What politics is now discussing

Angela Merkel, Jens Spahn and Olaf Scholz

The government could decide to tighten the measures in the coming week.

(Photo: imago images / Eibner)

Berlin Actually, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Prime Minister did not want to discuss a possible extension and tightening of the lockdown until January 25. The federal-state conference was brought forward to this Tuesday – because of concerns about mutations of the coronavirus, which are considered to be significantly more contagious. Science still has no clear answers as to how justified these fears really are. But caution rules.

The new CDU boss and North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister, Armin Laschet, said on ZDF that he was assuming “that we will again tighten the situation.” Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU) also insisted on a harder lockdown. “The Prime Minister’s Conference has to decide on tightening so that we can finally get the numbers down,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. Brinkhaus also referred to the mutation of the corona virus, which presumably came from Great Britain.

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This is what the team of the new CDU chairman looks like

Armin Laschet

Armin Laschet was elected the new chairman of the CDU with 521 votes.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The new chairman of the CDU, Armin Laschet, will also be supported by five deputies in the future. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn, who was previously a member of the Presidium, fought with Laschet in the team for his victory and was scheduled to be his vice-president in advance. So Laschet was able to unite the Spahn supporters behind him.

However, Spahn only received 589 of the 965 votes. Internally it was said that the supporters of the defeated Friedrich Merz had refused his vote. Others said that Spahn had received the receipt for not behaving fairly on election day: After the candidates’ speeches, he had spoken in the question and answer session and not asked a question, but promoted Laschet and himself.

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CDU party congress: The CDU votes, the Internet is watching – politics

There are more than 600 kilometers between Berlin and Sinzig. If you want to visit the picturesque 17,000-inhabitant city on the Middle Rhine, take the ICE to Cologne and stroll up the Rhine for an hour on the regional train. But on Saturday the connection between the two cities does not really want to be established. In the Berlin fair, the digital question time is running at the CDU party congress, Hans-Werner Adams is connected, 1000 delegates and many more observers are waiting for his question. But the delegate from Sinzig remains silent. And then becomes the secret star of the day.

Everyone wants to hear the funny looking man from the grassroots talk. They are looking for him on Twitter using the mega satellite dish, shouting the virtual throat out of their throats: Mr. Aaaaadams? In the meantime, he made it to the third most popular search term of the evening. And many ask: what was he trying to ask?

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Of course, you don’t find out at first. This virtual social experiment of choosing a new CDU boss on the screen and letting the Internet watch it worked surprisingly well, by the way. While the Twitter community promptly applauds the mysterious man without a voice to the fourth candidate, oh, new Chancellor, two reap significantly less understanding, which is actually about.

Jens Spahn and his verbal cheerleading resent him

One of them: Friedrich Merz. The trigger is his statement that he couldn’t have a problem with women, otherwise his wife would not have married him and his daughter would have shown him the yellow card long ago. That backfires promptly: The malice is great. “Yesterday”, “embarrassing”, “that is exactly the problem”, judge the Twitter judges. And his supposed female fan base, the “Women for Friedrich Merz”? Be silent, the hashtag has long been hijacked by Merz preventers.

Speaking of hijacked: Twitterers Jens Spahn take his verbal cheerleading for team partner Laschet at least as badly in the question and answer session. While some speak humorous of the “telephone joker”, others criticize the action as an “unfair move” and “sleight of hand”. Jan-Marco Luczak, Berlin head of the CDU, rushes to help: He thinks it’s okay to advertise for the team partner, after all, normal party congresses are not just followed by questions, but also by a debate.

And Laschet, the reconciler from Aachen? While someone on Twitter asks whether carnival is now becoming a civic duty, another posts a Merkel figure with a Laschet face and the election winner is haunted as fairy-like glittering chancellor through network. Including diamond! No wonder, since Laschet is considered to be the personified continuation of Merkel’s course.

