After a heated debate, the German Bundestag has agreed to a new corona law. The law determines the corona measures that Germany can take next winter. As infection rates reach new record highs, the now valid emergency law needed for harsh measures across the country will expire in a week.
The new law is not yet final by parliament, because the Federal Council, a kind of Senate, has to agree to it tomorrow. There may still be enough opponents there to block the law after all.
3G at work and in public transport
The Bundestag wants the current emergency law to expire after a short transition period and that new steps will be replaced. The most important thing: people are only allowed to go to work and public transport if they have been vaccinated, recently recovered or tested. According to the new law, the federal states will also decide on the most radical measures themselves.
Now, for example, a federal state can still introduce a lockdown without submitting it to its own parliament. It was sufficient that the national parliament had given permission to do so with the temporary emergency law. But the majority of Parliament believes that decisions like this should be approved again by the parliaments of the federal states themselves, as is common in German democracy.
A disadvantage of that regional approach is that it can complicate the already uncluttered patchwork of rules and measures in Germany, which is much complained of, even more complicated. On the other hand, local decisions prevent harsh intervention where it is not necessary. In some federal states, the virus is tougher than in others, and advocates also point out that the freedoms of vaccinated people should not suffer from the choice of unvaccinated persons.
Furthermore, with this Act, an overall lockdown, a curfew or, for example, closures of schools and stores for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons, will no longer be possible. However, the federal states themselves can decide to refuse access to people who have not been vaccinated or recently cured, for example, in restaurants or at meetings.
In Berlin, opinions vary regarding the introduction of the 2G rule:
CDU: this is irresponsible
The plan led to a lot of discussion in parliament prior to the vote. It has been forged by the Social Democratic SDP, the Greens and the FDP, which together hope to form the new government soon. Most of their members voted in favour.
But a large part of Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) find it irresponsible to expire the current emergency law now that the number of infections is so fast, because it no longer allows a harsh measure such as an overall lockdown.
According to their group chairman Thorsten Frei, the three parties to combat the pandemic are moving in the wrong direction. “Please turn around anyway.”
Salient is that there is a lockdown in the air in Saxony. If the new law goes into effect, that lockdown should stop by 15 December, even if the number of infections there is still high. In this respect, proponents of the new law argued that the federal states themselves get more new opportunities for restrictive measures in return.
Decisive vote tomorrow
Tomorrow, the Federal Council will cast the decisive vote. In that council there are representatives of the state governments. And unlike in the national parliament, the Christian Democrats still have a firm finger in the porridge there. In ten out of the sixteen federal states, they are also in power. That may still be enough to stop the new law after all.