Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Chancellery: No easing before April 20 – politics

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The Chancellor’s Office has rejected all hopes that the harsh restrictions on public life imposed by the corona virus will soon be eased.

Chancellery Minister Helge Braun said to the Berliner Daily mirror, there will be no changes until the end of the Easter holidays. Braun said: “We are not talking about any relief until April 20th. Until then, all measures will remain in place.”

Braun is also burying his own considerations, which he had publicly launched in recent days in view of growing concerns, especially in the economy. Obviously, however, the Chancellor is now anxious not to raise expectations that may need to be corrected in view of the still growing number of infections.

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The background to the clear message for the weekend should also be that there were quite different messages in Angela Merkel’s cabinet and in the grand coalition. Health Minister Spahn had spoken without further clarification about the need to also talk about exit scenarios. That prompted Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to come on the scene, who used drastic words to warn of any hasty move. “Not with me,” Seehofer had said.

The Chancellor herself spoke up on Saturday with an audio message from her quarantine: “I have to ask you to be patient.” There is still no reason to relax the rules.

Braun’s clear announcement is also remarkable because the Chancellery cannot make this decision alone. Many regulations have to be adopted by the state governments. And there are also quite different positions there. While the Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) repeatedly stated that the drastic restrictions on the population and the economy should not last forever, the prime ministers from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have so far made a very strong plea for the measures to be maintained.

The basis for possible loosening is the infection rate

The fact that Braun will practically exclude all easing by April 20 should have something to do with the end of the Easter vacation. For all students in Germany, this date is already a key date. Until then, all schools will be closed anyway. Braun, of course, now went further for certain groups of people. By doing Daily mirror-Interview, he said, risk groups should already expect significantly longer restrictions. “One thing is common to all models, no matter how we decide: that the older and pre-ill people in our society must be effectively protected against infection until there is a vaccine.”

Braun cited the speed of infection as the basis for possible easing – and thus repeated the criterion that the Chancellor herself had mentioned on Thursday evening after a video connection with the heads of government of the other EU partners. Braun said: “If we can slow the rate of infection so that we have ten, twelve or more days to double, we know we’re on the right track.” So far, the numbers have doubled approximately every four to five days.

Braun expressly praised the population, who for the most part adheres to the rules in an exemplary manner. Therefore, he is also confident that “we will see their success in a few days.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the conference of interior ministers, Georg Maier (SPD), called for an exit scenario. “We have to keep the contact restrictions and school closings consistently until we see in a week or two how effective the measures are,” said the Thuringian Interior Minister of the newspaper The world. At the same time, however, one has to think about what an exit strategy could look like. “If the contact restrictions are maintained for more than four weeks, we will reach a limit.” The psychological burden on the population would then be too great and acceptance would decline. Countries like South Korea and Sweden have opted for “mass testing and isolation of the sick”. “We have to consider that as an exit scenario.”

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