Germany: Merkel and First Ministers to Discuss Additional Restrictions
Germany might be getting even stricter Corona rules. The decision will be taken today, but things are complicated.
Berlin, January 19th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — On the eve of today’s Corona conference that will involve Angela Merkel and the heads of government from Germany’s federal states, the participants were reportedly part of a hearing with several virologists. The experts explained the danger posed by new mutations of the Coronavirus and pleaded for a tightening of the Corona rules. The latter is the likely outcome of the Corona conference this afternoon.
End of the Road
But taking the right decisions is not easy, because rather strict rules are already in place. There are those who reject an additional burden for people. One of them is Michael Müller. So far, Berlin’s Governing Mayor was among those who always supported tightened restrictions, also because Berlin used to be a Corona hotspot.
Müller, who is also chairman of the Conference of First Ministers, told the TV channel Phoenix, there should not be more restrictions for private citizens. “We have demanded too much from people”, he said. A normal family life was hardly possible anymore. To many Germans, end of the road had been reached.
Public Transport in Focus
There are not too many ways additional or tighter restrictions can be applied. Retail businesses, cultural institutions and most schools are already closed. They cannot be closed more than they are. Restricting private contacts more would mean forbidding gatherings with anyone from a different household. This is the kind of step neither Müller nor anyone else wants.
Last week, restrictions in public transport, and even its shutdown, were discussed. Now things are moving the opposite way. Michael Müller stated, the frequency of buses, trams, ‘U-Bahn’ and ‘S-Bahn’ trains needed to be increased, in order to make sure public transport vehicles would be less crowded.
Prolongation is Foregone Conclusion
A prolongation of the lockdown is the easiest decision the Chancellor and the First Ministers will most likely take today. According to a poll mentioned by several German-language media, a majority of Germans is in favor of such a step. Forty percent of respondents even want the Corona rules to be tightened. So far, the lockdown is supposed to last until January 31st, 2021. It might be prolonged until February 15th today.
Apart from public transport, applying more pressure on employers is part of the discussion, which has already begun behind the scenes. Less people are supposed to meet at offices, more companies need to let their staff members work from home. The question is whether Angela Merkel and her colleagues from the federal states will force employers to play ball, or just ask them nicely. But the latter already happened.
The Bavarian Example
In Bavaria, wearing European standard FFP2 masks is already mandatory in shops and in public transport, because they protect people from infections a lot better than scarfs or pieces of cloth converted into nice-looking masks. This kind of step is a possibility for the entire country. The problem is that those masks were made to be used only once, and they are expensive, meaning not everyone can afford them.
The Corona conference is scheduled to commence at 2 p.m. CET.