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The day of the decision: how Merkel’s Corona “emergency brake” came about – politics

Wait a while for the decision to be made. These are terrible days, also for Berlin politics. A large black-and-white photograph of Thomas Oppermann hangs in front of the plenary hall of the Bundestag, his place in the SPD group covered with a black cloth and white flowers. His youngest son, who looks like he has been cut from his face, is crying bitterly in the stands.

Chancellor Angela Merkel sits on the government bench with a petrified expression. An hour before the Corona news starts with the Prime Minister, this topic is a long way off. Everyone is shocked by the unexpected death of the Bundestag Vice President.

Heads of state such as Berlin’s Michael Müller and Oppermann’s walking buddy, Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil, are also in attendance. The large distances between all mourners, the protective masks, are an indication of the environmental conditions.

For the Corona switch, the late SPD politician Thomas Oppermann was honored in the Bundestag Photo: imago images / Christian Spicker

“Apocalyptic Threat Scenarios”

In the hours leading up to this brief moment of contemplation and mourning, Merkel could read what kind of resistance is brewing again, starting with some prime ministers and the industries affected by their plans to shut down to Andreas Gassen, head of legal health insurance, who leads Merkel. . caustic that apocalyptic threat scenarios are drawn with “gloomy expressions”.

But this time, the Chancellor has the power of the de facto and decisive allies on her side. Two weeks ago she said at the federal state meeting, “We’ll be back here in two weeks. It’s just not enough what we’re doing here. ‘

That happened. This time, however, you will be connecting via video. It’s much more focused. Everyone knows that clear, drastic measures are needed.

At the end of the day, Merkel will say that, despite the varying incidence of infection, everyone has agreed on a “national effort to” flatten the curve, “as she puts it.” This is very good news for me she says of the decisions after four and a half hours of negotiation.

It’s also her comeback as Corona Chancellor, recently it didn’t work out with the followers. Merkel has tried time and again to specifically address the citizens, but her calls to refrain from parties, travel and contacts have died down.

Her most important husband is the head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, who had sent the motion for a resolution “From October 27, 10:29 pm” to the State Chancellery the night before, the concept of a clear brake. But it’s unclear if she’ll get through.

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Scholz’s move

That is why Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, SPD, is of great importance on the part of the federal government on this day. He immediately unpacked a new “bazooka”: the heads of state must agree to support of up to ten billion euros to support the second (partial) lockdown. Up to 75 percent of sales in the same month last year need to be replaced – for quite a few, that could be more than they would earn in November 2020 under Corona conditions.

Merkel continues to know that Markus Söder, CSU of Bavaria, by her side, but also Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, CDU, is trying to avoid the impression that he is refusing to take harsh measures. To leave this in court, the group is calling for a special epidemiological emergency, addressing “the legal importance of protecting the health of the population” and “preventing even greater economic damage in the event of an uncontrolled pandemic. -development”.

The first deal: Starting next Monday, November 2, national contact restrictions will apply, which will be monitored. A maximum of ten people from two households may meet. Even in private homes, more people are “unacceptable”.

To reduce the incentive to travel a lot, Merkel also wants to close the supply side; contacts should be cut by as much as 75 percent, she warns. The group agrees to close all leisure and cultural facilities for four weeks, the country is threatened with a November blues: theaters, cinemas, opera houses. Amateur sport must also pause, in professional sport spectators are no longer allowed in stadiums and halls.

Particularly controversial: the renewed lockdown for the catering industry Photo: dpa

The annoying switch with the RKI boss

But the Chancellor wants more: it is therefore a pity for Merkel that a switch with the chairman of the Robert Koch Institute, RKI, Lothar Wieler, has become public. He told the Chancellery “that restaurants are NOT the drivers of the pandemic,” the Bild writes. The RKI boss as a key witness that restaurants can remain open? “That was a shitty switch,” said a coalition politician familiar with the issue.

The resulting public excitement is counterproductive to Merkel’s goal of swearing all government leaders to harsh measures, although complaints can be expected from restaurants where, unlike bars, distances and hygiene concepts work well.

But Wieler’s rumor statement is being shortened. Because the RKI has shown in a management report that while the contamination rate in restaurants is manageable, it also highlights, “Only about a quarter of the total reported Covid-19 cases can be attributed to an outbreak.” That means: because in many places contact tracking is no longer possible due to exponential growth, in 75 percent of the cases you do not know where someone is infected.

Hence the plan for a wide “breakwater closure”, not as tough as in the spring. Schools, nurseries, shops and hairdressers must remain open and economic life must continue to run normally. The reigning mayor of Berlin, the SPD, later said in the presence of the Chancellor: “This is just about human lives that can be saved.”

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But it is surprising that the countries also join in when restaurants and pubs close; There are also new bans on accommodation: accommodations may only be offered for “non-tourist purposes”. Müller speaks of very difficult decisions, but he also supports them so that nurseries and schools can remain open, otherwise there is a risk of increasing domestic violence against children.

Merkel justifies her plan internally by saying a break in trend by December would also save Christmas. She achieved what was denied her two weeks ago, even though Thuringian Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) emphasized the decision in a protocol note. that parliaments should be more involved.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was more successful this time than last time Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch

The power of numbers

The Chancellor relied in advance on targeted pressure build-up, so that in the second attempt it works with resolutions of “historical dimensions”, as Helge Braun wanted for October 14. She calculated that the number of cases has currently doubled in one week. Intensive care patients every ten days. If there are four more such doubles, then “the system is at the end”, warned participants in the parliamentary group of the Union.

Before the switch began, the Robert Koch Institute reported 14,964 new corona infections within one day – a new record. In addition, the number of corona cases among the over-60s is increasing rapidly and that of intensive care patients is already 1574, of which 766 need to be ventilated.

If it continues like this, intensive care beds could become scarce within a few weeks. Söder says the scientists’ predictions would be confirmed with “alarming precision.”

The “Kassandra” Karl Lauterbach also helped

One often mocked like Cassandra invented the term “breakwater” for lockdown or, as he puts it, shutdown: Karl Lauterbach. The consultations involved the SPD health expert and Charité virologist Christian Drosten. Lauterbach is important to Merkel to swear the SPD side for a tough race. On the day of the decision, he gave an early morning presentation by phone about a new study from Imperial College on IQ loss due to Covid’s disease 19.

You may wonder when Lauterbach still has time to read studies. The virus reaches the brain through the olfactory nerves and blood vessels, he explains. If the course is tough, you will lose an average of 8.5 IQ points. “The brain ages by 10 years”. At the end of this day, which will be thought about for a long time, as Söder says, even Karl Lauterbach is satisfied: the resolutions are “a milestone against the coronavirus in Germany”.

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