Some in the federal states are likely a bit shocked when Chancellor Secretary Helge Braun clarified two things with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday in the preparatory meeting for the round of prime ministers. On the one hand, the chancellor expects, according to the often pleasant Hesse, that the country leaders will come to Berlin personally – when the round of 16 had initially agreed to hold another exchange conference because of the corona.
To underline the urgency, Braun gave the heads of the state chancellery the impression that the meeting with Merkel could take on a “historical dimension”. But what does that mean? Given the debate that has been going on for days over patchwork, small states, and anyone-do-what-they-want complaints, the federal government should use the option written in the Federal Council’s Protests against Infection Act in March ( but with his consent), give the federal states – without their approval – instructions on regulatory matters? So to rule?
Probably not. Despite all the grumbling in federal politics, Merkel is more concerned about the collective staging of the determination of all those responsible not to let the epidemic get out of hand and to act as uniformly as possible.
Even one of the prime ministers publicly struck the same tone on Tuesday: Markus Söder. The Bavarian head of government sees the republic shortly before the loss of control and refers to other states, such as France, where the number of cases suddenly skyrocketed in October. In Germany, where the epidemic has so far been well dealt with, it must not happen before winter that people chase the developments. “It’s 5 to 12 to prevent uncontrolled development,” was Söder’s dramatic summary of the situation. It is unclear whether all of his colleagues share them.
Residence ban just a minor issue?
However, with the controversial ban on residence, Söder hinted that he did not want to fight. He praised his colleague Manuela Schwesig from Schwerin for reiterating in the morning that the general line in force in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania since May – no accommodation for tourists from hotspots without negative test submission – has helped to keep the number of infections in the country. Until two weeks ago, however, there were hardly any hotspots, and only since Berlin – and especially the inner-city districts – reported excessive numbers of cases has the likelihood come to a boiling point.
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The reigning Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, would like to lift the ban – but his position in Berlin is not necessarily the opinion of the majority. However, the housing ban is only a “minor issue,” said Söder. This is also how you see it in a West German state chancellery, where you fear that the subject could overlap more important things. In November, the stay ban should no longer be a problem anyway, because then all autumn holidays are over. An East German state chancellery complained about the fact that in Bavaria the ban only applies to “non-Bavarian travelers”. Maybe not after the round at Merkel, because Söder wants rules that are as uniform as possible.
Is the hotspot rule being redesigned?
The fact that all urban and rural districts (and in Berlin the districts) with more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants are considered hotspots within seven days should remain the general rule. This was introduced in the spring and is still seen as a good indicator to start with the first countermeasures. But even then, the number of 35 new infections was also looked at. Is there a more flexible solution now? With the first bars already with the smaller number? The more hotspots there will be, and this is to be expected with the start of the cold season, the more preventive action will be required. Merkel has already proposed using the Bundeswehr to support the follow-up of the lower infection rate.
Is there an extended mask requirement?
Last but not least, wearing masks plays an important role in prevention. Here in particular, Söder wants uniform rules that must then apply and be checked in both Friedrichshain and Munich or Hamburg. Learning that hitchhiking is a potential infectious agent, he can also imagine being forced to wear a mask –
And an upper limit for parties?
The fact that some state governments have also recently decided on upper limits for celebrations suggests another nationwide measure. Because large parties or weddings with dozens of guests turn out to be events with a greater chance of spreading the virus. An example: The holiday island of Sylt is currently startled by a corona case, which could become a “superspreader event”, as the local government fears. In the night of 3 to 4 October there was a break in a bistro in Westerland. One man was infected. Distance rules were ignored, guest lists were not kept, the QR code entry did not work. The hundred participants were searched and apparently found via Facebook. But that will not always work. In Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, the upper limit for parties outside private rooms was therefore already limited to 50.
Longer Christmas holidays in January?
In contrast, the idea of extending the Christmas holidays by two or three weeks and shortening it in the summer is unlikely to be well received by the group. Two backbenchers from the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag brought this up for discussion. The response on Tuesday was not very encouraging for either of them. People now talk more about teaching, Söder said, not about extending holidays. The Minister of Education of Baden-Württemberg, Susanne Eisenmann (CDU), rejected the proposal. “Even at the end of January, winter isn’t over yet, so this is a bit shortsighted,” she said. The schools would face additional school organizational challenges, for example by confusing learning and exam periods.