Courtesy Translation: Nationwide emergency brake adopted

Courtesy image.

Press Release from the Federal German Government from April 21 2021

If a county or a county-free city exceeds an incidence of 100, federal measures will in future curb the number of infections development there. This was decided by the Bundestag (German federal government) with an amendment to the Infection Protection Law. The new version is intended to help slow down the third wave of the pandemic.

The German Bundestag has adopted important additions to the Infection Protection Law today. The central change is: If a county or a county-free city exceeds an incidence level of 100 on three consecutive days, additional measures, which are now laid down in the law uniformly, will apply there from the second day after that.

The incidence of 100 is exceeded if more than 100 new infections with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 per 100,000 inhabitants are detected within seven days.

“The situation is serious, very serious,” said Federal Health Minister Spahn in the Bundestag. This is shown by a look at the number of occupied intensive care unit beds – this is the “hardest currency in this pandemic”. Vaccination and testing would give a perspective, but would not be enough to contain the third wave. Rather, there is a proven, tried, tested and effective means for this: “reducing contacts and thus infections”.

It’s not about a permanent state

“What we need now is clarity and consistency,” emphasized Federal Finance Minister Scholz in the parliamentary debate. The addition of the Infection Protection Law stipulates that something must be done in the event of an incidence of more than 100 – “everywhere in Germany”. The new regulation should contribute to greater comprehensibility and greater support for necessary measures. Scholz made it clear that it was about overcoming the pandemic – and “not about a permanent state.”

Variety of contact reduction measures

The nationwide emergency brake now provides for a variety of measures to significantly reduce contacts and slow down the spread of the virus in the event of increased infection. These measures can be found in the newly inserted Section 28b of the Infection Protection Law. Most of the instruments are already known to many citizens, as they have already been agreed by the federal and state governments to combat the pandemic.

– Contact restrictions for private meetings indoors and outdoors: Reducing private and professional contacts is the most effective way to curb the number of new infections. Still, no one should remain lonely. Therefore, meetings of a household with another person are still possible even with an incidence of more than 100 – meetings with more people, on the other hand, are not.

– Opening stores: Even with a high incidence, the supply of food, consumer goods and existential services to the population is ensured reliably. Food retailers remain open including direct marketing, beverage markets, health food stores, baby stores, pharmacies, medical centers, drugstores, opticians, hearing care workers, gas stations, newspaper sales outlets, bookstores, florists, animal supplies markets, feeding markets, gardening markets and wholesalers. In all cases, of course, compliance with appropriate hygiene concepts and the obligation to wear masks remain a prerequisite.

In the case of an incidence below 150, it will also be possible for all other stores to offer appointments and with a current negative test result. In the service sector, everything that is not expressly prohibited remains open, such as bicycle and car repair shops, banks and savings banks, post offices and the like.

– Services close to the body – only in exceptional cases: Services close to the body should only be used for medical, therapeutic, nursing or pastoral purposes. Exceptions: hairdresser’s visit and foot care, but only if the customers can present a negative corona test taken on the same day – and of course only with a mask. Other services close to the body shall no longer be possible.

– Restricted leisure and sports facilities: gastronomy and the hotel industry, leisure and cultural facilities are to close at an incidence of more than 100. Exceptions: Outdoor areas of zoological and botanical gardens. They can be visited with a current negative test. Professional athletes as well as competitive athletes of the federal and state squads can continue to train and also compete – as usual without spectators and adhering to protection and hygiene concepts. For everyone else: doing sports yes, but alone, in pairs or only with members of their own household. Exception: Children up to 14 years of age can exercise outside in a group with up to five other children without contact.

– Curfews: In the period between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., only those who have a good reason – for example, go to work, seeking medical help or having to walk the dog – should leave the house. Until midnight it will still be possible to go jogging or walking alone outside. Curfews are one instrument among many others. They help to limit mobility. And restrictions on mobility help to reduce the number of new infections.

– No classroom instruction in the event of an incidence above 165: The infection does not stop at the school door. Due to the dynamic infection situation, it is therefore important to come to federal regulations here too, if the epidemiological situation so requires. In the case of an incidence of 165, classroom instruction in schools and regular care in daycare centers shall be prohibited. Possible exceptions: graduation classes and “Förderschulen” (support schools).

– Homeoffice: The obligation to offer home office, if this is possible in the company, is already part of the Corona Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance. The inclusion in the Infection Protection Law strengthens the home office obligation. Employees now also have a duty to accept home office offers if possible.

Merkel: Better pooling forces

“There is no way around: we must slow down the third wave of the pandemic and stop the rapid rise in infections,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the start of parliamentary deliberations in the German Bundestag last Friday. “In order to finally achieve this, we need to combine the forces of the federal government, the German states and the municipalities better than we did last time. That’s why we draw the necessary conclusions.”

“I am fully aware that these are harsh restrictions,” Merkel had said. Especially with regard to the much-discussed curfews, she stressed that these are not, of course, a universal remedy against the virus. However, curfews could have an effect in combination with other measures such as strict contact restrictions. “The fight against pandemics is about reducing contacts. It is a question of reducing evening visits and moving from one place to another, including the use of local public transport”. The advantages of this measure outweigh the disadvantages.

“We’ve been successful before”

“All measures have one single goal: to get our whole country out of this terrible phase of ever-increasing infection rates, the full intensive care units, the worrisome high daily number of corona deaths, for the benefit of all, rather continuing to drag ourselves through this period miserably,” Merkel said. “We’ve done it before. We can do it again now.”

The draft of this fourth law for the protection of the population in the event of an epidemic situation of national significance was adopted by the cabinet on Tuesday, Apr. 13 – as a formulation aid for the factions of the CDU/CSU and SPD in the German Bundestag. The Fourth Civil Protection Law contains an amendment to the Infection Protection Law. The Bundestag passed the law on Wednesday, 21 April. The Bundesrat will discuss on Thursday. The law is not subject to approval there.