Germany’s Bundestag, the country’s lower parliament, approved amendments to the infection protection act on Thursday in order to contain the accelerating spread of COVID-19.
The changes to German infection law presented by the coalition partners Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) introduce so-called 3G rules, which stands for vaccinated, recovered or tested, at work as well as in local and long-distance public transport.
Many established health measures, such as the mandatory use of masks and distance regulations, could be continued, according to the German government. Employees were encouraged to work from home again if possible. The regulations are scheduled to be in effect nationwide until March next year.
Tougher measures such as 2G rules which only allow vaccinated and/or recovered people to attend cultural events as well as bars and restaurants could be continually implemented by federal states depending on the COVID-19 situation.
Despite record infection numbers and hospitals filling up with COVID-19 patients, further curfews, accommodation bans or area-wide closures of stores, schools and restaurants or sports facilities are not possible under the amendment.
The coalition parties defended the new law in the Bundestag debate against criticism from the conservative union CDU/CSU. “We are responding to the very difficult coronavirus situation with necessary and legally secure measures,” said SPD health expert Sabine Dittmar.
The draft bill would “not do justice to the dramatic nature of the situation,” said union faction vice chairman Stephan Stracke of the CSU. The catalog of measures by the national government would be shortened. He said it was a mistake not to prolong the so-called epidemic situation of national scope.
The draft law adopted by the Bundestag must now be approved by the Bundesrat, upper parliament, on Friday. If the required majority is not reached in the Bundesrat, the next step could be for the mediation committee with representatives of the Bundestag and Bundesrat to try to find a solution.