Bochum Minister President Wüst is now in the middle of “Team Vorsicht”. For the first time, together with the Greens, he presents a Corona roadmap for the coming months. One goal: In future, schools, businesses and all citizens should know earlier where they stand.
Less than a week after its appointment, the new North Rhine-Westphalian state cabinet has presented a roadmap for the “third Corona autumn”. The transition from Black-Yellow to Black-Green sends a clear signal: more caution instead of loosening pressure – especially in favour of vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the sick. After the first out-of-town cabinet meeting of his new team, Minister President Hendrik Wüst (CDU) presented priorities on Tuesday at the Health Campus in Bochum together with several members of the government.
Day-care centres and schools: “There must be no more area-wide closures of day-care centres and schools,” said Wüst. According to the current federal legal situation, it is not even possible to close schools at present, explained the new Minister of Education, Dorothee Feller (CDU). She announced that she would provide information on all important issues one week before the end of the summer holidays. Classes begin in NRW on 10 August. According to Feller, a Corona coordination team has already been set up in her ministry, in which the Ministry of Health was immediately integrated for shorter decision-making processes.
- Masks: “Protection by masks will become more important again in autumn and winter,” Wüst emphasised. Basic protection measures in buses and trains as well as in facilities for particularly vulnerable groups would be continued. If the Corona situation so requires, the current obligation to wear masks in public transport, hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and old people’s and nursing homes could also be extended to other indoor areas, added Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU).
- Mandatory testing: Wüst announced that a corona test would continue to be required before visiting hospitals and nursing homes. “For me it is clear: the tests must remain free of charge.” The new federal test regulation, which now requires most citizens to pay a co-payment, had almost halved the number of rapid tests in NRW within a few days, Laumann reported.
- Vaccination: According to Wüst, NRW is sticking to its structures for further large vaccination campaigns. “We have to be able to vaccinate again at record speed if that is necessary.” Even if it is not yet clear which vaccine could be used soon, it remains the case that vaccination centres must be operational within 14 days in order to carry out at least 250 000 vaccinations per week, Laumann said.
- Corona-Lage: “The situation in the hospitals is stable. There is currently no reason to intervene significantly in people’s lives,” the head of government summed up. Nevertheless, he said, precautions are needed for rising infection rates during the cold season. “In the hospital sector, we actually know everything,” said Laumann. All data on the corona situation on the wards and sick leaves of the staff were available in NRW, he said, “so that we have the question of overloading of the health system under control”.
- Data: Laumann demands from the federal government a better data situation on the vaccinated. “So far, we only know the postcode, but not in which streets or in which district the vaccinated live,” he criticised. On this basis, however, it is not possible to specifically evaluate which social groups do not accept the vaccination offer.
- Research: The North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Health is funding 2.4 million euros in research projects on the incidence of infection in order to be able to act more efficiently in the event of another Corona wave. According to Laumann, there are already pilot projects on sewage monitoring in 16 municipalities.
- Legal situation: The Health Minister warned that the federal government and the Bundestag must quickly create legal certainty by amending the Infection Protection Act. Otherwise, the state government would no longer be able to take the necessary measures from the end of September. The new state government also wants to ensure that the Corona Protection Ordinances are “there a little earlier in the future, before they come into force.” This could “improve the application considerably”. In past years, the ordinances of the black-yellow government often came at the last minute.
- Economy: NRW Economic Affairs Minister Mona Neubaur (Greens) stressed that companies and their employees also needed planning security. Closures or prohibitions could only be a last resort in the working world, which the state government wanted to do everything in its power to counteract. Freelancers and solo self-employed workers are also being considered.
Translation: Mareike Graepel