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The traffic light is facing fierce debates about ending the obligation to isolate people with corona. After the head of the panel doctor, Andreas Gassen, called for an end to the isolation regulations last weekend, the FDP is also in favor of it. Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD), on the other hand, strictly rejects Gassen’s initiative.

In the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”, the head of the panel doctor had called for an end to the isolation regulations in order to alleviate staff shortages – for example in the clinics. “Anyone who is sick stays at home. Anyone who feels healthy goes to work. That’s how we do it with other infectious diseases like the flu,” he said. The problem is not the many infections, but that those who tested positive stayed at home for several days even without symptoms.

There are many sympathizers in the FDP for this proposal. Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki advocated leaving the decision to people whether to stay at home. FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai also warned of staff shortages in systemically relevant areas if masses of people who tested positive without symptoms were in isolation. “The duration of isolation for Covid-19 should no longer be prescribed by the state, but should be determined by doctors’ sick leave,” said the FDP’s health policy spokesman, Andrew Ullmann, to the Tagesspiegel. “We must finally dare to take more personal responsibility!”

But both the SPD and the Greens as well as parts of the medical profession have a different opinion. “Infected people have to stay at home. Otherwise, not only will the number of cases increase even more, but the workplace itself will become a safety risk,” tweeted Health Minister Lauterbach. The chairman of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Eugen Brysch, explained that infected adults almost always have symptoms. “The isolation protects. Because this prevents others from getting infected.” More than five million people who have recovered have already suffered from long and post-Covid. “Andreas Gassen plays with people’s health,” said Brysch.

The debate about the end of the obligation to isolate falls at a time when the seven-day incidence is over 700 – and experts assume that there are many unreported cases and an actual incidence of up to 2000. In the intensive care units of the clinics, the absolute number of patients is currently twice as high as at the same time last year.

It is still not clear what measures politicians will take to counter the expected corona wave in autumn. The Union criticizes that the traffic light has so far left open which priorities it wants to set in the amendment to the Infection Protection Act. Discussions are still ongoing between the health and justice ministries about the measures that should be possible in the future. The legal basis for the now severely restricted rules expires in September.

Specifically, it is about which instruments should be made available to the countries to fight the pandemic – for example with regard to access restrictions for events, mask requirements or 2G/3G regulations. Although the FDP had recently indicated a concession to the mask requirement, at the same time FDP leader Christian Lindner insists that there should no longer be any general and nationwide restrictions on freedom. The measures should leave people with as much personal responsibility as possible. The debate about the end of the obligation to isolate is likely to add another sensitive point to the already difficult talks.