Leading federal and state politicians are debating ever more heatedly about opening plans in the corona pandemic.
Hopes are on gaining more control over the development through mass corona tests.
The SPD accuses Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) of having prematurely promised free tests.
At the same time, warnings are getting louder not to provoke an unchecked increase in the number of infections through openings.
On March 3, the Prime Ministers will discuss how to proceed with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).
Several federal states have already announced that they will relax certain measures.
For example, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg want to reopen the DIY megastores with garden centers.
Rhineland-Palatinate would like to allow shopping in clothing stores by appointment.
Other federal states, however, are skeptical, in Hamburg even the mask requirement is tightened.
Where does what apply from next week?
Nurseries, garden centers and flower shops in Baden-Württemberg can reopen next Monday.
The green-black state cabinet agreed on Tuesday to relax the corona lockdown accordingly, as the German press agency learned.
The southwest follows the example of other countries such as Bavaria.
According to the Florists' Association, there are 1200 flower shops in Baden-Württemberg alone.
In addition to the florists, the hairdressers are also allowed to open again on March 1st.
The announcement from Bavaria to open hardware stores had previously caused displeasure in neighboring Baden-Württemberg.
Government spokesman Rudi Hoogvliet said that one was irritated by the turnaround of the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU).
"So far he has always been the tough dog, now he is starting to open one thing after another," said Hoogvliet.
"I don't know what that is about."
In addition to the opening of the hardware stores from next Monday, Bavaria also wants to enable individual lessons in music schools - where the seven-day incidence is below 100, said State Chancellor Florian Herrmann (CSU) after a cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had previously announced that nurseries and garden centers would be opened in order to prevent customers from crowded together to buy goods from discount grocery stores.
They are perishable goods.
Services that are close to the body, such as those of hairdressers and podiatrists, may also be provided again from Monday.
Like the shops in many other industries, the hardware stores had to close in December 2020 when the number of new corona infections rose dramatically.
Since January, at least the “Click and Collect” procedure - that is, the collection of goods after pre-ordering - has been possible.
According to Bavaria's Minister of Economic Affairs, Hubert Aiwanger, hotels and restaurants should again be able to accommodate guests with a negative Corona test from Easter.
"There must be a perspective here towards Easter," said the head of the free voters in Munich.
Despite all the difficulties in the pandemic, he sees positive signals.
Aiwanger named here on the one hand the Bavaria-wide incidence of less than 60 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days and on the other hand the significant relief in the clinics.
With a view to the upcoming federal and state conference, Aiwanger emphasized that he would like more courage to relax, especially since, unlike a year ago, aids such as masks and rapid tests are now available.
After the weeks of the lockdown, the damage in the economy was sometimes massive, especially in the areas of trade, gastronomy and cultural industries.
Berlin is not planning to go it alone when returning from the corona lockdown.
After the opening of daycare centers and primary schools at the beginning of the week and the opening of the hairdressers next Monday, no further easing is currently planned, said Economic Senator Ramona Pop (Greens) after a Senate meeting on Tuesday.
Berlin is based on the resolutions of the Prime Minister's Conference.
The Berlin Senate is expected to bring its own opening plan to the federal-state consultations.
The lockdown is to be extended beyond March 7th.
However, there should be openings depending on the number of infected and infected people as well as the clinic occupancy.
Pop said the Berlin Senate was currently discussing a phased plan with cautious opening scenarios.
Orientation is an incidence value of 35. “At the moment, however, a linear path to 35 is not discernible.” In this respect, there cannot and will currently be no further openings.
Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller also urged patience in the debate about lockdown openings.
It is about a perspective for openings and not openings overnight, says the SPD politician on ZDF.
"That would be a risk that nobody can take as long as we don't know how the mutants behave."
Brandenburg wants to create prospects for easing for citizens and companies with a step-by-step plan.
As of Monday, in addition to hairdressing salons, garden markets, garden centers and flower shops will be allowed to reopen, as Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) announced on Tuesday.
This relaxation of the corona restrictions is possible according to the current regulation, which is valid until March 7th.
"That's a small step, I am aware of that," said Woidke.
"I know that the expectations of the chambers of industry and commerce, the chambers of crafts and retailers are significantly higher." There is no specific schedule for further opening steps, but Woidke wanted to point out perspectives.
"From a Brandenburg point of view, the retail trade, museums, exhibitions, outdoor sports and open-air events should be given a perspective before Easter if possible," he said.
That depends on the development of the number of infections, the further vaccinations and the situation in the hospitals.
“We have to carefully take small steps.” The head of government stressed that it might be necessary to take steps back again if the number of infections rose again.
Hamburg's Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) is likely to take the toughest line in the talks on March 3rd.
Instead of easing, its Senate debated on Tuesday about tightening the corona rules.
Result: From the coming weekend, a general mask requirement will apply at least in all lively places in the Hanseatic city.
