Nursing home residents are among the high-risk groups when it comes to Corona. Nevertheless, according to Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, masks are not compulsory in all homes. He wants that to change.

According to Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, without the rapid introduction of stricter corona requirements in nursing homes, there is a risk of many infections among the endangered, very old people.

Lauterbach therefore called on the operators of care facilities in Berlin on Wednesday to prescribe the wearing of masks and tests for visitors. “I appeal here to the facility providers to make use of their domiciliary rights,” said the SPD politician after consultations with home providers in Berlin.

The masks should be FFP2 masks if possible, which should be worn, said Lauterbach. All visitors should also be tested, the minister demanded. At the same time, there should be more pressure for those in need of care to have a fourth vaccination injected.

Currently only 30 percent of those in need of care have such a second booster vaccination, which significantly reduces the risk of mortality, said Lauterbach. It would be negligent to wait with the fourth vaccination for the expected vaccines in autumn that are adapted to the omicron variant – at least for high-risk groups.

If the measures are not taken, Lauterbach expects numerous infections among the residents of the home. “Otherwise we can expect significant outbreaks,” he said.

New regulations for autumn

Lauterbach admitted that it is currently not possible for the federal or state governments to prescribe masks and tests for homes. This is not provided for in the Infection Protection Act. But a new infection protection law is being prepared for autumn. In care facilities, however, a situation has already arisen in which protective measures make a lot of sense. Wearing masks and testing are no longer voluntary for visitors if the homes exercise their domiciliary rights accordingly.

Today it is actually the case that the mask requirement is not enforced in all care facilities and is not tested in all, said Lauterbach. “It’s handled very differently.”

The minister announced legal regulations for corona protection in care for the autumn. Among other things, it is planned that there should be officers for hygiene rules with tests and masks as well as for the progress of vaccinations in every facility. In addition, drugs should be used more frequently to alleviate the course of corona in infected people. For example, telephone hotlines for care facilities are also conceivable, explained Lauterbach.

Maria Loheide from the Diakonie board called for additional support from politicians if, in addition to the previous tasks in the homes, someone should also be responsible for vaccination and someone for hygiene management.

Free tests for relatives

Free rapid corona tests will continue to be available for caring relatives and people with disabilities and their carers in the future. This was announced by Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach on Wednesday. “We are thus expanding the circle of those entitled to claim, but maintaining the criterion for this: We protect risk groups through free citizen tests,” said the SPD politician.

The new Corona Test Ordinance, which significantly restricts free tests, was published in the Federal Gazette on Wednesday and, according to the ministry, the above-mentioned points had previously been added. It comes into force “the day after the announcement”, i.e. on Thursday. A ministry spokesman had previously expressly confirmed the effective date of June 30.

Partly because of the enormously high costs, in future free rapid tests will only be available for certain risk groups and people who cannot be vaccinated. For others, an additional payment of three euros is due.