The Corona Freedom Day in Germany did not come on the day it was supposed to, specifically on March 20, 2022.
Despite the federal government’s decision to lift many of the COVID-19 restrictions, there are no drastic changes to the current regulations. Many federal states decided to delay the easing of such public health measures.
Current COVID-19 Situation in Germany
Last week, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported that there was a sharp decrease in the vaccination rate of the country. Only 60,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered at that time. This is in comparison to the 94,334 doses one week prior and the 109,408 doses two weeks prior to that.
As of March 20, 75.8% of the total population had received their primary immunization against COVID-19. This roughly equates to 63.1 million people. Only 58.2%, or 48.4 million, have gotten their booster dose. The reported values are lower than the 90% vaccination rate observed in other European countries.
On March 21, there were 92,314 new COVID-19 cases, 422 hospitalizations, and 13 deaths.
The 7-day incidence across the country was 1,714.2 cases per 100,000 people.
The New Infection Protection Act was Approved on March 18
Germany’s parliament approved the new law that effectively lifts most of the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place.
Under this law, masks will only be mandatory in public transport, hospital, and care homes. There will be no need to wear face masks in shops, restaurants, and schools.
Furthermore, proof of vaccination or recovery from infection with the coronavirus will not be a prerequisite to participate in activities.
Karl Lauterbach, the Federal Health Minister of Germany, said that “we can’t continue to shield the whole country to protect a small group of those unwilling to be vaccinated.”
The passing of the New Infection Protection Act does not mean the end of the pandemic. “The pandemic is unfortunately not over yet. We need further protective measures,” Lauterbach adds.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said that it was about time to adjust how the country tackles the problem of COVID-19. Despite the high number of new cases, it has not been as overwhelming compared to the previous waves. The number of deaths has also fared better this time around. With the protection that vaccination gives, only mild infections or none at all are expected.
“We are entering a new phase of the pandemic, in which we, like nearly all our neighboring countries, will be getting rid of nearly all protective measures,” Scholz said.
Each state will have the authority to implement public health measures as appropriate. Should they recognize hotspots where infections and hospitalizations are abruptly rising, they can enforce the necessary restrictions.
With the law supposedly taking effect last Sunday, Corona Freedom Day in Germany was expected to arrive.
Not Much Has Changed Since Corona Freedom Day in Germany
However, this was opposed by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). They claimed that this effort was done so that the federal government could keep their hands off of the COVID-19 situation in the country. It removes them from having the responsibility of addressing the problem.
The chairman of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), Reiner Hoffmann, also asked the federal government to reevaluate their decision. He said, “We have record case numbers, and in the fall the situation may once again worsen. We must not risk the workplace becoming a hotbed of infection again.”
Similarly, the state leaders in Germany thought that it was too soon to implement the regulations under the New Infection Protection Act. Removing many of the public health measures is incongruent with the current COVID-19 situation in the country. The likelihood of mild infections and the seemingly better numbers now are not enough reasons to promote Corona Freedom Day in Germany.
Klaus Holetschek, the Health Minister of Bavaria, said that “instead of a day of freedom, a day of irrationality is looming.”
They have also voiced their disagreement with how Berlin implements these decisions without any consultation with the rest of the states.
Because of this, a transition period was granted to the states in Germany. They can continue implementing current public health measures until April 2. From that day on, the federal mandates will be lifted.
The state of Bavaria will still require citizens to wear face masks in any setting until April 2. Access to nightclubs, cultural and sporting events, restaurants, and cafes will also be limited.
Berlin and Saarland will only implement the current COVID-19 restrictions until the end of the month.
Other states will keep the current public health measures until the month of April.
In general, the 3G and 2G plus rules remain in effect in the respective establishments. Masks and physical distancing are still implemented in the retail sector. It would be best to check the regulations of each state to know what exactly is permitted.
What are the New COVID-19 Regulations?
The following are expected to be implemented:
- Mask mandates will only take effect on local transportation services
- The wearing of face masks and testing for COVID-19 can still be required in hospitals and care facilities
- The 3G rule will not be implemented for long-distance rail travel. This means that vaccination, recovery, and testing are not required prior to boarding.
- The 3G rule will also be removed from workplaces. Companies have the freedom to implement their own public health measures as deemed suitable.
- The states can implement their own regulations, either continuing or adding to the current ones, if large infection clusters arise.