The second coronavirus wave is significantly worse than that in spring. On Saturday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 22,964 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours. Compared to the value a week ago, a good 500 more cases were reported. On Sunday there were therefore 15,741 new infections, but the numbers are usually lower because not all health authorities transmit their data.
In view of the continued high level of infection, hardly anyone expects the current restrictions to expire at the end of November. But what’s next in December?
On Wednesday, the state leaders will meet again with the federal government. At the next meeting, prospects should be given until Christmas, possibly even until the turn of the year.
The fact that the government assumes that the measures will be extended beyond November also shows that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) will, according to reports on Sunday, take on a further 65 billion euros in debt. This includes an additional “lockdown buffer”, as the “Bild” writes.
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According to the paper, the Union-led countries also agree that the contact restrictions should be relaxed at least over the Christmas holidays so that people without family can celebrate the festival with friends. The SPD-governed countries also want easing for the holidays.
There is apparently a consensus among the education ministers of the federal states that schools should remain open in principle, but according to information from the news portal “ThePioneer” and the German Press Agency, they plead for exceptions. What do the federal and state governments want? An overview.
What does the federal government want?
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel had already made it clear after the last meeting that she had hoped for further decisions. She sees a need to catch up in the fight against the corona pandemic in Germany. A “united, joint response” from the federal and state governments is necessary, said Merkel on Sunday in Berlin. “We’re working on that now.”
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated this on Friday. He said it was no secret that the Federal Chancellor and the head of the Federal Chancellery could have imagined more far-reaching regulations this week. The wish now is to go together towards the turn of the year.
Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said the “Bild am Sonntag” (BamS): “Everything indicates that the current restrictions must continue beyond November 30th for a while.” He said that despite visible results “not yet enough”. Everyone suspects that “there must be extensions” of the measures adopted.
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier warned against another postponement. “We need courageous decisions now, the economy and everyone involved want clarity,” said the CDU politician in the “Interview of the Week” on Deutschlandfunk.
The goal must be to celebrate a Christmas that comes close to this claim, albeit on a modest scale. But that can only be achieved if the number of corona infections were reduced sustainably in the next few weeks, “and that means that we simply cannot afford to postpone another postponement.”
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn rated the partial lockdown that has been in place since the beginning of November as a success. “The breakwater works,” said the CDU politician to “Welt”. “The exponential growth is broken. We agree that this is not enough. But it was successful – once more. “
Spahn justified the great importance that the federal government attaches to the number of infections. “We are the country with one of the oldest populations in the world,” said the minister. As the number of infections increases, sooner or later the need for treatment in intensive care units will also increase. “I want us to break the wave before there is unnecessary suffering in the hospitals,” emphasized Spahn.
A big question is what rules should apply on the holidays. Chancellery Minister Helge Braun (CDU) said on Saturday: “It is inconceivable for me that the grandparents do not celebrate at Christmas,” he told the “Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland”. “That is why you have to take special care.” Braun emphasized: “More important than the number of people who come together is that you reduce your contacts beforehand and make sure that nobody has symptoms.”
The focus is not only on Christmas, but also on New Year’s Eve. At the Union parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Merkel is said to have said that the question of how to design New Year’s Eve was “even more complicated”. This also has to be discussed at the European level.
If, for example, Austria comes down relatively quickly from the very high infection rate due to the hard lockdown there, one still has to be careful that everything is not torn down again on New Year’s Eve when the ski season opens there.
What do the federal states want?
According to “Business Insider”, the country is considering extending the closure of restaurants and leisure facilities until at least December 20. According to Tagesspiegel information, restaurants, cafés, pubs and cultural institutions in Berlin should in fact remain closed until shortly before Christmas – probably even over New Year’s Eve until the New Year 2021. The number of permissible contacts could also be further reduced.
According to the will of the Union countries, according to “Bild”, countries and districts with fewer than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants should have the opportunity to suspend the corona measures within seven days (“opt-out rule”). As of Saturday evening, only Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and around two dozen districts could benefit from this.
What do the Prime Ministers say?
