Stuttgart (dpa / lsw) – Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) is already hoping for a little “Silent Night” around the Christmas tree this year so that the risk of corona infections does not increase further at Christmas. And yet, like the other prime ministers of the federal states, he also knows about the sensitive relationship between Germans and Christmas. Despite all the other strict corona rules, the planned requirements for giving presents should therefore be relaxed. Not only in Baden-Württemberg, the Christmas holidays are being extended to protect against corona infections. In the south-west, this project also meets with incomprehension.
So far, the last day of school in Baden-Württemberg is December 22nd (Tuesday) on the calendar. If the students were to go on vacation on December 18th (Friday) as planned, they would have a distance of five to six days by Christmas Eve. These can be used to minimize contacts, said Kretschmann on Tuesday in Stuttgart. “You then have a whole incubation phase until Christmas.”
Education Minister Susanne Eisenmann (CDU) sees it differently and does not hide it. An extension could trigger organizational questions and pose problems for many parents, she told her ministry. The agency referred to the four movable holidays that a school has this school year. “In view of the comparatively low number of infections in our schools, we also consider it doubtful that an early start of the holiday will have a lasting effect on the infection rate,” it said.
The Association of Education and Upbringing (VBE) asked the government to use two additional days of vacation for the extension. This would be “a clear sign of appreciation for the extensive work that colleagues have done in the pandemic to date,” said VBE state chairman Gerhard Brand.
The chairman of the Baden-Württemberg State Parents’ Council, Michael Mittelstaedt, is more critical. It was unworldly to believe that the students would spend the extra free time in quarantine, he said in the SWR. Rather, he reckons that the days would be used to go on vacation or to visit relatives earlier.
There, the group of celebrants would be limited to ten people, which is also what the Prime Ministers have agreed on. For the period from December 23rd to January 1st, this upper limit would still be twice as high as should be allowed in the previous weeks. Christmas is the “festival of festivals for Germans,” said Kretschmann. Despite Corona, it is important “to keep the population in line”.
The SPD parliamentary group leader Andreas Stoch has little understanding for this relaxation of the requirements for the festival. “The virus does not take a Christmas vacation, which is why our caution cannot take a Christmas vacation,” he told the dpa. The social democrat said that the debate was “completely beyond reality”. Many people suffered financially and healthily from the pandemic. “It’s a mockery to pretend to all these people that the biggest problem is the number of their Christmas guests or the question of whether you can throw firecrackers on December 31st or not.”
On the other hand, CDU parliamentary group leader Wolfgang Reinhart appealed to reason. “Ultimately, sensible behavior also at Christmas depends on the personal responsibility of each individual, and we rely on this personal responsibility,” he said. According to FDP parliamentary group leader Hans-Ulrich Rülke, the number of people allowed in households is difficult to control on the holidays anyway, so the idea is more of an appeal. “After all, no one can seriously intend the police under the Christmas tree,” he said.
The federal and state governments want to clarify on Wednesday how the corona measures will continue. In addition to stricter contact restrictions from the beginning of December, an expansion of the mask requirement is also planned. The partial lockdown that has been in effect since the beginning of November with the closure of pubs and restaurants as well as cultural and leisure facilities is also to be extended in Baden-Württemberg until at least December 20.
Kretschmann was not completely convinced of the line of the countries. “I am skeptical whether the package will have the necessary effect overall,” he said. Among other things, he considers the period of the proposed easing from Christmas Eve to New Year to be too long. However, it was important for the federal states to pass resolutions as unanimously as possible. “You have to make compromises if you want to stick together 16,” said Kretschmann. But there are also compromises, such as the relaxation of the contact restrictions around the festival, which he “found it extremely difficult”.