BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – It is a busy weekend for the state chancellery heads of the federal states: They join forces several times in different groups to discuss how to proceed in the corona pandemic. On Monday, their bosses want the submission of the countries for the consultations on Wednesday with the Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to lash down – so that it does not run back as conflictual as in the previous week.
It is already becoming apparent that an extension of the partial lockdown by two to three weeks is very likely. Federal and several state politicians see no other way, Christian Democrats as well as Social Democrats.
“The fact is that we are not yet as far as we would have liked to have come through the contact restrictions,” said Merkel on Sunday in Berlin after the two-day virtual G20 summit. In many federal states a plateau of new infections had been reached, in a few countries the numbers also fell significantly, in others they rose. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) said on Sunday in Berlin that the development of the number of cases is not where you want to go. “And that’s why everyone suspects that there must be an extension.”
“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,” Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller told the German Press Agency on Sunday. “Against this background, it is currently inconceivable that we can now revoke the previously agreed measures,” emphasized the chairman of the conference of prime ministers. “How long we have to extend and how exactly we should structure it is currently being discussed among ourselves. We are on the right track, so that we will have drafted a resolution by Wednesday, which the federal and state governments will then discuss together again.”
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) told “Bild am Sonntag”: “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 a longer lockdown now than a complete exit restriction over Christmas.”
THE CURRENT SITUATION:
Since the beginning of November, all leisure and cultural offers across Germany have been put on hold, bars, cafes and restaurants are closed. The partial lockdown should initially apply until the end of the month. After a rapid increase in October and early November, the number of new infections leveled off at a high level. The decline hoped for after the partial lockdown came into force cannot be clearly seen, as can be seen from Sunday’s figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
On Sunday, the RKI reported 15,741 cases that were reported by the health authorities within 24 hours. On Sunday a week ago, the number was 16,947. The highest level was reached on Friday with 23,648 cases. According to data from the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, the number of corona patients in the intensive care unit continues to rise, but less recently.
The Union states are therefore pressing for an extension of the corona restrictions until at least Christmas, as reported by “Bild” (online) from a preliminary meeting of the Union-led federal states before the upcoming federal-state meeting.
What does that mean…?
FOR THE NEXT WEEKS: Without an extension, the restrictions would have to expire at the end of November. How long they should last beyond that seems to be unclear. “In any case, two or better three weeks,” says Söder. That would be until shortly before Christmas. The business magazine “Business Insider” named the date December 20th, referring to country groups.
According to “Bild”, the Union countries agree that contact restrictions should be relaxed at least over the Christmas holidays. According to “Bild am Sonntag”, the SPD-governed countries also want easing for the festive season. The Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) told the newspaper: “Christmas and New Year’s Eve, people should be able to meet their loved ones.” Previously, the head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, had told the editorial network Germany (RND / Saturday): “It is inconceivable for me that the grandparents do not celebrate at Christmas.”
In a Forsa survey on behalf of the Kaufmännische Krankenkasse (KKH), 41 percent of the around 1000 respondents expressed concern about having to celebrate the festival in small groups or alone because of the pandemic. The candidate for the CDU chairmanship, Friedrich Merz, told the “Tagesspiegel”: “You can say in mid-November that Christmas can take place in families.”
FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE:
Söder says that Christmas should be “freer”, “but New Year’s Eve should be more consistent”. For New Year’s Eve he would like a ban on firecrackers or alcohol in larger places. “But there is no need for a general ban on firecrackers.”
The education ministers of the federal states insist on keeping them open, but plead for exceptions, according to information from the news portal “ThePioneer” (Saturday) and the German press agency. According to a resolution on Friday, 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 study 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.
“Really interrupt chains of infection and at the same time remain practical, that is the task,” said Spahn to the RND (Monday). 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 people sitting next to the infected person. “After negative quick tests on the fifth day, the students could return to school,” said Spahn.
The previous attitude of the federal states that schools are generally not a driver of the pandemic is “no longer tenable,” said 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”.
According to the will of the education ministers, there should be more tests at schools particularly affected by Corona. After a vaccine has been approved, school staff should receive a vaccination offer as a matter of priority.
FOR THE INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES:
According to the will of the Union countries, according to “Bild”, countries and districts with fewer than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants are to be given the opportunity to suspend the corona measures within seven days (“opt-out rule”). Currently only Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and around two dozen districts could benefit from this.
Federal Finance Minister Scholz wants to continue to pay the aid for companies that have to close due to the corona restrictions, possibly in December. “If the restrictions are extended, it is clear to me that the financial support of the sectors directly affected will then also continue to be necessary,” said Scholz of “Bild am Sonntag” ./ and / DP / fba