This applies in particular to heavily visited places such as the Stadtpark, Jungfernstieg or Landungsbrücken.
Joggers are also affected.
Senate spokesman Marcel Schweitzer even recommended that citizens always wear a mask as soon as they leave their own apartment.
The tightening of the mask requirement is also a consequence of the past weekend, when in good weather in many places in Hamburg people without masks and the necessary distance would have come.
A corresponding adjustment of the Corona regulation will be made promptly, so that the mask requirement will take effect by next weekend at the latest.
Schweitzer also announced priority checks by the police.
In the past few days, the number of new corona infections in Hamburg had risen again.
According to Schweitzer, it became clear that mutated virus variants are playing an increasingly important role.
"We are threatened by a mutation that is more contagious and probably also lead to more serious illnesses," explained Schweitzer of the new precautionary measures.
So far, nothing indicates that Hessen will go it alone before the consultations on March 3.
The head of the Hessian State Chancellery, Axel Wintermeyer (CDU), recently emphasized that the growing spread of virus mutations in Germany could call planned opening steps into question again.
"We have to persevere in order to gradually return to normal," he told the Evangelical Press Service (epd).
The main task is to prevent a large third wave that would destroy the successes achieved so far.
So stick to the trade-off between health protection and relaxation.
Nevertheless, he is "very sure: We will talk specifically about opening steps and plans at the next country conference, even if we are often unable to agree on fixed dates."
Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) will again propose to allow a “Click and Collect” model for retail.
Then customers could also try on ordered goods when they pick them up in the department stores.
There was still no majority in the February switching conference for the move.
"But I assume that we will propose this again at the next switching conference on March 3rd."
Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) urged caution in the pandemic ahead of the state corona summit on Wednesday.
“I understand the desire for further opening steps.
Unfortunately, the numbers show that we are not out of the woods yet.
That is why we have to continue to be careful, ”said Schwesig on Tuesday at the request of the German Press Agency.
On Wednesday, the state government wants to discuss opening prospects with representatives of municipalities, social associations and business.
"We want to advise on a step-by-step plan how openings can look like with corona numbers below 35," explained Schwesig.
In her own words, she wants to take this plan with her to the summit between the federal and state governments.
The corona situation is still difficult.
At the beginning of the year, the incidence values fell, in the past week this had stalled in the northeast as in all of Germany.
According to the latest figures from the State Office for Health and Social Affairs, 67.2 new corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants were counted within one week in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
A week earlier, this value was 63.4.
Schwesig emphasized that it should definitely remain with the decided easing for daycare centers, schools and hairdressers.
Hardware stores and garden centers have been open in Lower Saxony since February 13th.
Car dealers are allowed to offer test drives in the state again.
Prime Minister Stephan Weil presented a step-by-step Corona plan at the beginning of February and described it as a discussion draft.
"This is a plan that describes how it can be when it gets better and when it gets worse," said the SPD politician.
According to a number of experts, this step-by-step plan needs to be improved.
In a hearing organized by the Greens and the FDP, the tenor was clear on Tuesday: The intention to create more reliability with the plan was good.
But there was criticism of the criteria for the relaxation and the practical implementation.
The epidemiologist Gérard Krause spoke out against focusing on the seven-day value for corona infections.
The so-called incidence is “not a stable indicator” that shows the severity of the pandemic, said the researcher from the Braunschweig Helmholtz Center.
The value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants depends on the number of tests carried out.
In addition, the burden of disease, such as severe disease, and the containment, such as the length of chains of infection, should be given greater consideration.
Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) has continued to call for a cautious course in dealing with the corona pandemic, despite progressive vaccinations.
Not least because of the growing spread of the more contagious British virus mutation, caution remains the "order of the day," Laschet said on Tuesday.
"At the moment, openings are only possible to absorb serious damage," emphasized the Prime Minister.
That is why the primary schools have now been opened “as promised” - in a total of ten federal states.
“A primary school pupil cannot permanently experience education in front of the screen,” said Laschet.
According to Laschet, a number of accompanying protective measures are necessary for extensive openings in public life in the next few weeks.
This includes the planned widespread use of quick and self-tests, with the help of which openings could be facilitated: “If you test more, you can open more.” Digital options such as a newly introduced tracking app should also be part of the range of tools.
From the conference on March 3, Laschet expects a perspective for an opening strategy.
At the meeting there is also a need for a debate on how the prospects for the self-employed, culture, trade, gastronomy and sports clubs can be improved.
Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) also spoke out in favor of a further "on-sight drive": "There is no script for this pandemic." An important step towards more normality is a preferred vaccination for employees in schools and daycare centers.
The Rhineland-Palatinate state government agreed on Tuesday on details of the anti-corona measures that will apply from March 1.
In addition to hairdressers, flower shops, driving schools, pedicure and animal parks can also open from next Monday.