In fact, after Laschet’s election, no verbal fanfares were heard on social media. It is rather a mixture of the obligatory congratulations from political friends and respectful colleagues from other parties, seasoned with Nonsense from the AfD. But above all, many seem relieved that Merz was prevented. A tweet pulls you Soccer comparison, which should summarize the mood quite well:

And while the merciless hashtag #merzverhütung is picking up speed on Saturday afternoon, its short-term attack on the executive chair in the Ministry of Economic Affairs is being copied by polemics. One blasphemes that he offered Laschet to invite himself to his birthday party. Another said he had offered the Emperor of China to become Venezuela’s drug commissioner.

Meanwhile, Markus Söder, the Union’s joker, is noticeably quiet. In any case, the network has not yet written it off: Sometimes it appears as intruder carrying a folding chair, sometimes when toying with the greens Fantasy-Gestalt. He cuts a fine figure with various Twitter polls. There the users already bet on him as a candidate for chancellor.

And Mr. Adams fell silent? After the election, she still speaks out in the media. One learns: He wanted to call for a holistic view of economic, social and environmental policy. And: The problem with the technology must have been “somewhere in the CDU house”. This is a signal for social media users to assign him an appropriate role in politics in the future: Adams is now a hot tip for the office of digital minister on Twitter.

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New CDU chief: Armin Laschet’s economic policy plans

New CDU boss Armin Laschet

Laschet does not want to break with Angela Merkel’s era. What is needed is the “continuity of success,” he said in his application speech.

(Photo: Reuters)

Berlin Armin Laschet looks exhausted, worn out between the government work in the corona crisis and the internal party election campaign for the CDU chairmanship. It is Wednesday evening, the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister rushed into his office from the cabinet meeting, he is late.

An interview with Handelsblatt awaits him by video conference, the last one before the all-important party congress. It will “bring about a turning point,” Laschet quips tortured after the conversation, as if he didn’t really believe it himself. Then he has to go to the next appointment.

The effort in the past few months has paid off. Laschet, who was long considered a procrastinator in the CDU, put everything on one card with his candidacy for the CDU chairmanship – and won. In the runoff election he won with 521 votes, his rival Friedrich Merz got 466 votes. Foreign politician Norbert Röttgen was eliminated in the first ballot.

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When? What exactly? And how long ?: The struggle to tighten the corona

When? What exactly? And how long?
The struggle for corona tightening

Germany is heading towards additional everyday restrictions. The infection numbers and many political statements suggest this. The question, however, is: what exactly should come – and how long?

Shortly before discussions about possible further tightening of the lockdown due to the corona pandemic, the federal and state governments are wrestling about how to proceed. Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther called for not just talking about new restrictions. “We also have to describe what that means in the months of February, March, April, when certain incidence values ​​are fallen below, which areas we can then reopen permanently,” said the CDU politician at Phoenix. The corona vaccinations that have been started represent a major step forward; vaccines will be easier to use in the future. As the manufacturer Biontech’s updated recommendations for action show, the preparation can now also be transported as a finished dose in the syringe for up to six hours at 2 to 8 degrees.

How long will the schools be closed?

(Photo: imago images / Jochen Tack)

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn spoke of good news, especially for those in need of care who are waiting at home for a vaccination. The countries could now organize more flexibly. “The fact that finished vaccination doses in syringes can in future be prepared for transport in the vaccination centers is a very practical help in the fight against the pandemic,” said Spahn. So far, it has been recommended not to transport diluted vaccine between facilities – i.e. between the vaccination centers in countries where the preparation is stored at minus 70 degrees and vaccination missions in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Six instead of five vaccine doses can now be drawn from one ampoule.

The vaccine from Biontech and its US partner Pfizer was the first to be approved in the EU at the end of 2020, and the preparation from the US manufacturer Moderna is now also used in Germany. With a view to containing the corona virus, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers are moving forward to their consultations next Tuesday – the background is still high numbers of infections and deaths and concerns about a new, probably more contagious virus variant. Günther said that, of course, one had to deal with the mutation and whether the measures were sufficient. However, it was found that the restrictions that had just been tightened had an effect. “The number of infections is falling in many countries.” In Schleswig-Holstein, for example, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days is now a good 85. This is still a long way from 50 – this seven-day incidence is targeted nationwide. But there is still a little time until the end of the month, said Günther.

