German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (R) and German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann address journalists during a press conference to present a new protection law amid the Covid-19 pandemic on August 24, 2022 in Berlin. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

On Wednesday, the cabinet adopted key points for protective measures against corona infections in autumn and winter. The draft law “to strengthen the protection of the population and in particular vulnerable groups of people against Covid-19” is primarily based on mouth and nose protection. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) said it was “a good, moderate and measured concept”. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) emphasized that “a wide range of instruments” would be available.

This means that the federal states can again impose a mask requirement in shops from October if the number of infections increases, said Lauterbach. For long-distance trains and planes, however, a mask requirement should apply. Children between the ages of 6 and 14 and staff should also be able to wear medical masks. In clinics and nursing homes, a mask requirement should apply nationwide, where you should also have to prove a negative corona test before entering.

The countries should be given the opportunity to react to the development of the pandemic in two stages, depending on the infection situation. In the first stage, there are still exceptions to the mask requirement indoors. If a strong corona wave builds up, the mask requirement should apply without exception. In addition, upper limits can be specified for events.

Irrespective of this, organizers and restaurateurs should be able to exercise their domiciliary rights and impose their own admission rules. In addition, the countries can react to the pandemic events in a graduated manner according to the infection situation. “I’m not expecting a patchwork quilt,” said Lauterbach.

“I don’t hope that it has to be used in its entirety, but it must be possible to use it,” says Lauterbach. He made it clear “that there will be no further lockdown or school closures”. Buschmann also underlined this. From the fifth school year, federal states can again impose a mask requirement. In lower grades, compulsory testing to combat the pandemic could be reintroduced.

“With this set of tools, we can cope with the foreseeable corona wave in the fall,” said Lauterbach. “The mask requirement, vaccinations and upper limits in the interior can be used in a way that is appropriate to the situation.” The aim of the corona policy remains to “avoid high death rates, many lost work days and serious long-term consequences”.