More Covid measures needed in Germany ‘in due course’, says Health Minister

Germany's latest tightening of Covid rules, including 2G-plus in restaurants, is a big step forward but won't be enough to contain Omicron, says Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

More Covid measures needed in Germany 'in due course', says Health Minister
A sign on a pub in Mainz says it's 2G-plus rules - and people need a booster shot or current Covid test to enter. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

On Friday Chancellor Olaf Scholz and state leaders decided to tighten Covid restrictions nationwide, with plans to implement 2G-plus in the hospitality industry. 

It means that people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid – but haven’t had their booster shot – will have to take a rapid Covid test before visiting a bar, restaurant or cafe. People who are vaccinated and have a booster shot do not need a test.

States are currently implementing these rules and there may be some regional differences. 

READ ALSO: 2G plus – Germany tightens Covid rules in restaurants, bars and cafes

KEY POINTS: Germany’s plans to soften the impact of Omicron

On Sunday evening Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told German broadcaster ARD that the restrictions, including the changes to quarantine times,  were an “important step forward” and would make cafes and restaurants “safer”.

“I believe that this will help us,” he said, but added that it would not defeat the Omicron wave. “I think the number of cases will increase. So further measures will still be necessary, in due course. But for now, this is a very important step forward.”

When asked if at some point only people with booster vaccinations could have access to restaurants – meaning that vaccinated people would be banned – Lauterbach said, “No, so that doesn’t necessarily mean that, because we can also take other measures. But I think it is important to first give the measures we have now taken a chance to work.”

He added that people in Germany could do their bit by getting vaccinated and boosted.

“The more people boosted we have in society, the harder it is for Omicron to build a strong wave,” Lauterbach added.

Green Party health politician Janosch Dahmen told broadcaster ZDF he believed 2G-plus rules could be extended.

“We may also have to adopt further indoor areas with 2G-plus measures as additional protection, beyond the catering industry,” he said.

The Omicron wave is only at the beginning, he said. “And when we look at neighbouring countries, we see it’s a big problem everywhere that we have to deal with now.”

The more transmissible Omicron variant, which was first reported in South Africa in November, is spreading rapidly in Germany.

Experts believe that Omicron tends to lead to milder courses of the disease and that people who are infected need to be hospitalised less often.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister warns of ‘naive believe Omicron signals end of pandemic’

However, the German government’s expert council recently warned that the strong infection dynamics threaten to outweigh the advantage of milder courses of the disease.

There are concerns that if large numbers of people are infected at the same time it could still overload the healthcare system, and lead to many people off sick at the same time which could destabilise vital services.

Some leading experts are calling for other approaches.

Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck called for a “pragmatic approach” to the pandemic, and “to learn to live with the virus”.

“In contrast, the permanent state of alarm is tiring and not successful,” he told German daily Bild.

Streeck, however, urged that the burden in hospitals should “continue to be monitored closely and, if necessary, to react with measures”.

Germany on Monday reported 25,255 Covid cases and 52 deaths within the latest 24 hour period.

The 7-day incidence climbed to 375.7 infections per 100,000 people.

READ ALSO: Covid infections rise in Germany as Omicron spreads

German vocabulary 

In due course – zu gegebener Zeit 

Measures – (die) Maßnahmen

Entry/access – (der) Zugang

People who’ve received their booster vaccination – Geboosterte

Society/community – (die) Gesellschaft 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. first the country was told masks would slow the pandemic. then the country was told lockdowns would slow the pandemic. then the country was told the “[email protected]” would END the pandemic, and now that the boosters will finally bring us all to a safer place. meanwhile, there has been barely any resolution. how may boosters is enough? how many mandates are enough? when will the country start to demand more of its officials, ask important questions, challenge this narrative, and think for itself?

