On the Bocksberg in the Harz Mountains, a thick layer of fresh snow should glisten in the sun at the weekend. And it should hold up: on the summit, temperatures reach around -7 degrees Celsius on Saturday and Sunday. Actually perfect conditions for passionate skiers – wouldn’t exactly be a pandemic.
Many beliefs and habits had to believe in it in the past year, and in the January lockdown, foresight and renunciation are required in order to prevent the corona virus from spreading further and preventing even more deaths. Therefore, the affected communities are now arming themselves to prevent a repeated run on ski peaks and toboggan slopes at the weekend.
Although ski lifts, slopes, restaurants and huts were closed, crowds have rushed into the ski areas in recent days and weeks. For example, on the Bocksberg in the Goslar district. The police spoke of a “chaos to the power of three”. “Everything is collapsing,” said a spokesman for the Goslar police station last weekend.
The spokesman for the district, Maximilian Strache, tells the Tagesspiegel that they have repeatedly appealed in vain to people not to go on trips to the Harz Mountains. “We’re not making the lockdown so that everyone has free time to drive to the Harz Mountains, but rather to reduce contacts.”
“That was catastrophic, all the escape routes were parked up.”
But of course the District Administrator Thomas Brych (SPD) tries to appeal again. “There are incorrigible ones and they will continue to exist,” comments Strache. But the district will counter this, among other things, with a “massive contingent of police and law enforcement officers”.
How many officials in the Goslar district will be on duty on Saturday and Sunday, Strache does not want to say, but it should be several hundred forces.
The district especially wants to prevent a traffic chaos like last weekend. “That was a catastrophe, all the escape routes were blocked.” The large car park in the turf house was also overcrowded, so many drivers simply parked on the side of the road.
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These cars would be towed this time. If necessary, the police will also block the B4 federal road – the main entrance to the Upper Harz. The police and the public order office will check popular tobogganing slopes, hiking trails and the associated parking lots to ensure that the distance rules are observed and that visitors wear a mask.
Because in the large Torfhaus car park and in the start area of many toboggan slopes, mouth and nose protection is mandatory. In addition, the rental of skis and sleds is prohibited on weekends.
Criticism: skiing as a realm sport and fear of “Ischgl” again
The headlines about overcrowded ski areas in the new year provoked criticism, among other things, in the social networks. With a view to the mass infections in Ischgl in March 2020 and the still high corona numbers, many complained about egoism and a lack of discipline among day-trippers.
The tenor: skiing is a sport for the upper class. Working-class families could not afford extensive skiing leisure time anyway. High earners would exercise their privileges on the backs of lower-income sections of the population, who will feel the negative effects of the lockdown even more.
And the well-known urban-rural conflict flared up: A few days ago in Miesbach on the Bavarian Schliersee a sign apparently set up by residents was seen, illustrated with a Munich license plate and a middle finger. The inscription: “Fuck off! We don’t want you … ”
Schliersee’s mayor Franz Schnitzenbaumer (CSU) received in response to his appeals that people from the surrounding cities should stay at home, emails from angry Munich residents who felt attacked. Nevertheless, Schnitzenbaumer finds that a conflict between town and country is “artificially constructed”.
“We get on well with the city of Munich and we’re glad that we have it at our door,” he told Tagesspiegel. Last but not least, Munich is an important business location for Schliersee.
Why the 15-kilometer rule doesn’t help
Nevertheless, the community wants to prevent further gatherings. “We will probably be overrun again at the weekend,” fears Schnitzenbaumer. Therefore, the traffic will be monitored more closely, the police will set up a parking guidance system in front of the ski areas to control the number of day trippers. The mayor believes that the appeals and measures will be met with understanding among the population.
The regions affected must also build on insight and understanding. Because even the curfew decided by the federal and state governments outside of a 15-kilometer radius for cities and districts with a 7-day incidence of 200 or more is unlikely to provide any remedy.
In Munich, for example, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the value is 113 – well below the 200 mark. In Baden-Württemberg, on the other hand, the 15-kilometer rule will probably not be implemented, according to Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens).
That is why the district of Göppingen in the Black Forest has to take more drastic measures: A ski slope has been cleared there and associated parking spaces have been blocked, as the spokeswoman for the district office Clarissa Weber announced. “The rush of visitors should then be manageable again and subsequently be able to be monitored again with regard to compliance with the corona rules.”
Are closures of ski areas disproportionate?
Not all local politicians consider blocking entire slopes to be necessary or even right. For example Stefan Reuss (SPD), district administrator of the Werra-Meißner district in northern Hesse. There is the Hohe Meißner, where similar problems recently arose as in other summit locations.
“That was an unsustainable situation,” Reuss told Tagesspiegel, referring primarily to escape routes that were parked. That is why he, like the district of Goslar, relies on increased controls and consistent imposing of fines.
Anyone who parks on the street will be towed away, and road access will be blocked. And yet the contact restrictions were largely complied with last weekend, reports Reuss. Groups of people would form especially in front of ski lifts. However, these are not open on the Meißner. “So we can leave the Meissner open and don’t have to block him. That would be disproportionate, ”says Reuss.
The many visitors in the ski areas and on the toboggan mountains are probably one too Symptom of lockdown fatigue and the urge to move around when the gym is closed. In Goslar in the Harz region, people understand the need for variety.
Blocking the resin is also seen as disproportionate there. Controls are the mean of the hour. But the dichotomy between the principle of “stay at home” and the granting of freedom of movement remains.