Corona crisis: hard lockdown after Christmas – or earlier?

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Less than a week after their last summit, Angela Merkel and the prime ministers have to state that it is simply not enough. Last Wednesday, the Chancellor and the country leaders extended the partial lockdown until January 10th. In the meantime, however, it is becoming clearer with each passing day that the »breakwater« strategy has failed. The exponential increase in the number of infections was stopped, but since then the values ​​have remained at a high level or even rise again. In some places the health system is already reaching its limits.
Nationwide, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the critical incidence value is currently 147 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. At the beginning of November, at the beginning of the shutdown, there were still around 120.

And so the members of the National Science Academy Leopoldina saw themselves led to an extraordinary appeal on Tuesday: They urgently advise politicians to “reduce the excessive number of new infections quickly and drastically through a hard lockdown”. First of all, the proposal envisages a short-term abolition of compulsory schooling from mid-December and an “emphatic” invitation to work in the home office. On Christmas Eve, politicians should then unpack the hammer:

  • Closure of retail stores except for daily needs,

  • no vacation trips and larger gatherings,

  • reduce social contacts to a minimum.

All of this until at least January 10th and nationwide if possible.

For the Chancellor, the Leopoldina’s appeal comes at just the right time. She sounded the alarm in the Union faction on Monday: “We will not be able to get through the winter without additional measures.” As so often in the corona crisis, Merkel is concentrating on the bare infection numbers. They tell her: It can’t go on like this. Merkel made it clear that she wanted to discuss stricter measures with the countries before Christmas. The next meeting is actually not planned for January 4th.

Merkel wants tougher measures

It is reasonable to assume that Merkel thinks similarly to the Leopoldina, whom she admires. The “Bild” newspaper reported that the Chancellery wanted a “hard lockdown” from December 27th into the new year. “The closure of as many shops as possible” is under discussion. As with the first lockdown in spring, supermarkets should remain open. The news agency Reuters reported, citing unspecified federal-state circles, that a closure of the retail trade between the holidays was being discussed.

Strictly speaking, two discussions run in parallel:

  • How do the federal states implement the decision made at the end of November to relax contact restrictions at Christmas and New Year’s Eve?

  • What other measures should apply after Christmas and into the New Year?

The dilemma of politics: it has promised the citizens a Christmas party with their families, it should be a ray of hope in times of restrictions. But the epidemiological situation does not actually permit any easing, especially not during the traditionally travel-intensive Christmas season.

This logical contradiction was also felt when Prime Minister Markus Söder announced further tightening including exit restrictions for Bavaria on Sunday in view of the high number of infections – with the exception of Christmas. Söder then defended this as a “balance of empathy and rationality”.

Emergency brake in Saxony

Saxony reacted even harder on Tuesday to the lack of success of the currently applicable measures. From next week schools, kindergartens, after-school care centers and retail shops in the country are to be closed, only essential supplies will remain open. Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) said the state government wanted to “calm down” Saxony.

This is the only way to stop the infection process. “The situation in the hospitals is not only tense, it is extremely dangerous,” said Kretschmer. In some places there are no longer any intensive care beds. But although the situation is more difficult than in the spring, people are nowhere near as serious about the situation. That is also why politicians have to react. The hard lockdown in Saxony should apply until January 10th.

The government in Dresden has little choice: The numbers in the Free State are skyrocketing, the districts of Bautzen and Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains recorded incidence values ​​of over 500, according to the RKI. The national average was 319 Target of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. Now it’s all about damage control.

In Baden-Württemberg, whose incidence value is slightly above the national average, Green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann apparently agreed his government to more drastic restrictions. You could not go on like this, “a sharp lockdown after the Christmas days is approaching,” said the Green politician at a cabinet meeting, as reported by the dpa news agency, citing government circles.

And Thuringia’s Health Minister Heike Werner said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the state government did not want to loosen the current corona restrictions over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The federal and state governments had actually agreed to allow ten people plus children to attend family reunions from December 23 to January 1 at the latest. Otherwise a maximum of five people from two households are allowed to meet.

Several SPD Prime Ministers see no reason for talks

While some federal states give in on their own initiative, others see no reason for drastic steps – let alone for consultations with the Chancellor before Christmas. Because this “would inevitably be associated with the expectation of further serious tightening, such as a closure of the retail trade and exit restrictions,” said Bremen’s Prime Minister Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) on Monday. But there is “no reason” for that. According to the RKI, the incidence value in Bremen is 114.

The Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) emphasized that he currently has every opportunity to make Corona decisions himself. Woidke said cautiously about a possible lockdown after Christmas: “We should talk to each other first and then evaluate it. A closed retail trade would have many consequences. ”He criticized a“ fair ”of proposals“ before they were discussed ”.

But there will probably be another prime ministerial conference this week, possibly on Thursday. However, Chancellor Merkel is expected on the day of the EU summit in Brussels.

The chairman of the Prime Minister’s Conference, Michael Müller (SPD), also described such a meeting as “actually not urgently needed.” But he didn’t want to rule out consultations with Merkel.

Perhaps the Leopoldina’s position will bring new dynamism to the widely divergent positions. “A uniform approach makes the measures transparent, understandable and plannable for citizens and companies,” argue the scientists – and mean the exact opposite of what is currently going on.

Prime Minister Söder was one of the first to respond to the proposals on Tuesday, as is so often the case. Regarding a possible closure of the retail trade, he said: If the Prime Minister’s Conference takes a corresponding decision, Bavaria will participate.
Icon: The mirror



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https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/corona-krise-harter-lockdown-nach-weihnachten-oder-schon-frueher-a-7e8085e9-62f1-4147-831a-82322d84657f

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