Corona test centers have been an integral part of the cityscape in Germany for more than a year. But the free tests are now over. The centers will continue to exist, but most people will have to pay three euros from Thursday if they want to know whether they are infected.
Just test for Corona for free - after more than a year, that's over for the time being. From Thursday, there should only be quick tests for state and taxpayer costs at test stations or in pharmacies for certain groups. Others have to pay three euros. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and Finance Minister Christian Lindner agreed on this last week.
What is fundamentally changing?
So far, everyone - even without corona symptoms or a specific reason - was entitled to at least one free quick test per week by trained staff including a test notification, which usually comes directly to the smartphone and can be used as proof. The free offer is now, with a few exceptions, "suspended", as stated in the draft of the Federal Ministry of Health for the new Corona Test Ordinance, which was announced last week. The revised regulation and the new rules are due to come into force on Thursday, according to the ministry.
Who still gets free trials?
People who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. These are, for example, women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Household members of infected people, children up to five years of age and residents and visitors of nursing homes, facilities for people with disabilities and clinics should continue to be able to be tested free of charge. According to the draft, this also applies to people who, after a corona infection, need proof that they are negative again so that they can go back to work, for example.
And who has to pay three euros?
The three-euro tests are intended for visitors to family celebrations, concerts or another "event in an indoor space" on the same day. This should help to prevent so-called super spreader events, in which many people become infected at once. Anyone who has a red Corona warning app or who plans to meet other people over 60 or with previous illnesses should also get a three-euro test.
Everyone can say, "I want to visit my sick grandmother". How should that be controlled?
The justification for the draft regulation states that such visits must be made "credible". With the three-euro test, for example, you always have to sign that the test is being taken because of a planned visit to a concert, a family celebration or a visit to a relative who is already ill. It remains to be seen whether this will deter potential scammers sufficiently. A concert ticket can also be shown as proof. When visiting relatives or family celebrations, it is naturally difficult to provide receipts.
What evidence is still required?
As before, an "official photo ID" must be presented. But many children up to five - for whom there are still free tests - do not have an ID card or children's passport, criticizes the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. In practice, it should work as recommended by the Ministry of Health: For children without ID, it is sufficient if the legal guardians present their ID. Pregnant women can use the maternity pass as proof of a free test. Household members of infected people show their test results.
Why is the test offer restricted at all?
Because it got too expensive. According to Lauterbach, the free tests had recently devoured one billion euros per month. They have existed - with a brief interruption last autumn - since spring 2021. "Not everything can be paid for by the federal government in the long term because our possibilities have reached their limits," Finance Minister Lindner justified the step. According to Lauterbach, the new concept still envisages costs of 2.7 billion euros by the end of the year. If the current practice were to continue, it would be 5 billion.
Will the federal states take over the three euro share?
Lauterbach had referred to the possibility that the federal states could take over the three euros for the citizens. According to the latest information, the federal states have no plans for this.