ARCHIV - 07.10.2020, Sachsen, Dresden: Ein Schild «Bitte Mundschutz tragen» ist am Eingang eines Krankenhauses angebracht. (Illustration zu "Die Ampel-Koalition hat das neue Infektionsschutzgesetz fertig ausgehandelt") Foto: Robert Michael/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

When Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) presented the key points for a new infection protection law last week together with his cabinet colleague Karl Lauterbach (SPD), he seemed satisfied.

The new regulation is proportionate, protects the vulnerable groups and helps to avoid overloading the critical infrastructure, explained Buschmann. “I am very happy that we were able to discuss this discreetly, seriously and amicably.”

But the consensus is now over – at least in Buschmann’s own party. The compromise that the justice minister negotiated with his colleague Lauterbach is met with resistance within the FDP.

Several members of parliament, above all Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki, have already stated that they will under no circumstances agree to the present proposal. Changes could be necessary so that the new Infection Protection Act can be passed in the Bundestag.

“I don’t see that a corresponding majority can be formed with this template,” Kubicki told the Tagesspiegel. On request, the FDP deputy leader listed a long list of criticisms of the planned infection protection law.

This includes, for example, the incidence-independent FFP2 mask requirement in long-distance and air traffic, which, from Kubicki’s point of view, “is not linked to a specific danger, but to seemingly arbitrary timing marks” – namely from October to Easter.

Kubicki also complained that there should still be an obligation to isolate people infected with corona, that the federal states are allowed to impose a mask requirement in schools and that there are no clear threshold values ​​as to when which measures should be possible.

In addition, there is an exception for loud criticism in the ranks of the FDP parliamentary group. In the future, the federal states should be able to impose a mask requirement in publicly accessible indoor areas.

In leisure facilities and gastronomy there is an exception for tested, recovered or newly vaccinated people – they are exempt from the mask requirement. According to the plans, only those whose last vaccination was no more than three months ago are considered to be freshly vaccinated.

The fear not only in the FDP: People could feel pressured into a fourth or even fifth vaccination in winter, although this is not medically indicated for them.

At the moment, the Standing Vaccination Committee (Stiko) does not recommend the fourth vaccination for younger people.

The critics in the FDP parliamentary group include, for example, the deputy Christoph Hoffmann. “A law that urges citizens to take a fourth dose with patronizing measures is unacceptable,” he told the Tagesspiegel. He will not agree to the draft in its current form.

MP Katja Adler also stated that the current draft contradicts the recommendations of the Stiko. “I welcome the debate in my group. It shows me that the law cannot be approved in this form,” she told the Tagesspiegel.

FDP MP Nico Tippelt also said he would not agree to the present proposal. In addition to the three-month deadline for vaccinations, he is bothered by the fact that countries can impose a mask requirement outdoors at outdoor events in the event that critical infrastructure and the health system are at risk of being overloaded.

MP Hoffmann also advocates abolishing the quarantine requirement for people infected with corona. “The social impact of the quarantine is also immense. Other countries are showing the way and dropping the quarantine obligation.

Because they understood that the epidemic cannot be prevented.” Federal Health Minister Lauterbach, on the other hand, rejects an end to the obligation to isolate. He fears that people who are otherwise infected might come to work and infect others there.

The timetable for the adoption of the new corona measures is tight. They are scheduled to come into force on October 1st. The FDP politician Volker Redder explains on request that he sees no reason at all to tighten the corona measures on October 1, unless the pandemic situation deteriorates significantly.

He considers a mask requirement for publicly accessible interiors to be disproportionate – especially since the mask is often not worn properly. “The mask requirement must be limited to sensitive places such as hospitals or old people’s homes,” he says.

Federal Minister of Justice Buschmann, on the other hand, considers the mask requirement to be an effective means of combating the pandemic and only at the weekend in the “Bild am Sonntag” certified it as the best cost-benefit ratio of all measures.

Within the FDP parliamentary group, heated debates are likely to be pending. Many leading FDP politicians support the compromise between Lauterbach and Buschmann and are satisfied with what the Minister of Justice has achieved.

As requested by the FDP, the federal states cannot impose curfews, lockdowns or school closures. Group circles say that critics of the proposal are in the minority in the group. This is a small group around FDP Vice Kubicki. Nevertheless, supporters do not rule out that there will be changes to the planned regulations.

The situation is tricky for the Liberals. They had lost a lot among older voters in the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia – which was also attributed internally to the fact that the FDP had slowed down the corona measures.

The negotiations for the new Infection Protection Act then went relatively quietly. The FDP does not want to give the impression that it does not take the pandemic seriously.

Now that individual FDP politicians are taking action against the new Infection Protection Act, there is internal concern that the party could appear divided. But at least as far as the three-month rule for vaccinations is concerned, there are also internal discussions in the other groups.