German Parliament to End ‘Epidemic Situation’
Leaders of Germany’s newly-installed Bundestag – the lower house parliament – said Wednesday they will not extend the “epidemic situation of national scope” when it expires next month, though certain public health measures will remain to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The declaration of the health emergency allows the federal and state governments to order key coronavirus prevention measures without the approval of parliament. It was first established by the Bundestag in March 2020 and has been repeatedly extended.
But speaking to reporters in Berlin, leaders of the Social Democrat Party (SPD) – winners of last month’s parliamentary elections and likely members of the new government – said they plan to let the designation expire when it lapses November 25.
They said even though COVID-19 infection rates are on the rise, the situation had fundamentally changed, most significantly because about two-thirds of the population had been vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19.
But SPD Parliamentary Group Deputy Chairman Dirk Wiese said that November 25 will not be a “freedom day” from all COVID-19 safety measures, and the nation needs to go through the coming winter responsibly. He said the group agreed to transitional arrangements that will allow German states to enact “low-impact safeguards” until the beginning of spring.”
But Wiese said that one thing is certain, “there will no more be school closures, lockdowns or curfews again, as these measures are also disproportionate in the current situation.”
The lawmakers said some measures, like obligatory mask wearing in public spaces, restrictions on entry to certain venues to only those who have been vaccinated or financial support for workers who have been hit hard by the pandemic, will stay in place until March.
In addition, individual states can still decide to implement stricter measures, if needed.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press.