Everyone pulls together – pretty much – in the same direction

Chancellery chief Helge Braun considers an “effort” to be necessary until the summer. The number of infections would have to be reduced, especially the next three to four months would be difficult, he said on Friday evening at the digital CDU party conference. In summer everything will work out very well. Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow spoke of three difficult months and told t-online: “Hopefully the better weather and additional vaccines will help us from Easter.” CDU Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus pleaded for a comprehensive expansion of the measures. “Better to do it right now – instead of an endless loop into the summer”, he told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”.

Saar Prime Minister Tobias Hans told the “Rheinische Post”: “More vaccinations alone will not prevent another lockdown.” Hans sees the need to catch up when working from home as well as when wearing FFP2 masks. “This not only protects others, but also yourself,” emphasized the Prime Minister. These more effective masks should “be readily available to all citizens”. Hans urged caution, especially with a view to the threat of the spread of mutated virus variants in Germany.

Brinkhaus and Hans were open to considering night exit restrictions. “Everything has to be put on the table,” said Brinkhaus on WDR. Hans said: “This applies to the subject of curfew, but also to the discussion about working in the home office.”

City Council President Burkhard Jung also supported the federal government’s deliberations on stricter rules. “The lockdown has done too little so far,” Jung told the newspapers of the Funke media group. The number of corona deaths every day is particularly frightening. Therefore, easing would not be an option. For schools and day-care centers, there is “currently usually no opening perspective,” said the Mayor of Leipzig.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, spoke out in favor of fines against companies that refused to use the home office more during the corona pandemic. “If companies become sources of infection and social costs arise as a result, although this could be avoided by more home office in the company, then fines are also required for companies,” he told the “Saarbrücker Zeitung”.

Close vital businesses?

SPD parliamentary group vice-president Bärbel Bas was open to the arrangement of a home office obligation for areas in which this can be implemented. “The home office must now be made possible wherever possible,” emphasized Bas. In other countries there is already an obligation to work from home, “we have to discuss that,” said the SPD politician to the newspapers of the editorial network Germany (RND).

The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach told the “Rheinische Post” that there are now two options: “Either this form of lockdown continues for at least six to eight weeks, with 500 to 1000 deaths a day and a high risk of it the mutation is more widespread “- or you can opt for a really hard lockdown, but it would not last that long”. Then non-vital businesses would have to be closed.

The SPD parliamentary group leader in the Düsseldorf state parliament, Thomas Kutschaty, warned in the “Rheinische Post” with a view to virus mutations against “to wait with new protective measures until our incidence numbers rise to 1000”. He was referring to numbers from Great Britain.

Left parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch demanded in the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” above all additional, nationwide measures to protect nursing homes. In addition, air traffic should be massively restricted to protect against virus mutations.

The health authorities reported 18,678 new infections and 980 new deaths within one day, as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Saturday. Nationwide, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days is now 139. However, there are still significant differences among the federal states. Thuringia has the highest number of cases with 268, Bremen has the lowest with 80.

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Favorite in the CDU race? The ambiguous Merkel

At an online party convention, the CDU wants to end its almost one-year stalemate on the leadership issue. But there is much more to it. And then there is a special wish from the Chancellor.

Photo series with 10 pictures

It seems like an inconspicuous sentence that Angela Merkel gives her party in her greeting at the digital CDU party congress. But for some it has a signal effect. “I hope that a team will be elected that takes the fate of our proud People’s Party into its own hands and then works with all its members to find the right answers for the tasks of the future,” said the Chancellor on Friday with a view to the eagerly awaited New election of the CDU boss this Saturday.

After that, it only takes seconds and Merkel’s wish is making waves on social networks. Some see the Chancellor’s remarks as an indirect invitation to the 1001 delegates to elect Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, as the successor to Chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Merkel always bit her tongue

Only Laschet appears in the team’s election for the chairman, together with Jens Spahn. Laschet has promised to propose the Minister of Health as deputy chairman if he wins. The other two applicants, ex-Union parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz and foreign politician Norbert Röttgen, also have teams of supporters, but they can only vote as solo applicants.

