Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to enable normalization of the German economy from coronavirus rigidity step by step. “A condition for returning to work is that you can safely organize the factory or business for employees and customers,” he told Handelsblatt. “Companies or industries that can demonstrate that they comply with hygiene or distance rules could find it easier to get back into everyday life.” The minister therefore wanted to seek “dialogue with all areas of the economy”.
It is also clear: “Wherever people get close to each other privately – at major events such as soccer games or in clubs – it will take a long time before normality returns,” said Spahn. At the same time, the CDU politician pointed out that many industrial companies did not stop their production because of the state’s decree, but because of delivery difficulties and collapsing sales markets. “The international markets will probably remain disturbed for longer, even if our economic life gradually normalizes again.”
For Germany, leading economic researchers expect economic output to shrink by 4.2 percent in 2020, and unemployment to rise to 5.9 percent. For 2021, however, the institutes predict a growth of 5.8 percent in the German gross domestic product (GDP).
How long the day-to-day restrictions in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus will continue to be necessary depends on the behavior of the citizens, according to the minister. “With appropriate caution, more normalcy will soon be possible again,” said Spahn. “But we will probably do without parties of all kinds longer.” Top economists had also recently spoken out in favor of the gradual ramp-up process.
State Secretary urges caution
Spahn believes that the first steps after the Easter holidays are possible. “We see a positive trend. But it has to steady,” he told the “Handelsblatt” about the current infection numbers. A prerequisite for the easing, however, is that the population also adheres to everyday restrictions over the holidays.
If the trend in infection numbers continues, “we will be able to talk to the Prime Minister about a gradual return to normality after the Easter holidays.” In a free constitutional state, far-reaching restrictions on fundamental rights “only work as long as they are understood and accepted”. Therefore, it is not only important to justify the action well, but also “to show a perspective”.
State Secretary Stephan Mayer warned caution. The public debate about a return to normality is understandable, the CSU politician told the “Handelsblatt”. “But we should be cautious in the political arena, we mustn’t create false expectations.” Mayer demands: “We should definitely wait for the Easter holidays and then decide in the light of our experiences.”