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.
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.
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.
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.
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.