monday, this seven-day incidence rose nationwide from 60.2 to 61.0. She has been over 57 for more than a week.
The chairman of the Prime Minister’s Conference, Michael Müller (SPD), told “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and “Stuttgarter Nachrichten”: “An R value well below 1 and a falling utilization of intensive care medicine will also be important criteria for the next easing steps.” In some cases, culture and gastronomy should be able to open if the federal states remained “stable over several weeks” below the seven-day incidence values of 35 or 50.
CDU boss Armin Laschet, on the other hand, told these two newspapers (Tuesday): “A step-by-step plan that regulates which incidence values have to be reached in order to reopen certain areas could bind us too much.” From the point of view of the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister, “rigid automatisms” do not help.
Within one day, 4,369 new corona infections and 62 further deaths were recorded. The total number of people who died of or with Sars-CoV-2 rose to 67,903.
When exactly teachers at elementary schools and kindergarten teachers will have their turn to vaccinate is unclear despite the planned higher prioritization. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around one million people are affected. According to Spahn’s earlier statements, vaccination group two, to which the teachers should belong, will come into play from April. Many chronically ill people and people over 70 are also gathered here.
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