In the past few months, Merkel has bit the tongue on countless questions about her favorite for the party chairmanship and said nothing. So has the Chancellor forgotten for a moment the restraint she has imposed on her? On purpose? There is no answer to this. Because of course you can understand her sentence simply to say that she speaks out for unity and for a team made up of a new chairman, vice-party leader and the entire board.

Nervous mood in the CDU

But the discussions about Merkel’s “wish” clearly show how nervous the mood in the CDU is. Not only because it has to clarify the important personnel issue at one of the most unusual party congresses in its history. For the first time ever, an electoral party conference is being held in Germany in a purely digital manner. And what’s more: In the middle of the Corona crisis, the delegates are setting the course for the time after the Merkel era and for success or failure in the federal election.

Apropos Corona: It is the virus that forces the CDU to be the first party in Germany to decide on the new chairman via an online party conference. This not only harbors technical risks. This also puts the candidates under particular pressure. Right next to the makeshift hospital built on the Berlin exhibition grounds because of the pandemic is the studio in the so-called “Hub 27” from which the CDU leadership has to bring the party conference to the offices and living rooms of the delegates.

Mid-course or more conservative?

On Saturday, the candidates have 15 minutes each to advertise themselves in their introductory speeches. To do this, they can only speak into a camera – but they cannot feel whether they hit the hearts of the delegates. Does a gag work or does it look embarrassing? Do you hit the mark or do you frighten your followers? No applause can be heard, no mood can be felt. There is no echo from the depths of a party conference hall. It should be quiet and sterile, just like in a television studio.

Even for the best speaker, it is a challenge to maintain the tension. Pretty sure the candidates are training for the particular situation. And then the delegates: Does the family or the neighbor sit on the couch when they vote in the “digital voting booth” on the CDU chairmanship? Surprises cannot be ruled out. A remarkable experiment for a pretty important decision – that’s what one of the CDU leaders calls the online format under Corona conditions.

In the end it comes down to the central question: is the CDU with Merz becoming more conservative again? Or does she and Laschet basically stay on Merkel’s middle course? It has something of a directional decision, this vote. And the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder is always part of the party. The CSU chief is far ahead of the three candidates for the CDU chief post in surveys when it comes to the candidate for chancellor.

AKK: “This step was difficult”

The party congress also has another meaning: It draws a line under Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s not always happy term of office. In her 15-minute speech, the Saarland woman goes into court very personally and emotionally with her decision to give up the party leadership after only two years.

“This step was difficult. But it was carefully considered and it was the right one,” says the defense minister, who has to fight back tears again and again when she says thanks. AKK is also self-critical: “Not always being able to live up to your expectations and my own demands is painful – even today,” she says to her supporters.

Something else is noteworthy on this evening: While Söder Kramp-Karrenbauer from Munich expressly thanks for her work as party leader, nothing of the kind can be heard from Merkel. She prefers to praise the entire team that organized the party conference. “Dear Annegret” still belongs to this team.

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TV criticism of Maybrit Illner: irrationality as a corona principle

AOn Thursday there was an interesting report from the President of the Association of Intensive Care Physicians, Gernot Marx. It would look like “as if we had passed the climax among intensive care patients”. He also denied the necessity of the dreaded triage and thought January 26th was a good date for new decisions. Then it would be easy to judge what “the right measures” are. Of course, Marx already knew the problem of mutated viruses on Wednesday. But now we are asking ourselves on Friday morning why suddenly none of it was right on Thursday evening?

Epidemiologically and virologically nothing has changed. What has changed is the politics determined by a no longer comprehensible irrationality. It has gone into panic decision-making mode, where we citizens have to reckon with changes of course every few hours that obviously lack a minimum of logic.

This broadcast by Maybrit Illner was a harrowing document for this matter. In fact, it no longer occurred to anyone to even take note of this view of the morning in the evening. Instead, there was cheerfully arguing: Member of the Bundestag Karl Lauterbach (SPD) made the strange statement that nobody could have expected the mutated virus and its higher infectiousness. It is an age-old scientific finding that such effects can be determined with influenza and coronaviruses. It got even better when Lauterbach immediately spoke of a kind of “new pandemic”. Why is it a new pandemic because a virus is more infectious but by no means more lethal? There is also no indication that these mutations could change anything in the previous demographic risk profile.

