Local news translated – Jan. 18

Host Nation Update, January 18

Editor’s Note: Off-Post COVID rules are regularly updated and consolidated on the Stuttgart Citizen’s Local Coronavirus Rules Explained page.

Twenty-seven counties in Baden-Württemberg pass the 500 mark
Stuttgart – Corona infections continue to rise.

For the third time in a row, the 500 mark has been exceeded in Germany. The seven-day incidence is 553 (previous day: 528) – a new pandemic high. Including the state capital (595).

However, the rising infection numbers are not reflected in the load on intensive care beds. The number of COVID 19 patients in intensive care (340) remains well below the alert level I value of 390.  In Baden-Württemberg, there are three levels of more stringent rules in addition to the basic level. Since their introduction, the highest alert level II has been in effect in Baden-Württemberg: 2G or 2G plus applies as a rule. In addition, contact restrictions have been in place since the end of December, even for vaccinated persons. The nightly curfew for unvaccinated people in Corona hotspots is currently in effect again in many counties, starting Sunday in the state capital. 

Although the utilization of intensive care beds in Baden-Württemberg has been below the threshold for alert level II in recent days, it will remain in place in Baden-Württemberg until at least February 1. The background is the concern about omicron and an overload of the health care system. 

New additions from January 12 also included a FFP2 mask requirement in stores and modified quarantine rules. Closing time for food service establishments will be from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 18)

Alert level II – Where do curfews apply in Baden-Württemberg?
The curfews come into effect when the 7-day incidence in a city or county exceeds the threshold of 500 for two consecutive days. The restriction is then announced by the appropriate health department and takes effect the following day.

Night curfews for the unvaccinated currently apply in the areas of: Stuttgart, Boeblingen, Esslingen, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Pforzheim, Reutlingen, Tuebingen, and Ulm.

Unlike last year, the curfew only affects the unvaccinated. Vaccinated and recovered persons are not affected. Those who are not vaccinated may only leave the house between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for valid reasons while the curfews are in effect. Good cause as defined by the Corona ordinance is:  Averting a specific danger to life, limb or property, attending certain events and participating in certain gatherings, attending events of religious and philosophical communities and funerals or prayers for the dead.  Exercise of professional and official activities, including professional, official or academic training that cannot be postponed, labor market measures and the participation of volunteers in exercises and operations of the fire department, disaster control and rescue service. Visiting spouses, life partners and partners in a non-marital partnership in their home or other accommodation.  Use of medical, nursing, therapeutic and veterinary services.  Accompaniment and care of persons in need of support and minors, in particular the exercise of custody and rights of access in the respective private sphere.  Accompaniment and care of dying persons. For physical exercise performed alone outdoors, but not in sports facilities. Acts that cannot be postponed for the care of animals. Other comparable weighty reasons. 

Curfews are lifted when the 7-day incidence falls below 500 for five consecutive days. The measure is then lifted one day after it is announced by the health department. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 18)

Coronavirus in Baden-Württemberg – State wants to adapt stage system because of Omicron variant
Stuttgart – The state of Baden-Württemberg wants to revise its tier system of anti-corona measures because of the Omicron variant. The Ministry of Social Affairs wants to adjust the rules in the new Corona ordinance at the end of January. Then, according to reports, there could probably also be slight relaxations in some areas. 

Currently, the alert level II continues to apply in the southwest with numerous restrictions, especially for unvaccinated people, although in the intensive care units of hospitals are no longer as many COVID 19 patients as before Christmas. Experts believe that the extremely contagious Omicron variant has a much milder course than Delta, which is why fewer people become seriously ill.

To prevent hospitals from being overloaded, the occupancy of intensive care beds and the so-called hospitalization rate were introduced as decisive criteria. The latter indicates how many Corona-infected patients are brought to a hospital within a week and per 100,000 inhabitants.  In fact, the government should have relaxed the Corona rules in accordance with its tier system long ago, since the numbers were below the threshold , especially in terms of occupied intensive care beds. But because of the incidences rising again, the country had decided last week to remain in alert level II with numerous restrictions until the end of January. However, this could not be maintained in the long term, according to government and coalition circles. 

According to the original regulation, the country would probably even have to go back to the so-called warning level in the middle of the week, as the limit of 390 occupied intensive care beds would then be likely to be fallen short of for five days in a row. In the warning level, 3G would then apply again to a large extent and, for example, soccer stadiums could reopen completely, whereas currently there are only ghost games. Clubs and discos could also reopen, and unvaccinated people would have access with a current PCR test.  At the beginning of next week, the state premiers will again consult with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on the further strategy in the fight against Corona.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 18)

Vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson – these new rules will apply in the future
Anyone who had once been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was previously considered fully vaccinated. Now the federal government has changed an important regulation. This has consequences – also for vaccinated and recovered people in Baden-Württemberg.   

It now takes a total of three vaccine doses to be exempt from the additional testing requirement in areas with 2G plus, even in the longer term.  Until recently, people were considered “fully” vaccinated – at least in Baden-Württemberg – just 14 days after a single vaccination with Johnson & Johnson and thus basic immunization, as the state health ministry in Stuttgart recently announced.

Accordingly, all those who had been vaccinated with the vaccine for the first time were actually already considered boosted after a further booster vaccination. 

With the new regulation, the federal government is now following the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) in this matter. In the Stiko’s view, a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is insufficient as a basic immunization – due to its lower protective efficacy against the delta variant compared with other available COVID 19 vaccines.

For this reason, the Stiko has long recommended vaccination with an mRNA vaccine “to optimize the first vaccination series” four weeks after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Subsequently – after three more months – an additional booster vaccination should be administered.  the German health ministry said in response to a request. It said it was examining “how the certificates of affected persons who have been vaccinated with a once-only vector vaccine or, in the case of a recovered vaccination, can be obtained as quickly and easily as possible, a certificate that complies with the new presentation requirements.”

Meanwhile, there is also news for the recovered. With the change of the SchAusnahmV of the federation now also the Robert Koch institute (RKI) “the conditions for the validity of a proof of recovery” is only valid for 90 days. “If the recovery from Covid-19 is longer than 90 days ago and the affected person has not been vaccinated in the meantime, he or she is now considered non-immunized. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 18)

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