In the dispute with Corona mask dealers, the federal government suffered a defeat. The Bonn district court dismissed a lawsuit with which the Federal Ministry of Health wanted to enforce the repayment of 4.3 million euros. The federal government paid this amount to a company from the Frankfurt area, which – like many other companies – had delivered FFP2 masks to the federal government in spring 2020.
At that time, the state was desperately looking for protective textiles because of the corona pandemic and ordered masks for 4.50 euros each in a so-called open-house procedure. The tender volume was not capped and the federal government received much more goods than expected. In many cases, the ministry refused to pay, citing quality defects that, according to numerous retailers, did not exist at all. In the meantime, 113 lawsuits by dealers against the federal government are pending before a chamber of the Bonn regional court, which is about a total of more than 200 million euros.
With the current court decision (file number 20 O 191/20), the facts were somewhat different: the federal government demanded money back. After the Tüv Nord found quality defects in the masks in 2020, the federal government only paid 4.3 million euros, leaving the remaining invoice amount of 2.1 million euros open. On the one hand, the federal government now wanted its advance payment back and, on the other hand, the supplier wanted the remaining amount. The federal government failed on both points: its claim for repayment was dismissed and the so-called counterclaim by the supplier for payment of the 2.1 million euros was granted.
According to the judgment, the federal government should have offered the company a subsequent delivery or the opportunity to improve the material. A fixed deal – i.e. delivery by a fixed date – does not apply in this case, since the pandemic did not end on the contractually agreed April 30, 2020. A fixed transaction is, for example, the ordering of a wedding dress before the wedding date – if the dress comes later, the buyer does not have to pay. From the point of view of the court, the FFP2 facts were not a fixed transaction. The legal dispute is not yet over, the unsuccessful ministry can appeal to the Cologne Higher Regional Court. (01/26/2022)
Austria ends lockdown for unvaccinated people
In Austria, the lockdown for unvaccinated people will end on Monday after just over two months. Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) said this before the cabinet meeting of the conservative-green federal government. Despite high levels of new infections, the situation in the hospitals is stable. A body of experts set up by the government no longer considers this measure to be sensible. A lockdown for unvaccinated people is no longer seen as an expedient measure, said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens). But it was unavoidable and would have worked over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
People who have not been vaccinated against Corona are allowed to leave their homes again from Monday without a good reason. Since November 15, they had only been allowed to leave the house to go to work or to do essential shopping. In fact, not much will change for those who have not been vaccinated, as the lockdown was not actually verifiable and restrictions remain in place. A 2-G proof must still be provided in gastronomy, in general trade and at events. Access is therefore only granted to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered. The FFP2 mask requirement also remains.
Currently, fewer than 200 beds are occupied in intensive care units across the country. According to Mückstein, the number of new infections within 24 hours has risen to a maximum of more than 30,000 cases. Taking into account the number of residents, this would correspond to 270,000 cases in Germany. Austria has a little more than a tenth of the population of Germany. The seven-day incidence in Austria is more than 2,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
The experts expected up to 40,000 cases in the next two weeks, said Nehammer. As soon as the peak of the fifth corona wave has been reached, a decision will be made whether to withdraw the restrictive measures. The curfew in gastronomy from 10 p.m. is particularly controversial.
In order to combat the pandemic and to be prepared for future waves, Austria will be the first country in Europe to introduce general vaccination requirements from February. The government’s plan received broad approval from parliamentarians last week. The majority of the opposition also agreed to compulsory vaccination from the age of 18. From mid-March, those who are not vaccinated face fines. (01/26/2022)
Baden-Württemberg is also getting out of the Luca app
The state of Baden-Württemberg no longer wants to use the Luca app for contact tracing in the future. The contract with the private operator of the software will not be extended beyond the end of March, the German Press Agency learned from government circles. Many restaurant owners and organizers used the Luca app to record the contacts of their visitors last year – now the Corona warning app is to be used for this. Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein had previously stated that they also did not want to extend the contract with the Luca operator. (01/26/2022)
Denmark wants to lift all measures at the beginning of the month
Denmark plans to lift all corona restrictions by February 1st. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote to Parliament that the government wanted to follow a recommendation from experts. The expert council had come to the conclusion that hospital admissions were no longer linked to the number of infections.