We don’t know anything, but it doesn’t matter

Lauterbach represents the type who always knows everything. In reality we don’t know anything. At the moment we don’t know where people are infected. There is still a lack of representative studies that cover social characteristics such as occupation and the associated risks. We also don’t know how many people are currently infected. For a long time now, tests have only been carried out on people with symptoms. There are also no statistics on the number and results of rapid tests. These data are not collected. We don’t even know how the new virus variants spread in the population. The genome sequencing required for this has not yet been done by us.

By the way, there wasn’t a single virologist who saw it as a serious problem in the past twelve months. Instead, a few days ago professional societies, with the help of the media, pulled an old demand for genome sequencing from the time before the pandemic out of the association’s moth box. The goal was clear: To blame the Federal Minister of Health for your own failure, if at all. Jens Spahn has a difficult time, even when he formulates things that are taken for granted. In an individual interview he once again made it clear that the shortage of vaccines in the initial phase will inevitably be one of the restrictions of a vaccination strategy. Everyone knew that, but almost everyone has long since forgotten. But Spahn can be accused of having given in to the irrationalism that is rampant on all media channels in the vaccination debate.

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What politics is now discussing

Berlin Germany continues to struggle with high numbers of infections: This Friday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 22,368 new corona infections within 24 hours and a seven-day incidence of 149 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. At the same time, the spread of two significantly more contagious virus mutations is a cause for concern. Scientists believe it is possible that this is one reason why the number of infections has stopped falling.

Given the current situation, Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to bring the meeting with the Prime Minister forward. It should take place on Tuesday, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert – and not on January 25, as originally planned.

Merkel had previously received support from the country leaders to bring the talks forward. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) said on Thursday evening on the ZDF program “Maybritt Illner” that he was expecting a meeting in the coming week. Malu Dreyer, Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, remarked on this Friday morning in the ZDF morning magazine that she would have pleaded to meet earlier anyway.

The discussion about tightening the measures is gaining momentum in politics; more and more proposals – old and new – are being debated.

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Read an overview of the current status of the discussion here:

1. Completely close schools and kindergartens

Saxony’s Prime Minister Kretschmer believes that significantly tougher restrictions are necessary. On ZDF, he advocated shutting down kindergartens “completely” and closing schools. This would mean that the facilities would only offer emergency care for parents in systemically important professions. This corresponds to the regulation in the first lockdown in spring 2020. However, emergency care in schools could also be further restricted

In addition, the measures in the individual federal states are already different. While in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, in principle all pupils should study from home by January 31st, provided they are not in emergency care, in Saxony, for example, pupils in the final year should attend school again from January 18th.

2. Increase the protection of nursing homes

Saxony’s Prime Minister Kretschmer suggests “entry bans” unless there is a negative rapid test. In Berlin, Health Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) announced on Thursday that residents may not receive any more visitors for the time being if a corona case occurs in the facility. A large proportion of the people who died from or with Corona lived in old people’s and nursing homes.

People are particularly at risk due to their age and possible previous illnesses. Nevertheless, measures like those in Berlin are controversial. Critics point out how important contact with relatives is for residents.

3. Send more employees to the home office

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil became clear in an interview with the Handelsblatt: That employees should work from home wherever possible is “not just any appeal, but a very clear message from the federal and state governments to the economy,” said the SPD Politician. As long as people take buses and trains to the office or factory, there is a risk that they will infect themselves or others while they are on the way or at work.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is therefore addressing employers and employees again this Friday in a joint appeal with employer President Rainer Dulger and DGB boss Reiner Hoffmann to switch to the home office even more than before.

A legal obligation is not so easily possible. Although the pandemic could justify interference with the employer’s right to determine the place of work, the director of the Institute for Labor Law and Social Security Law at the University of Bonn, Gregor Thüsing, told Handelsblatt.

“But proportionality must be maintained.” In other words, as long as the hygiene regulations at the workplace can also be complied with by other means, the employer cannot ban employees to their homes. “Home office cannot be mandatory for ventilation, distance and mask at the workplace,” said Thüsing.

