Germany is looking forward to the coming Wednesday: On this day, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) wants to discuss with the Prime Ministers of the federal states the next phase in the fight against the spread of the corona virus. On the basis of the number of cases and compliance with the exit restrictions on the public holidays, it should also be a question of how the measures initially limited until April 19 will continue.
Merkel (CDU) called on Thursday to comply with the Corona requirements for the Easter days. “We cannot be reckless now,” she warned. “We have to stay focused, the situation is fragile.” Relaxation will “only be possible in small steps,” said Merkel. “We always have to consider the consequences.”
[Alle aktuellen Entwicklungen in Folge der Coronavirus-Pandemie finden Sie hier in unserem Newsblog. Über die Entwicklungen speziell in Berlin halten wir Sie an dieser Stelle auf dem Laufenden.]
Several country heads have already positioned themselves quite clearly and signaled support for Merkel’s course. The Rhineland-Palatinate head of government Malu Dreyer (SPD) told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that “protecting the population is the top priority”.
Your government, with experts from health, business and education, is preparing scenarios for a gradual return to normal conditions. Prevention and protection of vulnerable groups played a major role in this. But it was also clear: “Possible easing can only go hand in hand with a major hygiene offensive. We all have to adjust to this: our everyday life will be determined by distance rules and high hygiene standards for a long time to come. “
“Don’t switch from zero to hundred”
Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) expressed concern in the paper that loosening too quickly could trigger a second wave of the pandemic and force new cuts. “A second shutdown would be economically and socially difficult to cope with,” said Kretschmann.
Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD), currently President of the Federal Council, said: “Only when the situation improves significantly and sustainably will we pull the drawer with the successive exit plans. One thing is certain: we will not switch from zero to a hundred. ”
The head of government of the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), had raised hope on Maundy Thursday that something could change after Easter. He advocated gradually returning public life to a “responsible normality” after Easter. Laschet said that the easing of the restrictions would be “cautious” and “not in one fell swoop” in the Düsseldorf Landtag: “But I am convinced that we should try this after Easter.”
Freedoms would arise – as much as possible, but “with new consideration, new responsibilities and at a distance.” On Friday, he said again, this time in an Easter message spread via Twitter. “We’re experiencing Easter days like we’ve never had before,” said Laschet. Being with family and friends and other cherished traditions could not take place this year.
“We protect and save lives with our behavior and by adhering to the ban on contact,” he said. This is the only way to contain the infections and gain time to flatten the curve. The way back to normal is determined by today’s behavior. “It is important to keep going, hold on, keep your distance and stick together.”
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU), who was initially pushed ahead in the pandemic with strict requirements for the citizens of the Free State, believes that the exit strategy in Germany does not necessarily have to be uniform. “We have to wait and see whether the numbers stabilize further,” he said in an interview with the German Press Agency (dpa).
[Wenn Sie alle aktuellen Entwicklungen zur Coronavirus-Krise live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere runderneuerte App, die Sie hier für Apple-Geräte herunterladen können und hier für Android-Geräte.]
Söder further said: “In fact, the situation differs from region to region – it is different in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg than in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania or Schleswig-Holstein. The infection rate there was significantly lower right from the start. In this respect, the common concept in Germany must do justice to the different situations. “
Söder nevertheless demanded that as much as possible be done together. “Unfortunately, individual countries are already leaving. But we should keep a line in Germany. At the moment we are getting through the crisis better than other countries. But impatience can lead to significant setbacks. The balance between freedom and security is key. Those who loosen too early and too much out of impatience risk their lives, ”said Söder.
In his Easter address, Söder said according to the previously widely used speech manuscript: “It will not be possible to continue as before after the Easter holidays.” As long as there is no vaccine or medication, caution should be exercised. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister was confident. “Our experts say: We are slowly getting Corona under control,” he emphasized, adding that more than 50,000 additional new infections could be prevented.
Calls for easing have recently been heard from the economy in particular. The shutdown is also widely understood in business. “However, companies need a clear orientation as soon as possible on how they can adapt their business activities to the higher standards of health protection in the future, beyond the specific deadline,” said Eric Schweitzer, President of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the “Saarbrücker Zeitung” .
Minister of Economics Altmaier warns of hasty steps
The President of the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, Christoph Schmidt, said in the “Rheinische Post”: “Now a phase of vigilant normalization should be started immediately.”
