Current Corona situation Citizen tests to remain free until end of May

Bonn/Region · Despite high infection figures, first nationwide Corona protection requirements for millions of people have ended. The pace of vaccinations against the Corona virus continues to decline in Germany. And the Green Party demands that all of North Rhine-Westphalia be declared a Corona hotspot. Here are some recent developments around the pandemic as well as case numbers.

 No 3G rule any more, but masks will remain obligatory on buses and trains.

No 3G rule any more, but masks will remain obligatory on buses and trains.

Foto: dpa/Christoph Soeder

Corona tests likely to be free by end of May 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, Corona citizens' tests will continue to be free of charge until the end of May. On 31 March, the current Corona test regulation, which also includes the citizens' tests, expires. However, they will continue to be paid for, a ministry spokesperson said on Monday when asked. A corresponding ordinance was being prepared, which should be valid until the end of May. The portal "Business Insider" had first reported on this: In view of the recent increase in the number of infections, the federal government wants to extend the deadline. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance had agreed to guarantee the financing of the tests by the federal government for another two months for the time being. 

3G rule in public transport no longer applies in Bonn

As of Monday, 21 March 2022, the 3G rule on buses and trains in Bonn is no longer valid. This was announced by SWB. Passengers should now be able to use public transport again even without a convalescent status or proof of vaccination and a negative test. However, the mask requirement, whereby passengers must wear at least one medical mask on buses, trains, underground stops and indoors with customer traffic, remains in place. 

Green Party: All of NRW must be declared a Corona hotspot 

The Green Party demands that all of North Rhine-Westphalia be declared a Corona hotspot in order to be able to react quickly to further escalations of the situation. "This will allow us to continue to maintain effective protective measures - such as wearing masks indoors, especially when shopping and in schools," said Mehrdad Mostofizadeh, the Green Party’s health policy spokesperson, on Monday, explaining a corresponding emergency motion of his parliamentary group in the state parliament.

 SPD parliamentary group leader Thomas Kutschaty also called on the state government in Düsseldorf to initiate hotspot regions in the plenum as soon as possible. After all, the transitional period for the current protection instruments expires on 2 April.

 The state parliaments can declare a place, a region, or even an entire federal state a hotspot if they determine a particularly critical Corona situation there. However, the federal Infection Protection Act, which has been amended accordingly, only provides vague guidelines, as all minister presidents had already complained last week after a meeting of the federal and state governments.

 Threshold values for when a region is a hotspot are not specified. The general prerequisite is either that a dangerous virus variant is circulating there, or that there is a threat of hospital capacities being overloaded due to particularly high case numbers.

The chairman of the Conference of Minister Presidents, Hendrik Wüst (CDU), head of the government of North Rhine-Westphalia, had described the federal law as "the exact opposite" of what the federal states needed to be able to react quickly to dramatic Corona developments. The new regulation is "legally uncertain and practically unworkable". This is especially true for hotspot regulations in large territorial states with a large number of municipalities - such as NRW.

Speed of Corona vaccinations continues to decline

The pace of vaccinations against the Corona virus continues to decline in Germany. On Sunday, just under 9,000 vaccination doses were administered throughout the country, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Usually, there are still some additional numbers coming through a bit later. On Sunday a week ago, there were about 13,000 vaccinations, a fortnight ago almost 17,500. At least 63.1 million people (75.8 percent of the total population) have now received basic protection, which usually requires two shots. At least 48.4 million people (58.2 percent) have also received a booster vaccination.

19.5 million people (23.5 percent) have not yet been vaccinated. For 4.0 million (4.8 percent) of them, however, no vaccine has yet been licensed because they are four years old or younger.

First nationwide Corona requirements passé 

Despite high numbers of infections, the first nationwide Corona protection requirements for millions of people have come to an end. To travel by train with Deutsche Bahn, you no longer need to prove that you have been vaccinated, recovered or tested for 3G. However, the obligation to wear a mask on local and long-distance public transport continues to apply. The obligation to have 3G access certificates at the workplace has also been lifted - in future, companies will be able to define their own protection concepts. There continues to be widespread criticism of the relaxation course of the traffic light coalition. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) called on the federal states to implement the new legal framework, which allows for stricter requirements in critical situations, at least regionally. All federal states still want to use a transitional period and maintain previous rules until 2 April at the latest.

Lauterbach again defended the new regulations. "We cannot keep limiting the liberties of the entire population just because ten percent of the over-60s are not willing to be vaccinated," he said on ARD television on Sunday. FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr said, "Two years after the start of the first lockdown, we are now returning to normality." He added that the number of new infections was high. Fortunately, however, there is no threat of the health system being overburdened. This removes the basis for state restrictions on freedom. 

On Deutschlandfunk radio on Saturday, virologist Melanie Brinkmann pointed to a currently very high incidence of infection in the population. It was exactly "the wrong time to take tools out of the toolbox." In one fell swoop, we would have "a toothless tiger" in front of us. 

(Original text: dpa/ga; Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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