4. Restrict local public transport

So far, it is unclear what restrictions will be imposed on local public transport. The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, sees an urgent need for action here. He justified this with the fact that the population restricts their mobility significantly less than in the first lockdown in spring. On Sundays in December, for example, it was shown that people were out and about much more often than in spring.

The first tougher measures are already emerging in politics. “The local public transport, not so many people are allowed to ride. From my point of view, that is the order of the day, ”said Saxony’s Prime Minister Kretschmer. The “Bild” newspaper reported that the Chancellery was thinking about stopping local and long-distance public transport. CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak denied the report.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert emphasized that it was about fewer contacts in local public transport. “What it doesn’t mean is: to stop public transport.”

Criticism of such considerations comes from the opposition. “More than half of the employees cannot work from home, should they sit even closer in the public transport?” Tweeted the deputy chairman of the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Susanne Ferschl. Either you expand the clocking or you really have to shut down operations. “Wash me, but don’t get me wet” doesn’t work, says Ferschl.

5. Close entire businesses

The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach urged the companies to do their part to bring the lockdown to a successful end. “Otherwise we may at some point be forced to shut down factories too. We might even have to approach industrial production, ”he told the newspapers of the Funke media group. But nobody could want that.

The Association of the Chemical Industry (VCI) and the Federal Chemical Employers’ Association (BAVC) clearly opposed such mental games.

Since the chemical-pharmaceutical industry is making key contributions to containing the pandemic – in vaccine production, the manufacture of essential drugs or as the most important upstream supplier for diagnostics, medical and laboratory equipment manufacturers – such a measure would considerably weaken the fight against corona, according to a press release of the two associations. In addition, the closure of factories is not economically justifiable for the industrial nation of Germany.

6. Stricter contact rules

After research by the business magazine “Business Insider”, the Chancellery is examining a tightening of the Corona contact rules. Accordingly, for an as yet indefinite period of time, only meetings with a permanent person outside of one’s own household should be allowed, according to government circles. So far: You can only meet one person privately and publicly, but you can do that with friends from different households.

This one-friend rule could then become the one-friend rule. How this could be implemented in practice is unclear. The reaction of the countries according to “Business Insider”: “That’s rubbish”.

7. Force vaccination

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) calls for more speed in vaccination. It is of no use if the supply only improves in the second quarter, said the SPD politician on ZDF. However, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) had dampened the hope that high numbers could be available very quickly. Nevertheless, things are progressing: “Today we have 840,000 people vaccinated in Germany,” he said on Thursday. “The first percent of the population is vaccinated.”

This goes hand in hand with the discussion about a possible vaccination requirement for certain groups. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Söder had brought the nursing staff into play to counter the low willingness of the group. Health Minister Jens Spahn rejected this. “There will be no compulsory vaccination in this pandemic,” says the CDU politician.

8. Curb the spread of the mutation

“We need more test sites that can recognize the mutation”, demands Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) in the newspapers of the Funke media group. Health Minister Spahn had announced that he wanted to counter the mutation with further entry restrictions and tests. In addition, this week it will be decreed that a lot more research will be carried out into the extent to which mutations occur.

9. Obligation to wear an FFP2 mask

Bavaria has shown the way: In the Free State, from January 18, it is mandatory to wear an FFP2 mask in public transport and when shopping. “Compared to all the holey scarves, some of which are there, and community masks worn for around eight months that you can find in public transport, an FFP2 mask is a clear improvement in every respect,” Prime Minister Söder justified his decision.

After initial criticism, masks are now also to be made available free of charge for those in need. The prices for masks had already risen after Söder’s announcement. Such a duty could also be extended to the federal government. However, experts emphasize that the availability of the masks and the correct handling are essential.

The President of the Society for Aerosol Research, Christof Asbach, warned against misconceptions regarding the safety of FFP2 masks. These would not offer 100% protection even if they were worn perfectly, Asbach told the German press agency.

More: Dealers are preparing for corona lockdown until Easter – and fear bankruptcies

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