KIndian and youth medical associations, politicians and lawyers are sharply critical of the new infection protection law. They fear negative consequences for children and young people as well as continued unequal treatment due to the possibility that the federal states can order masks and corona tests. The conditions for the federal states to be allowed to introduce measures in schools and daycare centers from October 1 are “poorly worded,” said Burkhard Rodeck, secretary general of the German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ): “It would have been the task of the federal government to set clearly defined parameters for mandatory tests and masks in schools and daycare centers,” criticized Rodeck in an interview with WELT.
The traffic light government’s infection protection act, which the Bundestag still needs to approve, creates the framework for new corona measures that also affect children and young people. According to the draft law, the federal states can introduce a mask requirement in schools from the fifth grade. The condition is therefore that this is necessary “to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 and to maintain regular classroom teaching”. Corona tests in day care centers and all school classes can also be ordered if they are also necessary “to ensure the functionality of the health system or other critical infrastructure”. As for the definition, which experts such as DGKJ General Secretary Rodeck are now criticizing as unclear – and thus potentially too far-reaching.
Because it should no longer be about preventing “infections at all costs,” Rodeck said. Tests are therefore only useful and necessary in case of symptoms. A “hard reason” is also needed to force children to wear restrictive masks and thereby protect others: “Face masks are not comfort items.” Rodeck warned against the law’s unequal treatment of children and young people compared to adults.
The German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (DGPI) also expressed concern. “Proportionality, meaningfulness and evidence” should be the focus of the measures, chairman Tobias Tenenbaum demanded at the request of WELT: “Restrictive measures specifically for children are not justifiable if they are not equally mandatory in the general population.”
The Children’s Doctors Trade Union (BVKJ) fears massive consequences from continued investigations without cause. These have a sensitivity of only 40 percent, BVKJ spokesman Jakob Maske told WELT: “Unjustified quarantine orders for false positive tests are the consequences that lead to further social isolation and reduced learning time.” This would be after two and a half years that Pandemic had had. to be recognized a long time ago, criticized Maske. In addition to school closures, restrictions on cultural and sports facilities must also be ruled out: “We continue to observe swabs and hygiene measures in these facilities that are no longer scientifically sound.”
Member of the Ethics Council talks about “special victims”
Law professor and member of the Ethics Council Frauke Rostalski said in a statement to WELT that children and young people would be asked to make further “special sacrifices”. It is to be expected that masks will become a “reality across the board” for students from fifth grade onwards: “I do not believe that the justification for jeopardizing face-to-face teaching will mean a serious obstacle in practice .”
Even the evaluation report used by the federal government only classified masks as an effective measure to fight the virus if worn correctly: “For children and young people who are expected to spend the whole day at school wearing a mask, this is in my opinion opinion. is wishful thinking at best,” Rostalski said.
The fact that schools and daycare centers are once again allowed to impose testing obligations does not equate to normality, since due to the existing isolation obligations there cannot be regular operations: “As a result of the mass tests that must be expected, there will of course be educational failure and other loss of participation opportunities,” warned the lawyer. She considers the draft law to be fundamentally questionable: “As a society, we should ask ourselves whether measures are justified at all.”
The central problem is that the definition of a concrete risk of “overburdening the health system” leaves many questions unanswered. The importance of the number of cases makes the reference point for each measure vague: “We are in danger of not getting out of the spiral,” criticized Rostalski. This is also shown by the obligation to wear a mask in long-distance transport and on planes, which applies without any specific risk to the health system being identified at all: “For reasons of proportionality, this is more than doubtful.”
Criticism also from the Greens
Criticism of the law’s unclear requirements also comes from representatives of the governing parties. Asked by WELT, Greens MP and Economic Policy Spokesperson for the Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, Dieter Janecek, spoke out against the “restrictive measures” for children under the law: “Neither mask requirements nor sampling are still appropriate at this late stage of the pandemic.” Quarantine regulations also needed to be adjusted. “Only if there is a real and verifiable threat of overburdening the health system on the ground, measures should be possible at all,” Janecek said.
The chairman of the Conference of Ministers of Education, however, praised the fact that school closures due to the pandemic are now excluded from the law. Schools must be affected as little as possible, said KMK chairman Karin Prien (CDU) to the “Funke” newspapers. The measures will “only be used if they are required locally or if teaching would otherwise not be possible”.
A number of members of the FDP’s parliamentary group expressed fundamental concerns about the traffic light project. Member of Parliament Frank Schäffler already criticized on Wednesday that the federal states were given “far too many opportunities to interfere with personal rights and freedoms”. The Bundestag could only watch. Parts of the opposition also expressed dissatisfaction and demanded a precise definition in the law of when the federal states could introduce measures. The legal policy spokesman for the CSU in the Bundestag, Volker Ullrich, complained that there was a lack of clarity “from when countries are allowed to set stricter rules”. The law is so “not able to approve” CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja also criticized that the traffic lights had given many decisions to the federal states. He believes “that the measures go beyond what the infection process makes necessary”.
Many federal states, but also hospital and medical representatives, had already called in advance for nationwide limit values on the basis of which protective measures could be imposed. This included, for example, the number of free intensive care beds. The responsible ministers Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Marco Buschmann (FDP) now leave this decision to the federal states. The law must still be approved by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. Previously, it had been found that both the incidence and the hospitalization rate in many countries had been incorrectly calculated or reported in an unclear manner. On this basis, in turn, restrictions on fundamental rights were decided.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published without the quotes from Frauke Rostalski. It was supplemented by her statements on Thursday afternoon.
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