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier warned against hasty steps. “We see a first silver lining on the horizon, because the number of new infections is not increasing so much,” said the CDU politician of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. This is due to the great discipline of the citizens. “But if we loosen or lift the restrictions too soon, all of these victims may have been in vain.”
As one of the largest companies, the car group Volkswagen has already announced that it will present its plans to ramp up production in Germany in a few days after the standstill in the Corona crisis. “The planning for the restart is being worked out,” said the procurement director in the Volkswagen Group, Stefan Sommer, of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. “We will introduce her after Easter.” But everything depends heavily on the requirements of politics, “and when she plans to let public life run up again”.
However, Volkswagen itself “will soon come with a clear idea of when the plants will start up again and how the supply chains will start up again”. To do this, the supply chains would first have to be rebuilt, he said, “and at the same time the demand must be there again.”
For many parents, one of the most important questions regarding possible easing is likely to be when school starts again. This should also be an issue at the meeting on Wednesday. Opinions differed as to how to proceed there. In her press conference before Easter, Merkel said that she did not consider schools and kindergartens “the place where the simplest measure can now be used to ensure the distance that is still needed”.
There seems to be a consensus that school operations should only start up gradually. The president of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, pleads for the final grades to return first. In any case, there will be no full start of classes at the schools after the Easter holidays.
The municipalities also advocate a step-by-step plan agreed between the federal government and the federal states. The President of the City Council, Burkhard Jung, told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “We still have to be patient in the long term to keep the risk of infection with the corona virus low.”
[99 Fragen – und die Antworten – zum Virus Sars-CoV-2, der Krankheit Covid19, wie man sich schützen kann und vieles mehr]
A stage concept to be developed could perhaps be implemented in a regionally adapted manner because the situation in Bavaria is different from that in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. “But the basis should be a nationwide concept,” said the Mayor of Leipzig.
“People have to be able to understand what to expect,” said Jung: “Then they can estimate the conditions under which their children can go back to school or daycare. Then they can foresee that at a certain level they can go back to the hairdresser, the swimming pool or a restaurant. ”
“People are longing to be able to do more outside of their homes again,” said the SPD politician. Small businesses and the economy as a whole also need a glimmer of hope Life does not go on as before, “emphasized Jung.
Background to the corona virus:
The seriousness of the state’s leadership in the situation also shows that Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to give a television speech on Saturday evening about the current situation in the coronavirus pandemic. The federal presidents usually address the citizens with a Christmas speech once a year.
According to the pre-published speech manuscript, Steinmeier urged citizens to be patient, disciplined and solidarity at Easter. But he was also optimistic: “We can and we will also grow in this situation.” Steinmeier said that it was “good that the state is now acting forcefully – in a crisis for which there was no script.” At the same time, he appealed to the people of Germany: “I would like to ask you all to continue to trust, because the governing bodies in the federal and state governments are aware of their enormous responsibility.”
Majority satisfied with government crisis management
At least the Federal Government can still be sure of the support of the majority of the population for its course. In a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the dpa, 66 percent rated the operation of the black and red cabinet headed by Merkel as positive in the crisis. Two weeks ago it was 54 percent. The proportion of dissatisfied fell from 38 to 27 percent during this period.
Crisis management is therefore largely viewed positively across party preferences, with one exception: AfD voters are 52 percent dissatisfied and only 45 percent satisfied. But here too there is growing approval for the government course: two weeks ago, 68 percent of AfD voters were rather dissatisfied and only 27 percent were satisfied.
The Federal Government, on the other hand, is well aware of the danger that the mood could change. This is shown in a strategy paper by the Interior Ministry of Horst Seehofer (CSU) on “psychosocial and sociological effects” of the coronavirus crisis, which is available in the daily mirror. It says: “After Easter at the latest, it can be expected that an” isolation fatigue “occurs.
It had to be taken into account that “the current high approval rate for the measures is falling massively and the necessity, meaningfulness and legal admissibility of the measures is being questioned significantly”. The opportunities and needs for spending time outdoors given the warm weather could “additionally question the arrangement of where to stay in narrow apartments”.
In the paper, the ministry expressly speaks of the concern of a brutalization of society, growing aggressiveness, inaccuracy and a feared rise in suicides.