Sunday 22nd November 2020
The partial lockdown should initially only apply to November, but it looks like it won’t last. But what’s next in December? In addition to CSU boss Söder, SPD chancellor candidate Scholz is in favor of continuing as in recent weeks.
It’s a busy weekend for the state chancellery heads of the federal states: They join forces in different groups several times to discuss how to proceed with the corona pandemic. On Monday, their bosses want to lash down the submission of the federal states for the consultations on Wednesday with Chancellor Angela Merkel. And one thing has been emerging for days: an extension of the partial lockdown is highly likely.
Federal and state politicians see no other way, Christian Democrats as well as Social Democrats. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz told “Bild am Sonntag”: “Everything indicates that the current restrictions will have to be continued for a while beyond November 30th.” Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder told the newspaper: “In order to be able to spend a nice Christmas, we have to extend the lockdown and certainly also deepen it.” The CSU boss added: “At least until we have reached the incidence value of 50 again.”
This means 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. This value was already mentioned as a target when the tightened restrictions were issued at the beginning of November, because then it is assumed that the health system will not be permanently overloaded. The value is currently around 140. Söder said: “If we break the lockdown at this high level of infection numbers and lose patience, then everything will start all over again and we will 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 Union states are therefore pressing for an extension of the Corona restrictions until at least Christmas, as “Bild” reported 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 should actually expire at the end of November. How long they should last beyond that seems to have not yet been determined for sure. “In any case two or better three weeks,” says Söder. Three weeks – that would be until just before Christmas. The business magazine “Business Insider” has named the date December 20, citing country groups. But Söder connects his announcement with the memory of the incidence value 50 as a target – that also leaves something open.
For Christmas: According to “Bild”, the union countries agree that contact restrictions should be relaxed at least over the Christmas holidays so that people without family can celebrate the festival with friends. The SPD-ruled countries also want easing for the festive season, as “Bild am Sonntag” reports on. The Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer told the newspaper: “At Christmas and New Year’s Eve people should be able to meet their loved ones.” Previously, the head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, had said to the editorial network in Germany: “I cannot imagine that my grandparents would not join in the Christmas celebrations.”
For New Years Eve: Söder says that Christmas should be “freer” and that “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.”
For schools: The education ministers of the federal states insist on keeping them open in principle, but plead for exceptions, according to information from the news portal “ThePioneer” and the German Press Agency. According to a decision taken on Friday, schools particularly affected from the 11th grade in hotspot areas with a large number of infections should be able to switch to “rolling face-to-face teaching” in smaller study groups, 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.
The previous attitude of the federal states that schools are generally not a driver of the pandemic is “no longer tenable”, says 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 could pass it on. Children from twelve are “just as contagious as adults”: “Therefore, school children definitely play a role.” According to the will of the ministers of education, more tests are to be carried out at schools that are particularly affected by corona. After a vaccine has been approved, the school staff should receive a vaccination offer according to their request.
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”). According to the status of Saturday evening, only Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and around two dozen districts could benefit from this.
For the trading: The Union countries want to keep retail and wholesale open. According to the report, however, they are extremely skeptical about the open Advent Sundays.
For companies: Federal Finance Minister Olaf 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 the Vice Chancellor and SPD candidate for Chancellor of “Bild am Sonntag”.