S.Even in less dramatic times of the pandemic, Lothar Wieler is a man of clear words. But his collar has never burst as violently as on Wednesday in public. Germany is in a “dire emergency” and will experience a “bad Christmas”, the RKI boss prophesied and sharply criticized the Corona policy: too sluggish, too careless, too much opened too quickly, although the scenarios for the winter have been open since July were known. After 21 months, Wieler grumbled, he could no longer bear the fact that he and the virologists were not being listened to.
In fact, the corona situation in Germany has never been as dramatic as in this second pandemic winter – but unfortunately you still do not have the impression that German politicians are resolutely countering this drama. It’s like a déjà vu: like a year ago, politics has been appeasing and waiting since the summer, when the number of infections was still deceptively low. And even now, since the infection curve rises up like a vertical line, the parties, like on Thursday in the Bundestag, are more concerned with pointing the blame and party-political bickering than with pragmatic solutions.
Why not a “Corona coalition”?
It is true: the interregnum between the old and the new government does not make crisis management any easier. Nonetheless, many citizens are likely to wonder why the old government and the likely new government haven’t sat down at the table with the prime ministers for a long time. Why did a non-partisan “Corona coalition” not agree on a new infection protection law before the constitution of the new Bundestag, which would have found a majority in the Bundestag beyond the traffic lights and which could have been implemented in concert in the federal states?
Instead: procedural small and small and political lack of instinct everywhere. The traffic light coalitionists, who wanted to stand for a new departure, walled themselves in for weeks in their coalition talks, while the country slid deeper and deeper into disaster. The fact that their Infection Protection Act does not allow a general lockdown or school closings in the worst phase of the pandemic is evidence of myopia. According to the opening clause, the federal states can in future, among other things, prohibit leisure and sporting events and, if necessary, also forbid gatherings in public places – given the dynamics of the infection, it is at least questionable whether such selective regulations are still sufficient for a rapid trend reversal.
The example of Austria, which first tried a lockdown for unvaccinated people, but has now imposed a general lockdown and compulsory vaccination again, gives rise to fears that Germany will soon have no other choice either. The only difference is that it would then not be possible to act quickly because there is no longer a corresponding legal basis.
The comprehensive 2-G regulation, which was decided depending on the hospitalization rate, is correct, but should have come much earlier. Now its effects will only show in a few weeks – until then, many people will end up in intensive care units every day. If you are lucky enough to get a bed.
Systemic political discouragement
In the crisis, it becomes painfully evident how systemic political indolence, discouragement and client thinking have long been in Germany. When it comes to compulsory vaccinations and lockdown, the FDP clings to its pathos of freedom out of fear that the liberal base could resent both of them as deprivation of liberty. For months there have been signs that the effectiveness of the vaccine protection is waning faster than hoped. Despite this, there was no large-scale vaccination campaign, many vaccination centers were closed and it is now taking weeks to reactivate them – although, unlike last year, there is plenty of vaccine available. And while booster vaccinations have long been administered unbureaucratically to everyone over the age of 18 in many countries, the STIKO in Germany gives endless advice in order to arrive at the same result weeks later.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron launched a decisive vaccination campaign at an early stage and in September introduced compulsory vaccination for staff in hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies. Opponents of vaccination have to expect wage cuts; If you are over 65 and cannot be boosted, your health card will expire. And that in a country whose protest culture is much more pronounced than ours. France is a centralized state, Germany is not. But more courage to make clear decisions against resistance would be enough to get started.
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