Stricter contact restrictions and an extension of the mask obligation – but christmas and new year’s eve at least in the closer family and circle of friends: with this line the heads of government of the countries go into the next consultations on the corona crisis with chancellor merkel on wednesday.
Contact restrictions are to be tightened from the beginning of december, but with a special rule: in the period from 23. December until 1. January meetings of a household with people from outside the household up to a maximum of ten people are to be made possible. Children up to 14 years of age will be exempt from this requirement. This is the result of a draft decision by the states for consultations with chancellor angela merkel (CDU) on wednesday. It was available to the german press agency on tuesday.
With the regulation christmas should be possible also in this year in the circle of family and friends, even if in the smaller framework, it says in the paper: "because these days are particularly important for the family and social cohesion."
The partial lockdown that has been in effect since the beginning of november, with the closure of pubs and restaurants as well as cultural and recreational facilities, is to remain in place until at least 20. December will be required.
On tuesday afternoon, the head of the chancellor’s office, helge braun (CDU), will meet with the heads of the state chancelleries of the federal states. The final decisions are then expected for this wednesday. Although the rapid increase in the number of corona infections has been halted, they are still at a high level.
An overview of the proposals by the prime ministers of the countries:
Extensions PART-LOCKDOWN: cultural and recreational facilities as well as catering establishments will remain closed, tourist accommodation prohibited. All non-essential contacts and all non-essential travels shall be further avoided. Employers should make home office possible without bureaucracy. Wholesale and retail trade will remain open – but mandatory masks will now also apply in front of stores and in parking lots. In the event of an incidence of "significantly" less than 50 new infections per 100.000 inhabitants within seven days and if other conditions are met, countries should be given the option to deviate from this. For extreme corona hotspots, countries should be able to decide on regional tightening as before.
Contact restrictions: contact restrictions are to be tightened up. "Private meetings with friends, relatives and acquaintances are to be limited to one’s own household and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of five persons," the country paper states, with children up to 14 years of age to be excluded. And for christmas and new year’s eve there should be a special regulation.
Mandatory masks: mandatory masks are to apply nationwide "in closed rooms that are open to the public or accessible in the context of visiting or customer traffic". And in city centers and other open-air places "where people are either in close quarters or not just temporarily", it will be compulsory to wear a face mask. The exact locations and times are to be determined by local authorities. Masks should also be compulsory in the workplace – but only if there is a distance of 1.5 meters to other people.
HIGHER EDUCATION: universities and colleges to switch to digital teaching as a matter of principle. Exception: laboratory activities, internships, practical and artistic training periods and examinations.
Contact rules for christmas and new year’s eve: during the period of 23. December to 1. On january 1, the states want to allow meetings of a household with non-household family members or non-household people up to a maximum of ten people. Children up to 14 years of age should be exempt from this rule. This should allow "celebrations with family and friends, albeit on a smaller scale". The minister-presidents call however to go before the christmas holidays into a preferably several-day domestic self-quarantane. "This can be done by. Christmas school vacations to be brought forward from 19.12.2020 to be assisted," states current draft resolution from states.
FIREWORKS: new year’s eve fireworks on busy public squares and streets want to prohibit the minister presidents, in order to avoid coarser group formations. "The local authorities determine the affected places and streets," says the paper. In principle, it is "recommended" to refrain from fireworks at the turn of the year – but there is no ban on their sale.
WORKFORCE HOLIDAYS: employers should consider, according to the will of the lander, whether workplaces are to be closed down either by company vacations or by rough home office solutions from the 23rd day of the year. December by 1. Can be closed on january. This is intended to implement the "stay at home" principle.
SCHOOLS AND KITAS: childcare facilities and schools should remain open. In regions with well over 50 new infections per 100.000 inhabitants within seven days, the states want to make masks compulsory from grade seven onwards, even in lessons. Such an obligation is also to be introduced for elementary school, fifth and sixth grade students. In "special infection hotspots," there are to be school-specific "more far-reaching measures for instructional design" such as hybrid instruction in older age groups as well as in graduating classes.
MORE QUICK TESTS AND NEW QUARANTINE RULES AT SCHOOLS: "to detect chains of infection, rapid antigen tests are to be used more intensively in schools," says the paper of the minister presidents. According to their will, the federal government should ensure "sufficient test capacities. If a schoolchild tests positive for corona, his class/group is to be placed in quarantine for five days. And after these five days "suspicion quarantine" a "decision testing by antigen rapid test" is to take place. Negative-tested schools to be readmitted to classes. "The lessons of the class can therefore be continued from day five."
Quarantine: the minister presidents propose that the federal and state governments agree to set the time interval for domestic quarantines at a standard ten days as a rule. This is possible with the available rapid antigen tests.
PROTECTION OF RISK GROUPS: the minister presidents want to improve the protection of risk groups such as those in need of care. Thus, within the framework of the corona testing strategy, 20 rapid tests per week are to be provided for each person in need of care. From the beginning of december, the federal government will make it possible for risk groups to buy a total of 15 FFP2 masks for a small contribution – that is, one per winter week.
FINANCIAL AID: november aid to firms and institutions affected by partial lockdown to continue in december. The federal government had already promised this. The details, however, are still open: "december aid" could cost considerably more, because december is a month of high turnover in the catering industry, for example – the comparative value for november aid is the turnover in the month of the previous year. In addition, brussel must approve new aids.
SOCIAL GUARANTEE: the federal government is to stabilize social security contributions at a maximum of 40 percent as part of the "social guarantee 2022. The states demand that any additional financial requirements, for example for health insurance, should be covered by the federal budget until 2022. There is now no talk of a corona "solidarity surcharge", as proposed by the SPD side. The federal government is already spending an extra five billion euros on statutory health insurance for 2021 – because there isn’t much room left to reach the 40 percent of gross wages mark. Since the average additional contribution for 2021 is to increase by 0.2 points, the social contributions will then already be 39.95 percent.
CORONA APP: in the fight against the corona virus, the countries are also relying on further development of the state warning app. In the next six weeks, the application is to receive three further updates.
Next BUND-lander-RUNDE: the lander-proposal does not contain an automatism for the demand of certain tests. However, it says: "the federal government and the states will agree by 15. December to vote on how to proceed." The lander therefore "assume that, due to the high incidence of infection, comprehensive restrictions will also be necessary beyond the turn of the year".