On Monday night, the government and states decided to impose Germany’s toughest blockade yet during the five days of Easter, at the same time that curfews were applied for areas with high infection rates.
After a day of rumors that contact restrictions could be lifted during the religious holiday, as happened at Christmas, the announcement was shocking.
Also included in the new lockdown rules are a night curfew at access points and a commitment to increase testing. Here’s what scientists, doctors, politicians, and nursing home representatives thought about the deal.
Scientific point of view: ‘very positive effect’
Dirk Brockmann, an epidemiologist at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), praised the tough Easter restrictions.
“In my opinion, this could have a very positive effect because a whole series of days will be basically Sundays,” Brockmann said on Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday morning.
“Of course these measures will have a positive impact, but it is very, very difficult to calculate how strong they are,” he added.
Since Germany is currently in a state of exponential case growth, There could be up to 60,000 new infections every day in Germany without strict restrictions, he said.
Figures released by the RKI on Tuesday show 7,485 new infections, about 2,000 more than a week ago. The incidence of new infections nationwide in seven days per 100,000 population increased slightly to 108.1.
When asked about the night curfew, Brockmann said that “Anything that reduces contacts is helpful.”
Praise from the ICU doctors
Intensive care physicians have also welcomed the harsh closure.
“Politicians have recognized that we are in a difficult phase of the pandemic and that we must not jeopardize the successful deployment of vaccination,” said Gernot Marx, president of the Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi).
The decisions were difficult but important, he said. “This is the only way we can stop the current exponential growth in incidents again, and also the only way we will see fewer patients in intensive care units in a few weeks.”
Stating that the current occupancy of intensive care beds is the same as at the peak of the first wave, he said that “That already worries us a lot, despite all our experience after a year of the pandemic as specialists in intensive care.”
However, Marx said the government needed to offer the people a strategy to get back to normal by the summer.
“People who are prepared as a family not to meet at Easter because they know they can meet in the garden in June will help avoid very serious courses in intensive care units. And that’s all we want, ”he said.
Political response: ‘Too little, too late’
Janosch Dahmen, a Green Party health expert, called for the new rules “Too little, too late”, which says “the third wave should be broken now, but instead the closure will not come until Easter.”
He added that there was still no clear starting point for providing self-assessments in schools, while tests and masks in the workplace were not yet mandatory. “In the time between now and Easter, many more people will contract the disease.”
He said states had allowed the third wave to build momentum by loosening restrictions without imposing a test strategy.
“Rapid nationwide testing, accelerated vaccination and consistent digital contact tracing are urgently needed to finally use methods smarter than closure,” argued Dahmen.
Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Liberal Democrats (FDP), said the measures were “too harsh” and “not innovative enough.”
“It shows an astonishing lack of strategy that the principle of ‘we will stay home’ remains the central response to the pandemic, even after more than a year,” Lindner told WDR5 broadcaster on Tuesday.
Lindner cited the city of Tübingen, among others, as an example of “very creative concepts.”
As part of a model project for more opening steps in Corona times, free trials have been available at various stations in the university town for a good week.
With a negative result, you can, for example, go to the shops or to the hairdresser. In terms of organization, the model has worked so far, Tübingen Mayor Boris Palmer (Greens) said on Monday. However, it is still too early to assess the effect on the number of infections.
‘Mockery’ of nursing home residents
The German Foundation for Patient Protection has demanded that more social contact opportunities be provided for people in nursing homes than the federal and state governments decided.
“The mere fact of keeping the perspective of extended visit opportunities is a mockery of those affected,” Eugen Brysch, director of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Tuesday.
At the closing summit, the federal and state governments decided that facilities would be allowed to expand their visitation options and offer group programs within residential areas. The prerequisite is that there is no coronavirus outbreak in the home and that residents have been vaccinated at least two weeks before.
Brysch welcomed the fact that 90 percent of nursing home residents are now vaccinated. “But for the residents, practically nothing has changed in many cases,” he said. “Unregulated visits at Easter are a fiction for most.”
Many continue to live with strict visitation and contact restrictions, he said. “For people in institutions, vaccines have not brought them freedom.”
‘A scandal’: what the media thought
News magazine Der Spiegel called the government’s repeated focus on adjusting the closures a “scandal”, claiming it had “completely wrong priorities” and should instead focus on improving its vaccination campaign and testing strategy.
“This three-week lockdown rhythm confirms the suspicion that the federal government and states are simply trying to catch up on a game they have already lost,” said the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, referring to the continued extension of the Germany’s closure measures from the beginning of November 2020.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism