German ‘traffic light’ coalition to bring back free COVID testing

With Germany already in the grip of a fourth wave of the coronavirus, parties due to form the country’s next government have presented their plans to tackle the pandemic. Along with the reintroduction of free COVID-19 tests, politicians are calling for more financial help for hospitals and more sick days for parents.

Coalition parties prepare new COVID legislation

Although they are still in the midst of complex coalition negotiations, the “traffic light” parties that will likely form the next government have started to draw up plans to curb the spiraling COVID infection rate in Germany. Further urgency was given to the situation on Monday, when the Federal Republic recorded its highest seven-day incidence rate on record.

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, the SPD, the Greens and the FDP were working on a new bill on Monday, which they plan to debate in the Bundestag on Thursday. If adopted, it could come into force on November 18, n-tv reports.

Among the measures currently under consideration are:

  • Reintroduction of free COVID tests: The free testing program was scrapped in October, but many politicians now say it was a mistake.
  • Daily tests for nursing home employees and visitors: Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people need testing.
  • Reintroduction of “corona charges”: The federal government used to pay hospitals in Germany to keep intensive care beds free for COVID patients. Under current plans, this would be relaunched.
  • Promote booster jabs: All doctors in Germany would be welcome to write to elderly patients recommending that they receive a booster.
  • Additional sick leave for parents: Parents in Germany would be entitled to extra sick days for children to use if their children contract COVID, need to self-isolate or their daycare is closed.

National 2G rules are not on the table

Currently, the parties have ruled out the possibility of introducing nationwide “2G rules” across Germany. This controversial rule – which is currently in place in some federal states – would effectively ban people who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus or recovered from the disease from certain public places. Mandatory vaccinations are also not currently on the cards.

Potential coalition partners are also rushing to draft a new law as the current “national epidemic situation” declared by the Federal Ministry of Health last year is expected to expire on November 25.

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