Garden and hardware stores are allowed to sell a “garden center-typical range”, but only outside, announced Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD).
One-to-one tuition in music schools should also be permitted again - with the exception of wind instruments.
Shops are also allowed to let individual customers into their shops after making an appointment to try on clothes, for example.
"We are also expanding our 'Click and Collect' regulations on a small scale," said Dreyer.
"From March 1st, 'date shopping' will also be possible."
By prior agreement, individual appointments could be made and only one household could enter the shop.
“This is a prospect for clothing stores and bridal wear stores, for example.” In the case of individual appointments, the mask requirement and the obligation to record contacts apply.
If several individual appointments were assigned for one day, a period of at least 15 minutes should be kept free between the end and the beginning of the respective appointments in order to carry out hygiene measures and to ventilate.
Further openings, for example for the catering trade, which has been closed for months, were not discussed at the government meeting, Dreyer said.
The state government still hopes that the federal and state governments will succeed in adopting a nationwide strategy on the crucial issues.
In the opinion of Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU), opening steps from the lockdown must be accompanied by increased tests.
"From my point of view, it is important that we continue to be careful and combine the openings with the expansion of tests," said Hans of the German Press Agency.
"We mustn't rush anything, but should proceed gradually and with a sense of proportion."
At the next federal-state consultations on March 3, further opening steps would be discussed - depending on the then existing pandemic.
"We are currently in a difficult phase," said Hans.
On the one hand, it was possible to slow down the infection rate - in large parts of the population the desire for prospects is "understandably great".
"On the other hand, hasty broad easing could open a gateway for the new variants with fatal consequences for the further course of the pandemic." You can already see that the previous good development is being slowed down by the virus variants.
"For me, the cautious path is the only one that can be justified in this pandemic," said the Saar government head.
The Saxon government currently sees no great opportunities for easing.
State Chancellor Oliver Schenk (CDU) made this clear on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting in Dresden.
He justified this mainly with the increase in mutations of the corona virus in Saxony.
Meanwhile, experts would speak of a "second pandemic".
By last Friday there had been 120 such cases in Saxony.
In March there could be a sharp increase in numbers if you don't take countermeasures.
The number of cases can be expected to double every week.
Contact follow-up will continue to play a central role.
In Saxony-Anhalt, in addition to schools and hairdressers, several branches of the economy are also allowed to reopen from March.
Garden centers, nurseries, flower shops as well as hardware stores, driving and flight schools could start operations again from next week, announced Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU).
"This is necessary because we also need these offers seasonally, also for the personal need to be active when the weather is better again."
In addition, top athletes should be allowed to train again, said the head of government.
With this, the state government wants to preserve the chances of "winning world championship and Olympic medals again," said Haseloff.
In addition to general education schools, sports schools should therefore also be allowed to reopen.
The state government had previously discussed the opening plan for Saxony-Anhalt announced two weeks ago for the first time.
A working group from the various ministries had worked out the plan.
It also provides for the gradual opening of other areas and is to be consulted with economic and social partners, municipal umbrella organizations and associations from the areas of social affairs, sport and culture by Friday.
In addition to the infection levels, factors such as vaccination progress, the spread of mutated virus variants and the occupancy of the hospitals should also play a role in the plan.
On Tuesday of next week - one day before the federal-state talks - the state government is supposed to finally adopt the plan.
In Schleswig-Holstein, too, garden centers and hardware stores are allowed to reopen from March 1st.
A spokesman for the state government emphasized that the Schleswig-Holstein step-by-step plan was adhered to as the basis for the upcoming federal-state consultations.
For this, the state has received a lot of encouragement at the preliminary consultations in recent days.
According to this plan, further opening steps should be strictly linked to the incidence figures, the R-value and the stress on the clinics.
The aim would be to partially reopen the retail trade on March 8, then possibly also the catering and hotel industry at the beginning of April.
Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) will in all likelihood present in the state parliament on Friday the positions with which his government will start the crisis summit of the federal and state governments.
Like Schleswig-Holstein, the SPD-ruled states also want to move into the next Prime Minister's Conference with an opening plan.
According to information from WELT, this plan largely corresponds to the step-by-step plan that the Berlin Senate discussed on Tuesday.
A new corona regulation has been in effect in Thuringia since Friday, which initially extends the lockdown in its main features until mid-March instead of only until March 8, as planned.
But it also contains relaxation.
Primary schools and daycare centers can reopen in limited regular operation, driving schools can offer lessons again and hairdressers can offer their services again from March 1st.
Horticultural companies and gardeners can also sell their goods again from March 1st.
The infection rate in Thuringia has recently slowed down somewhat.
With 120 registered new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within the past seven days, however, it remains the federal state most severely affected by the pandemic.
That emerges from an overview by the Robert Koch Institute on Tuesday.