    1. Unfortunately I think most of society has been trained to believe the government want whats best for “the people”.
      We need to learn to live with this virus. And that means:
      1.Protecting the vulnerable, vaccine and shield. Just like we do with the flu.
      2. Forget vaccine passes/ mandates. There is zero evidence they work at all.
      3. Face masks must go. If you want to wear one it should be a personal choice.
      4. Get the economy fully open. Everyone can choose where they want to go.
      If you’re scared feel free to stay home. Let everyone else get on with it.

      I heard today that they have been doing studies on the T cell protection from the common cold seems to offer a very good protection from even contracting the covid 19. It sounded very promising. (If I can re find the link I will post it here.)

      We can’t stop covid. We can’t control it. Its going to do what virus’s do. But the damage we are doing to the young generations is inexcusable. We need to end this madness.

  2. I am confused in that:

    One not vaccinated ‘may’ have a Covid-19 infection which, ‘may’ infect vaccinated people.

    Those that have received vaccinations, who in turn ‘may’ benefit from a less debilitating condition, ‘if’ infected, could pass it onto the unvaccinated, it being the latter’s choice to risk debilitating conditions, if that is in fact the case.

    Reference to RKI Status reports e.g. do not show drastic changes to ICU occupancy. Said occupancy alleged heavily by Media and Government members to being touted around as mainly unvaccinated cases!

    Note: If hospitalised with only the first vaccination one is classed as unvaccinated.

    Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics?

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End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden’s Covid laws really means

With the expiry of Sweden's two temporary Covid-19 laws, the downgrading of the virus's threat classification, and the end of the last travel restrictions, April, officially at least, marks the end of the pandemic. We explain what it means.

End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden's Covid laws really means

What are the two laws which expire on April 1st? 

Sweden’s parliament voted last week to let the two temporary laws put in place to battle the Covid-19 pandemic expire on April 1st.

The first law is the so-called Covid-19 law, or “the law on special restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 illness”, which was used during the pandemic to temporarily empower the authorities to limit the number of visitors to shops, gyms, and sports facilities. It also gave the government power to limit the number of people who could gather in public places like parks and beaches. 

The second law was the “law on temporary restrictions at serving places”. This gave the authorities, among other things, the power to limit opening times, and force bars and restaurants to only serve seated customers.  

What impact will their expiry have? 

The immediate impact on life in Sweden will be close to zero, as the restrictions imposed on the back of these two laws were lifted months ago. But it does means that if the government does end up wanting to bring back these infection control measures, it will have to pass new versions of the laws before doing so. 

How is the classification of Covid-19 changing? 

The government decided at the start of February that it would stop classifying Covid-19 both as a “critical threat to society” and “a disease that’s dangerous to the public” on April 1st.

These classifications empowered the government under the infectious diseases law that existed in Sweden before the pandemic to impose health checks on inbound passengers, place people in quarantine, and ban people from entering certain areas, among other measures. 

What impact will this change have? 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a disease that’s dangerous to the public”, or an allmänfarlig sjukdom, people who suspect they have caught the virus, are no longer expected to visit a doctor or get tested, and they cannot be ordered to get tested by a court on the recommendation of an infectious diseases doctor. People with the virus can also no longer be required to aid with contact tracing or to go into quarantine. 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a critical threat to society”, or samhällsfarlig, the government can no longer order health checks at border posts, quarantine, or ban people from certain areas. 

The end of Sweden’s last remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions

Sweden’s last remaining travel restriction, the entry ban for non-EU arrivals, expired on March 31st.  This means that from April 1st, Sweden’s travel rules return to how they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

No one will be required to show a vaccination or test certificate to enter the country, and no one will be barred from entering the country because their home country or departure country is not deemed to have a sufficiently good vaccination program or infection control measures. 

Does that mean the pandemic is over? 

Not as such. Infection rates are actually rising across Europe on the back of yet another version of the omicron variant. 

“There is still a pandemic going on and we all need to make sure that we live with it in a balanced way,” the Public Health Agency’s director-general, Karin Tegmark Wisell, told SVT

Her colleague Sara Byfors told TT that this included following the “fundamental recommendation to stay home if you are sick, so you don’t spread Covid-19 or any other diseases”.