Harsh, bitter, inevitable – the choice of words of the Chancellor and the two regional leaders Michale Müller and Markus Söder who accompanied her at the press conference after the Bund-Länder round should underline the seriousness of the hour. And explain what tough measures have been taken. “A difficult day for political decision-makers,” said Angela Merkel. “We know what we expect from citizens.”
In particular, the mayor of Berlin stressed how difficult it was for him to approve. And so it was Michael Müller who, in the prime minister’s round, pushed with the federal government for a passage in the resolution document that is likely to play an even greater role in the days and weeks ahead.
“To avoid an acute public health emergency,” the six-page federal state paper now says, “it is necessary to halt the infection process by significantly reducing the number of contacts in the population.” This significant reduction is related to marked cuts in public life and the economic activity of entire industries.
What Merkel and the country leaders agreed on is a significant interference in the fundamental rights of the citizens. The national alarm tone – “national effort,” Merkel added at the press conference – was likely perceived as necessary.
Hessian Prime Minister Volker Bouffier had already mentioned the term of the health emergency before the round. The course of the conversation in the video conference does not give a very clear picture of what the participants had in mind.
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In any case, Merkel emphasized that only a quarter of all infections can be detected, so things are likely to get out of hand. And the Federal Department of Health pointed out that six percent of all tests are now positive, compared to just under one percent in the summer.
Authorizations since March
Merkel said there was a law in place since March to protect the population in the event of an epidemic of national importance ”. At the time, the Bundestag had expanded the powers of the federal government and especially of Health Minister Jens Spahn – including the ability to issue instructions to states, which had hitherto been avoided.
Why then highlight the emergency in the resolution? After all, the representative of the Ministry of Justice apparently pointed out that unlike natural disasters, there was no emergency in the health system.
It is likely this way: Merkel and the country leaders want to send a signal not only to the population, but also to the courts that the situation is more serious than a few days and weeks ago, according to the assembled executive. That the measures that have now been decided also apply to other conditions. And so that proportionality must be judged differently.
As mentioned, the Bundestag should also include the formula this Thursday or next week in a resolution on the corona crisis.
Ramelow enters plain text
The leftist Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow of Thuringia added a clear text to the decision with his own protocol statement. The Bundestag and Bundesrat must therefore then submit “specific warrant bases” for measures such as curfew, contact ban and lockdown – namely by formally enacting this acute national health emergency to justify Thursday night’s resolutions in the Prime Ministers’ meeting with Merkel.
Because these decisions are challenged by courts. This was also made clear by Wolfgang Kubicki, Bundestag vice-president of the FDP, who is also an experienced lawyer, even before the results of the round were announced in the evening. “The Basic Law also applies in a pandemic”; he told Deutschlandfunk and referred to the different “events” in different countries, to which different reactions had to be made.
The complete closure of the catering industry is disproportionate because it does not focus on individual cases and regional circumstances. He states this in a guest post for the Tagesspiegel. It’s not in court. But is that still the case when it was decided to avert the national health emergency called by governments and the Bundestag? Judges now have to weigh that up.