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Medical societies call for uniform Covid-19 rules

Bad communication and differences between federal states confuse people and lower acceptance, societies say

A network of 24 medical societies has urged the German government to implement social distancing rules in a fair, uniform and evidence-based way to ensure the public will follow them.

The societies published their demands and recommendations in an open letter, addressing the different speeds at which individual federal states are lifting the restrictions on public life introduced with the coronavirus outbreak. The variety of regional rules increases the risk of public confusion and has lowered acceptance of individual measures, the letter said.

According to the societies, grouped under the name Public Health Covid-19, Germany’s federal states need to come up with a joined-up, science-based procedure on coronavirus, in which restrictions for infection control are weighed up against public risk. The statement also called for more transparent communication on regionally implemented measures in order to counteract public conception that they are arbitrary.

Better communication around social distancing would reduce such an impression and increase acceptance and understanding of the implemented measures, Public Health Covid-19 said. The greatest challenge, however, is social inequality, they warned.

“Many people currently live or work under conditions that make it impossible for them to protect themselves and others from infection: They have to live together in cramped conditions and work despite illness or insufficient protection,” the 24 societies said.

Their demands would be ineffective “as long as our society and the responsible politicians accept such framework conditions and do not fundamentally change them,” said Corinna Schaefer, a spokeswoman for Public Health Covid-19.