09.03.2022, Berlin: Karl Lauterbach (r, SPD), Bundesminister für Gesundheit, und Marco Buschmann (FDP), Bundesminister der Justiz, kommen zu einer Pressekonferenz zur Novelle des Infektionsschutzgesetzes (IFSG) im Bundesministerium der Gesundheit. Foto: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The traffic light coalition had hoped for a clear handout, but it couldn’t be given because the scientists had too little data and too little time. And because they had to agree on the lowest common denominator.

In one point, however, the report by the Committee of Experts on Corona Policy is a reckoning: with the central instrument, the Infection Protection Act (IFSG), and the legal construction of declaring an epidemic emergency of national scope.

This means that far-reaching powers may have been transferred to the executive branch, which was unconstitutional. Nothing has heated the spirits as much as the nationwide restriction of fundamental rights, for Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) it was the central instrument of enforcement. Comprehensive lockdowns or school closures are therefore hardly legally possible, so the countries should be given more powers of their own.

At the same time, the nationwide uniform and quick action prevented worse things from happening, especially in the first waves.

If things go well, the report can also settle the dispute between Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP). If a new package of measures is needed for autumn (the previous IFSG expires on September 23), then this should contain the following, also as a lesson from the expert report: The sufficient measures desired by the federal states – as an option, this includes compulsory wearing of masks indoors ( which are rated as sensible) and access restrictions, for example that only tested people can go to restaurants.

However, such restrictions would have to be based on clear, comprehensible criteria in the state regulations – and should not be imposed as a preventative measure.

Above all, the burden on the health system, the incidence figures are no longer suitable as a central indicator.

For future pandemics, it must also be regulated how, for example, economic damage can be measured more reliably and compensation rules can be provided.

Sure, instruments like the federal emergency brake will hardly be possible in the future. In order to avoid a renewed dispute in view of the other traffic light crises, the FDP should read the report properly. And also accept that even their own voters, especially older ones, only appreciate the free-liberal easing course to a limited extent in view of concerns about the unpredictability of the virus and its variants.

If the states are to decide more about pandemic policy themselves, then one should listen to their wishes and not want to continue to tell them, like the FDP, that they are practically no longer allowed to impose any measures. Instead, they should be given a sufficient set of tools – so that the situation in the country does not deteriorate further due to corona setbacks.