The corona numbers are still at a moderate level. But what about in a few months? Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to ensure that Germany is prepared for the pandemic autumn. That could be difficult.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, things have always been similar: the number of infections rose, politics became hectic. Measures were decided, but by the time the relevant regulations came into force, many hospitals were already reporting full corona wards.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wants to do better in 2022. He wants to be prepared for the fall pandemic and is fine-tuning a strategy consisting of a new vaccination campaign, testing rules and changes to the Infection Protection Act, which expires on September 23.

“We must not go into the crisis unprepared like we did last autumn. We have to be well prepared,” said the SPD politician on Thursday in the Bundestag. On the same day, the prime ministers of the federal states discussed further pandemic procedures.

The pressure is great: recently there have been increasing calls for early clarification as to which corona measures should be possible. The Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD), for example, demanded that a new regulation should “not be made until the last moment again”.

“We now have to examine the toolbox with which we can react to a possible worsening of the infection situation in autumn,” she told the editorial network Germany (RND).

And NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) emphasized in an interview with the newspapers of the Funke media group: “It is important that the federal government, in coordination with the federal states, adapts the basis for the fight against the pandemic in good time before autumn.” You have to draw conclusions, “which protective measures have been successful and will continue to be successful in the future”.

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With the amended Infection Protection Act, general mask requirements for events or when shopping, as well as 2G and 3G access regulations, have been abolished since the beginning of April. For the time being, “basic protection” applies – for example with mask requirements in buses, trains, clinics, practices and nursing homes.

The Association of Towns and Municipalities called for an “effective anti-corona plan” for the autumn. Managing Director Gerd Landsberg told the RND that “national uniform measures should be possible again if the situation should deteriorate”.

“Instruments such as the obligation to wear masks in public spaces, distance rules and contact restrictions as well as 2G or 3G regulations should be possible under clear conditions.” There are also calls to make masks compulsory in schools again.

The desire not to stumble into the Corona autumn unprepared again is obviously great. Lauterbach has to deliver: he has made Corona his core issue. Like a prayer wheel, he warned of the next wave of the virus in interviews and on talk shows.

With Corona, you have to “be prepared for everything,” he told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” back in January. Before he became minister, he also repeatedly criticized the actions of the federal government at the time. In October 2021, for example, Lauterbach tweeted: “We need more success with vaccination, falling incidence, protecting our children. Winter is underestimated as a Covid problem.”

Because Lauterbach made the pandemic his topic, because he repeatedly called for caution and prevention, he will have to be measured by the success of his corona concept.

The Minister of Health will probably not be able to implement his plan easily. Especially not the part that provides for changes to the Infection Protection Act. Because leading FDP politicians insist on waiting for a planned scientific evaluation of previous Corona measures before making a decision on the future course.

“I am in favor of following the rule of law. That provides for an evaluation,” said FDP politician and Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann to the newspapers of the Funke media group a few days ago. The results of this evaluation must be taken into account “before we prematurely commit to individual measures”.

And Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) emphasized that his party would only support possible renewed corona restrictions in autumn under strict conditions. “There will not be another autumn and winter in which fundamental rights are restricted due to a diffuse data fog,” he told the dpa news agency.

Lauterbach must feel like déjà vu: only a few months ago he had agreed with the FDP on a compromise to adapt the Infection Protection Act. At that time, almost all corona protection measures were dropped, for example the obligation to wear a mask when shopping.

Will the Federal Minister of Health be able to push through his autumn plan this time? Or does he have to make big compromises? Lauterbach did not comment on the planned changes to the Infection Protection Act on Thursday.

He only spoke of a “difficult mood”. Some believed the pandemic was over, others were unsure, others were worried. The Minister of Health also said later in the evening on the ZDF “heute journal”: Germany will “definitely go beyond September 23. have an Infection Control Act throughout, which gives us the preparations we need.”

No matter how the discussion ends: The coming months will be a crucial test for Lauterbach.