The current chairman of the Prime Minister’s Conference, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD), expects the partial lockdown to be extended beyond the end of November. This weekend, the representatives of the countries will agree on a common approach to the corona pandemic. “We agree that a lot has already been achieved, but not enough. Although the exponential growth has been slowed down, the number of infections is still too high, ”he said. “Against this background, it is currently inconceivable that we can now revoke the previously decided measures.”
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said the BamS: “In order to be able to spend a nice Christmas, we have to extend the lockdown and certainly also deepen it.” The CSU boss added: “At least until we have reached the incidence value of 50 again.”
This value was already mentioned as a target when the tightened restrictions were issued at the beginning of November, because then it is assumed that the health system will not be permanently overloaded. Currently the value is around 140.
Söder said: “If we break the lockdown at this high level of infection numbers and lose patience, then everything starts all over again and we end up with even tougher measures than now in the Czech Republic or Austria.” And: “Better now a longer lockdown than a complete exit restriction over Christmas. “Söder said that Christmas should be” freer “,” for New Year’s Eve more consistent “. For New Year’s Eve he would like a ban on firecrackers or alcohol in larger places.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) announced plans to promote stricter contact restrictions. “A family can only meet with two other people from another household,” Laschet told the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” on Friday. He wanted to submit this proposal to the Prime Minister’s Conference.
From the experience at the beginning of the Corona crisis in spring, it is known that the principle works. At that time, people’s mobility decreased significantly and so did the rate of infection. “If we apply this principle consistently, restrictions on gastronomy or culture can be withdrawn in the medium term if the number of infections continues to fall,” said the CDU federal vice and candidate for the party chairmanship.
The Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) also gives the citizens little hope of a quick relaxation of the corona requirements. “It can already be said that we will certainly have to continue to live with restrictions over the coming months,” said the SPD politician at the dpa news agency in Mainz.
The federal states are currently preparing the next meeting with Merkel “very trustingly and constructively”. “This should open up perspectives as part of an overall concept for December and January to give people more planning security,” said Dreyer, without giving any specific details.
For Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil In the federal-state consultations, it is important to “make reliable regulations that extend beyond Christmas and New Year”. The SPD politician suggested in the “Handelsblatt” that the same rules apply everywhere above 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.
“That doesn’t apply to every detail, but the line must be as clear and uniform as possible across the borders of the federal states,” he said. “Should the infection rate in individual countries settle resiliently below the threshold value in the course of December, one could possibly think about easing the situation there.”
From the perspective of Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) the state must continue to pay compensation in the coming months if further closings are ordered. If there should be extended restrictions in certain areas, it must be “financially supported”, he said on Friday in a debate in the Magdeburg state parliament, as reported by the dpa. The administrative courts had made it clear in several rulings that the state containment measures would otherwise not be appropriate.
What do the ministers of education want in terms of schools?
According to a resolution by the ministers of education, schools particularly affected in hotspot areas with a large number of infections should be able to switch to “rolling face-to-face teaching” in smaller learning groups from the 11th grade onwards, i.e. a change from learning at school and at home.
In a second step, this is also planned for the lower grades of secondary schools. In any case, the final classes should stay in school. The Union countries want something similar: In Corona hotspots with a seven-day incidence of over 200, there should be switching lessons from the 7th grade.
According to the will of the education ministers, more tests are to be carried out at particularly affected schools. After a vaccine has been approved, the school staff should receive a vaccination offer according to their request.
Spahn proposed a new concept for containing corona infections in schools. “Really interrupting the chains of infection and at the same time remaining practical, that is the task,” he told the editorial network in Germany. Specifically, he suggested that if an infection occurs, the class affected should be sent to isolation at home immediately. So far, this has not been the case in some cases or only in the immediate neighbors of those infected.
“After negative rapid tests on the fifth day, the students could return to school,” said Spahn. Whether this is feasible from the point of view of the federal states on site must be discussed on Wednesday.
The previous attitude of the federal states that schools are generally not a driver of the pandemic is “no longer tenable”, says the director of the virological university institute in Düsseldorf, Jörg Timm, of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. Smaller children are less likely to be infected with the virus, but they can pass it on. Children from twelve are “just as contagious as adults”: “That is why school children definitely play a role.”