The federal government had announced it, now it is approaching: return to normalcy. The Corona rules, which have determined the daily lives of most citizens for the past two years, have largely been gone since early April. Showing vaccinations or test certificates in restaurants and wearing masks in supermarkets or stores is a thing of the past in most federal states today.
Masks are only mandatory in health facilities and in public transport
The reason for this is that the countries have decided not to make use of the so-called hotspot rule. It allows for the continued application of strict measures. Without the Hotsport rule, only general protective measures in facilities such as clinics and nursing homes may apply. Mask wearing and mandatory testing are part of this e.g. Masks are still mandatory on buses and trains.
Only two states use the hotspot rule
Only current brand Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg make use of the hotspot rule. Both countries are initially dependent on extended measures such as mask requirements indoors until the end of April – and justify this in the first instance with the high number of infections.
Hamburg Senate spokesman Marcel Schweitzer justified the move at the end of March with concerns that the health care system would be overloaded without extended protection measures. Experience from the pandemic shows that an increasing number of infections is leading to an increasing strain on the health system and hospitals with a time lag, he said. The numbers have already risen “significantly”. The time to act is “now”.
Encourages voluntary wearing of masks
The countries that do not want to make use of the rule are against this. So did the governments Saxony, Berlin, Brandenburg and Schleswig Holstein clearly to limit itself to the basic protection measures that will be permitted in the future under the Infection Control Act. Hesse had done it before. Similarly decided Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. At the same time, the governments of the countries urged people to voluntarily wear masks indoors.
Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther said the corona situation was at times challenging for the state’s own hospital system, but generally “manageable”. According to Günther, the state government in Kiel also recommended wearing masks in e.g. crowds. Anyone who does this must also be treated “with respect”.
When can the hotspot rule be used?
According to the new Infection Control Act, hotspots are areas where “there is a concrete risk of a dynamically spreading infection situation”. This is the case when a dangerous virus variant spreads – or the number of infections increases sharply and at the same time there is a risk of congestion in the hospitals.
The respective Land Parliament shall, by decision, declare that such a situation exists. A hotspot can be limited to one district, but can also cover larger areas and even an entire federal state.
What applies in hotspots?
In hotspots, more extensive mask requirements can be set than those set out in basic protection – for example in supermarkets. It is also possible to reintroduce a distance requirement of 1.50 meters in public spaces, especially indoors.
The Hotspot Regulation also allows the introduction or maintenance of certain test or verification requirements. Facilities or offers that are open to the public may also be required to develop hygiene concepts. The intensified measures will automatically cease if the respective Land Parliament does not extend them after three months at the latest.
How long do the rules apply?
The provisions of the new Infection Control Act are limited to 23 September. If necessary, the law could be changed at any time – for example, if the situation in the hospitals worsens again.