Obligation to work from home, curfews, flight bans – a lot is discussed in the run-up to the federal-state meeting. In view of virus mutations and another 18,000 new infections, there is hardly any doubt about one thing: there will be tightening.
Politicians are discussing a further tightening of the corona restrictions across factions. Head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, even thinks that it will be necessary to “make an effort” until the summer during the Corona crisis. The number of infections would have to be reduced, and the next three to four months in particular would be difficult, said Braun at the digital CDU party congress last night.
18,678 new corona infections
Because despite tough corona restrictions, the number of infections is still at a high level. Within one day, more than 18,000 people were infected with the corona virus. The health authorities reported 18,678 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within 24 hours, as the RKI announced.
This increased the number of cases registered since the beginning of the pandemic to 2,019,636. The seven-day incidence – the number of new infections reported to the health authorities within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants – is 139.2. In addition, 980 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours.
“Hopefully better weather from Easter”
In view of these numbers, Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) spoke of three difficult months and told the news portal “t-Online”: “Hopefully the better weather and additional vaccines will help us from Easter.”
Because of the tense situation, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers are bringing their deliberations, originally planned for January 25, forward to next Tuesday by almost a week.
Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU) calls for a comprehensive expansion of the measures. “Better to do it right now – instead of an endless loop into the summer,” he told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. “We are particularly concerned about the high infection rate of the new mutation.” The variant from Great Britain is considered to be far more contagious than the previously known. Researchers fear that they could become the predominant type and that the number of infections will rise rapidly again.
From home office to curfew
“More vaccination alone does not prevent another lockdown. This shows the situation in Great Britain and Israel,” said Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) of the “Rheinische Post”. This is all the more true in view of the delivery problems with the vaccine from BioNTech / Pfizer, which both manufacturers recently justified with factory conversions to increase production.
Brinkhaus and Hans spoke out in favor of considering night-time exit restrictions in the federal / state consultation. “Everything has to be put on the table,” said Brinkhaus im WDR. Hans explained: “This applies to the subject of curfew, but also to the discussion about working in the home office.” The vice-chief of the SPD parliamentary group, Bärbel Bas, suggested in the “editorial network Germany” a home office obligation. However, that would also have to be enforced.
“If companies become sources of infection and social costs arise as a result, although this could be avoided by more home office in the company, then fines are also required for companies,” said the chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, of the “Saarbrücker Zeitung”.
FFP2 masks and restriction of air traffic
The mandatory special protective FFP2 masks are also being discussed. Such measures alone are not enough for the SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach. “Either this form of lockdown continues for at least six to eight weeks, with 500 to 1000 deaths a day and a high risk that the mutation will spread further,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. Or an alternative is needed – which he advocates: “a really hard lockdown, but it would not last that long. The n the shops and non-vital businesses and schools would be closed, the contact restrictions would be tightened again significantly.”
The left faction also calls for restrictions on air traffic. “Outside of freight traffic, there is currently only extremely limited space for entry into Germany,” said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
“Don’t drift into activism”
However, there are also warnings, for example from the expert group of the Leopoldina Academy, which advises the Chancellery: “An extension of the current lockdown is probably inevitable. But politicians must be careful not to drift into activism,” said the chairman of the Council of Economic Experts , Lars Feld, the “Rheinische Post”. “A tightening of the lockdown beyond its extension must not become a problem for the supply situation of the population. This must be seen against the background of highly differentiated supply chains.”
The industry association for the hotel and restaurant industry (Dehoga) alone assumes that the innkeepers will lose around 80 percent of their planned sales as a result of the corona-related closings in January. “We are assuming that 70,000 companies will not survive the crisis,” said Ingrid Hartges, general manager of the “Rheinische Post”. Even the healthiest companies could not survive weeks of lost sales. “Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake,” said Hartges.
Despite all the difficulties, Chancellor Merkel is cautiously optimistic. At the CDU party congress, she recalled challenges such as the global financial and economic crisis, the EU debt crisis and migration. Germany has always been able to find new strength, she said. That will also be the case after the pandemic.