If Parliament agrees to the lifting, only tests and quarantine rules when entering Denmark remain as measures in the pandemic. The country had already relaxed restrictions two weeks ago, and cinemas and music halls were allowed to reopen. Curfew hours for restaurants and the obligation to wear a mask remained in force. (01/26/2022)
New highs in new infections and incidence
In Germany, the number of infections detected has risen to 164,000, reports the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The seven-day incidence rises to 940.6. The previous day the reading was 894.3. The value is already over 1000 in six federal states: in Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg and Hesse. In addition, dozens of urban and rural districts report incidences of more than 1000. In six of the twelve Berlin districts that the RKI reports separately, it is more than 2000. Berlin-Mitte reports a value of 3109.6. Experts expect more and more cases that cannot be recorded, partly because test capacities and health authorities are increasingly at their limit.
According to the RKI, the number of deaths increases nationwide by 166 to a total of 117,126. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 9,035,795 infections with Sars-CoV-2 have been detected. The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, as many infections go undetected. (01/26/2022)
Mihalic sees a majority in the Greens for general vaccination
According to its parliamentary director Irene Mihalic, the parliamentary group of the Greens tends towards a general obligation to vaccinate. “In my opinion, there is a clear majority for compulsory vaccination from the age of 18,” said Mihalic, referring to an open-ended discussion with experts. However, there has not yet been a vote in the group. In the first orientation debate in the Bundestag on Wednesday afternoon, all three positions on compulsory vaccination would be represented by the ranks of the Greens, according to Mihalic: from rejection to a graduated procedure to compulsory vaccination from the age of 18. (01/26/2022)
Netherlands open again
Despite a massive omicron wave, the Netherlands are relaxing the corona measures. Restaurants, theatres, museums and cinemas are allowed to reopen after more than five weeks from Wednesday – daily until 10 p.m., said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. A limited number of visitors is also allowed at sports competitions such as football matches. In addition, the quarantine rules are relaxed. The mask requirement and the Corona passport, with which visitors have to prove that they have been tested, vaccinated or recovered, are retained. “Today we consciously accept a risk,” said Rutte. Although the omicron variant spreads much faster, people did not get as severely ill.
The tough lockdown that the government put into effect on December 18 ended almost ten days ago. Shops and schools have reopened. The pressure on the government to lift the last tough restrictions was great. Mayors pointed out that everything is open in the neighboring countries of Germany and Belgium and that bans can therefore no longer be enforced.
The number of new infections is now increasing rapidly. More than 366,000 new infections had been registered in the past seven days, a good 50 percent more than in the previous week. The seven-day incidence is more than 2000 and thus more than twice as high as in Germany. (01/26/2022)
Bahn slightly reduces the offer
Because of the Omikron wave, Deutsche Bahn has slightly reduced its long-distance services. The seating capacity has been reduced by around three percent since January 10, according to a situation report for the supervisory board. In some cases, shorter trains would be used to relieve the maintenance works as a precaution. In some plants, the sickness rate is already in double digits. Further “reduction scenarios” have been prepared in the event that sick leave increases sharply.
The railway had increased its offer again in December because it is constantly receiving new trains. However, only half as many people are currently using the ICE and Intercity trains as before the pandemic.
“Currently, operations are running quietly and largely smoothly,” said a railway spokesman. “We have only made minimal adjustments to the timetable at the moment. On some connections – for example between Cologne and Frankfurt – at times with fewer passengers there is only one train part instead of two.” The railway is further prepared to adapt the operating processes if necessary. (01/26/2022)