Coronavirus

To save Christmas? The first details of the countries’ corona strategy are clear

Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller (left) is developing a long-term strategy for the federal states.

picture alliance / AP Images

So far, the procedure of the federal government and the prime ministers of the states in the Corona crisis has been a back and forth. Public life is restricted, relaxed, now restricted again. A zigzag course, some on a weekly basis.

Proponents say you have to react flexibly to the outbreak. Others see it as a confusion. They demand a long-term strategy that will help you get through the winter.

Under the chairmanship of Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD), the states now want to present an overall concept by the next Corona summit of the federal and state governments on Wednesday, with which Germany will get through the Christmas holidays and the turn of the year. NewsABC.net already knows the first details.

Extension of holidays, change of hotspot strategy

Lockdown: Both the SPD-led federal states and the CDU-governed therefore agree that the current lockdown light should be extended until December 20. A gradual opening from December 13th was originally planned, but the number of infections does not indicate that.

Contact restrictions: In the key issues paper of the SPD countries, an expansion of the mouth and nose coverage and a renewed tightening of the contact restrictions are planned. However, no details are given for either.

In particular, a tightening of the contact restrictions caused major discussions after a federal-state meeting last week. So far, a maximum of ten people from a maximum of two households are allowed to meet in public. Last week, the federal and state governments decided that in future they should only meet with one other permanent household. Critics complained that such a requirement – even if it was not legally binding at all – could not be expected of children and young people in particular.

According to information from NewsABC.net, the SPD states as well as Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse reject this 1-household rule. It is under discussion that the currently generous upper limits for celebrations in private and public spaces will be significantly reduced.

Schools: The halving of school classes proposed by the Chancellery last week is apparently off the table. It is said that there was simply a lack of rooms and teachers. On the other hand, face-to-face teaching for high school and vocational school students is to be further reduced.

Should the number of infections rise over Christmas, the SPD states, North Rhine-Westphalia and some other CDU-led states want to achieve a nationwide uniform extension of the Christmas holidays. According to current planning, these should not end until January 10, it is said.

Change of hotspot strategy: The SPD countries apparently want to make the current hotspot strategy even more flexible. Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have already fallen below the target of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days.

Accordingly, it is currently being discussed whether containment measures will no longer be concentrated on districts, but on regions, i.e. possibly several districts. The reason for this is that the important number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days (“incidence”) differs greatly depending on the district. Again and again it has recently been criticized that where the incidence is below 50, a lockdown is disproportionate.

Possible solution now: A change in the definition of what a hotspot is. In future, this could include a region. If the incidence there is above the national average, for example, tougher measures are required.

Demonstrations: In some countries there appears to be a desire to further lower the upper limits for demonstrations. But the Greens and Leftists reject that. It is possible that the requirements will be tightened further here.

Christmas service: The federal states do not want to impose any restrictions on this, but rather talk to the religious communities about the extent to which large Christmas services are to be avoided.

On Friday there should be resolution recommendations from the CDU-led federal states and the SPD states, which should be merged into a joint paper over the weekend. This should be finalized on Monday. The federal states will enter into negotiations with the Federal Chancellery on Tuesday with their position so that there should be as much agreement as possible on the resolutions before the Prime Minister’s meeting on Wednesday.

The procedure this time differs significantly from the meeting last week. At that time, the Federal Chancellery took the federal states by surprise with an uncoordinated proposal.

If you ask around in the state chancelleries of the federal states on Friday, they would like more predictability for the citizens. From Rhineland-Palatinate it is said that “if-then rules” should be introduced. This means: If the number of infections is below a certain value, certain restrictions can be relaxed again. Museums, restaurants and pubs could reopen from a certain infection level. That would mean transparency and a little predictability. But if the numbers rise or solidify, additional measures can be discussed. The changed hotspot strategy could then also take effect here, where measures can even be relaxed for entire regions.

From Schleswig-Holstein it is said that a “common tool kit should be developed that everyone can use depending on the situation”. The State Chancellery refers to districts in the federal state in which the 7-day incidence is below 20, while the value for all of Bavaria is over 160.

Contradicting signals from the Chancellery

Meanwhile, contradicting signals are coming from the Chancellery. People around Chancellery Minister Helge Braun (CDU) are skeptical about a longer-term strategy. The goal of the federal states is “honorable”, people mocked. Instead, the Chancellery wants legroom so that it can “react dynamically to the situation”. The pandemic has shown that you can hardly plan. Developments such as the outbreaks in meat processing companies or the many infections caused by returning travelers could not be foreseen after all.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) apparently sees it differently in the meantime. She advocates a longer-term strategy, reports “Bild” and refers to participants in the Union group meeting this week.

The Chancellor expects the federal states for the upcoming summit on Wednesday that “proposals will be made”. And that “not just for two weeks, but with a perspective until January”. It is quite possible that she has realized that “driving on sight” and reacting at short notice is no longer enforceable.

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