E.t was only a voice, but finally a happy one. “Now the companies are happy that they are allowed to open outside,” said the managing director of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association Schleswig-Holstein, Stefan Scholtis, on Thursday with a view to the opening of outdoor restaurants announced by the state government for Monday. “The companies are already furnishing their terraces and are waiting desperately for the go.” That sounded like some sunlight at the end of the Corona tunnel in the country between the coasts, which is so dependent on the hospitality industry.
Political correspondent for Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen based in Hanover.
Three hours by car to the south-east, in Berlin, they currently want to revamp something completely different: the Infection Protection Act. And then it no longer sounds like light and relaxation. At least not with all of them. Because there is growing pressure in the Union to give the federal government more rights in the fight against the pandemic. After Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had said before Easter that she was thinking about how this could be regulated, the Chancellery is currently holding talks with the federal states as to whether and how an agreement can be reached. It is about a binding enforcement of the so-called emergency brake. An agreement has not yet been reached, it was stressed on Thursday.
Merkel is at least determined to find a solution with the federal states, although something else would be legally possible. In the Union parliamentary group, some MEPs go a clear step further. Its aim is that decisions on the restriction of public life in the fight against the pandemic can in future be made at the federal level. So far, the federal states have issued the relevant ordinances.
Dissatisfied with the previous crisis management
The members of the Bundestag Norbert Röttgen, Yvonne Magwas and Johann Wadepuhl have written to around a hundred members of the Union parliamentary group and campaigned for a corresponding reform of the Infection Protection Act. More than 50 had joined them by noon on Thursday. In the letter that the FAZ has received, it is said that the Bundestag and Bundesrat have stated several times that the Covid-19 pandemic means an “epidemic of national importance” for Germany. National laws have been adapted accordingly, in particular the Federal Infection Protection Act now provides all the necessary instruments for appropriate action in the pandemic. In the current version of the law, however, the decision to make use of the instruments rests with the Länder, which have coordinated their actions in the format of the conference between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister for a year.
Like many, the three CDU parliamentarians are now dissatisfied with this form of crisis management. “In the end, however, an agreement on joint action was no longer possible. This made the weakness of the Infection Protection Act visible, which consists in the fact that this law only empowers the state governments to issue statutory ordinances with which the objectives of the law are to be fulfilled, but not the federal government. “The Bundestag must” quickly close “this gap.
Two ways, one goal
The initiative of the MPs and Merkel’s efforts are two different paths with the same goal. But while the Chancellor is still negotiating with the federal states, the three parliamentarians are becoming more specific. It is a “question of our responsibility as federal legislators” to give the federal government the same options for action as the states, “namely to ensure the implementation of the national goals of the Infection Protection Act by means of a statutory ordinance”. Since the federal government also bears the major financial consequences, it must at least also have regulatory authority for the actual measures to contain the pandemic, the letter says. “Time is running out. The three initiators demand that the coalition factions introduce a corresponding bill into the Bundestag as soon as possible.
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