The corona numbers are increasing, the Minister of Health is looking forward to autumn with concern. He wants to quickly reach an agreement with the Minister of Justice to adjust the legal protection measures.

According to Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, Germany will soon be heading for a significant deterioration in the corona situation. “We are facing heavy waves in autumn and winter,” said the SPD politician on ZDF’s “heute journal”.

After submitting an expert report, Lauterbach promised to speed up the revision of the Infection Protection Act. In the spring, the provisions were severely reduced, and the current nationwide legal basis expires on September 23rd.

Question mark in the absence of data

On Friday, a committee of experts presented a long-awaited report on the effectiveness of previous corona protection measures. Accordingly, protective measures such as wearing a mask can continue to be helpful against the corona virus. But behind many other known conditions, the experts put question marks, due to a lack of sufficient data, no reliable assessments are possible.

“It will be a difficult autumn, we have to be prepared,” Lauterbach said in the ARD “Tagesthemen”. He believes that “we will have great difficulties with the BA.5 variant that is now spreading here”. He expects a very high number of cases, which could also lead to an overload of the critical infrastructure.

Lauterbach ruled out a lockdown like at the beginning of the pandemic on ZDF: “We wouldn’t repeat that.” However, it could be that one or the other measure makes sense again. Lauterbach did not want to give details, referring to confidential negotiations with Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP). They had already started a one-and-a-half-hour conversation on Friday. “I think we’ll be quick,” Lauterbach emphasized. In the next few weeks, a good infection protection law will be prepared.

Gassen warns of the planned transition to endemics

The German Association of Cities also warns to hurry. “The traffic light has to agree before the summer break. It is too late to start a legislative process for a new infection protection law in autumn, »said Managing Director Helmut Dedy to the newspapers of the Funke media group. The federal government should make it possible “to wear masks indoors in dangerous situations,” Dedy demanded. Access regulations for 2G/3G also belong in the toolbox.

The chairman of the board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, called for a departure from the incidence figures as the basis for far-reaching corona measures. When transitioning to endemics, politics should first and foremost focus on protecting risk groups, Gassen told the Rheinische Post. He understandably mentioned the limitation of a mask requirement to indoor areas or places with a higher risk of infection.

According to Gassen, school closures should be avoided. “It won’t come to that anymore,” made clear the FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr in the “Welt am Sonntag”. The head of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, proposed a round table of health and education ministers, doctors, educators and other experts in the Funke newspapers “to develop a viable corona strategy for schools and daycare centers”.

The number of infections has been rising again for some time, and the more contagious omicron subline BA.5 is already dominating the infection process. According to a survey, almost half of the people in Germany are in favor of stricter rules immediately. In a survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”, 49 percent answered in the affirmative whether the current corona measures should be tightened immediately. 43 percent were against, 8 percent undecided.

Debate about free citizen tests

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities is calling for the free corona citizen tests to be resumed soon in view of the worsening situation in autumn. “We assume that by autumn at the latest, when the next big corona wave threatens, there will have to be free tests across the board again,” said managing director Gerd Landsberg of the editorial network Germany (RND). The free rapid tests are an important building block for the fight against the pandemic.

Since Thursday there have only been free tests for risk groups and other exceptional cases. For tests, for example for family celebrations, concerts or meetings with people over 60, an additional payment of three euros is due. Anyone who wants such a test must sign that it is being done for this purpose. Lauterbach justified the restriction, among other things, with the high costs of the tests.

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) and the Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians responsible for billing had declared on Thursday, with reference to the difficulty in verifying the eligibility requirements, that they “will no longer be able to bill and pay out citizen tests in the future”. Lauterbach relies on a regulation with the doctors in the next few days.