ANALYSIS: Are Germans questioning Merkel’s legacy?

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Ahead of the meeting on Thursday, German states are calling for infection protection laws to be amended ahead of a possible Covid wave in autumn. 

North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Hendrik Wüst, who is the current head of the Minister Presidents’ Conference (MPK), said: “As much as we all wish it – the pandemic is not over yet.”

Wüst, of the CDU, said a “back and forth between lockdown and opening up” has to be avoided in Germany by making preparations now.

READ ALSO: Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, warn ministers

Germany’s Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened many of its Covid restrictions in the last months. But some rules remain in place, including compulsory face masks on public transport and mandatory isolation after a Covid infection.

“We should all try to enjoy the summer together – but without recklessness with a view to autumn,” Saarland state premier Anke Rehlinger (SPD) said.

“The Infection Protection Act in its current form expires in September. A new regulation must not be made at the last moment. We must now examine the toolbox with which we can react to a possibly worsening infection situation in autumn.”

Taxpayer-funded rapid Covid testing in Germany, meanwhile, is set to expire at the end of June. 

READ ALSO: Will rapid tests continue to be free in Germany?

Rehlinger urged the government to keep it free after this point. “Otherwise, the test centres will close down – and we will have to see to it that they reopen in September,” she warned.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach recently said that he is preparing a strategy for an expected increase in infections during the colder season.

It will include a new vaccination campaign, testing rules, as well as renewed amendments to infection laws. 

There are also calls for more preparation from other sectors of society.

Markus Lewe, president of the Association of Cities and Towns, said: “The experts are largely in agreement that a next wave of corona will be upon us in autumn at the latest.”

Lewe said no one wanted renewed contact restrictions but the number of cases can go up quickly, and Germany must be ready in case it happens.

Heinz-Peter Meidinger, President of the German Teachers’ Association, said: “The federal and state governments must do everything they can to ensure that schools are optimally prepared for all possible pandemic scenarios in autumn and winter.”

Meidinger said the infection protection laws expiring in September “must be extended before the summer break and adapted to the imminent dangers in autumn”.

He said this should include the possibility of making masks compulsory at schools again on a state-wide basis.

READ ALSO: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

What else is on the agenda?

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the state leaders will also discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine and the need to speed up the expansion of renewable energy in Germany.

Ahead of the meeting, state premier Wüst called for a comprehensive strategy on energy security in Germany, and an update on how the country will become free of Russian energy imports.