Lockdown deliberations on Wednesday
How Berlin’s step-by-step plan influences the federal-state talks
03.03.21 | 6:30 a.m.
Incidence values, rapid tests, vaccination strategy: there is a lot to discuss at the federal-state meeting before a step-by-step plan for further easing can emerge at the end. Berlin provided the template – whether it will last is questionable, however. By Dorit Knieling
Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller goes to the meeting of the Prime Ministers with Chancellor Angela Merkel with an extensive step-by-step plan. The plan was voted on by the Senate last week and is to serve as the basis for the federal-state meeting. This should give a perspective for possible openings for culture, sport, gastronomy and retail, among other things. Although masks, distance and strict hygiene rules would be necessary for a long time, Müller told the rbb. “We have to remain level-headed and concerned with the high numbers of infections that we still have.”
Nevertheless, it is possible to relax with vaccinations and tests. Now Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has to explain when which tests can be expected, said Müller. “Otherwise you can’t even talk about further steps.” According to the SPD politician, he firmly expects that a basic framework will be agreed on Wednesday, on which the countries can orient themselves.
The goal of the Berlin Senate: uniformity
As chairman of the Prime Minister’s Conference, Müller must now try to bring together the often conflicting interests of the federal states and the federal government in the deliberations. At least the draft resolution for the federal-state meeting, which the rbb has received in advance, is almost identical to the Berlin step-by-step plan.
Berlin is striving for a nationwide regulation, it is said from Senate circles. Above all, the aim is to achieve traceability and planning security so that people can continue to understand the measures. Above all, the Greens want to create an opening perspective with corona tests.
Still different regulations – also between Berlin and Brandenburg
It remains to be seen whether the Berlin step-by-step plan will be adopted one-to-one by the federal and state governments. “It is certainly not easy to agree to this nationwide,” said Müller to the rbb. This is also due to the regionally different infection rates. Even before the meeting with Merkel, Saxony-Anhalt’s Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) campaigned for further easing. “We have tough measures, but these cannot be sustained forever if the acceptance of our corona policy is not to wane,” Haseloff told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
Berlin and Brandenburg had also taken different paths in the recent easing: DIY megastores with garden centers were already allowed to open in Brandenburg, but not in Berlin. Berlin’s step-by-step plan is not rigidly based on the incidence value of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. The R-value as well as the capacity of the intensive care beds, the change in incidence and the vaccination rate are also taken into account. With an incidence of 35, five people from two households will meet again in the future. If the incidence value remains stable for 14 days, meetings of a maximum of ten people from three households should be possible, and after a further two stable weeks meetings of ten people from different households should be possible.
Two weeks of stability means: loosening up
This two-week rhythm should also be applied to all other areas of society. Shops could first open with restricted access and limited customer numbers. Even restaurants should be able to open gradually first with an incidence of 35 – with only outdoor catering for a maximum of five people from three households in the beginning. Museums, theaters, galleries and concert halls should then also receive visitors again.
According to Berlin’s Governing Mayor Müller, the opening of hotels will also be discussed at the federal-state meeting. Overnight stays could be made possible for visitors who can present a negative corona test. How difficult the negotiations between the federal government and the federal states are, Berlin and Brandenburg have shown with the different regulations on DIY megastores with garden centers. Brandenburg’s Minister of Health Ursula Nonnemacher (Greens) had publicly regretted the different regulations for the two federal states: You are coordinating with Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but not with Berlin, said Nonnemacher. This repeatedly creates problems that cannot be avoided.
Left: worry that it will open too quickly and incidences did not matter
The Berlin Senate reacted with irritation to the openings in the neighboring country: They came as a surprise and had not been discussed, according to Senate circles. The Prime Minister’s draft resolution now says: In future, the neighboring countries should coordinate better.
According to their statements, however, the left fear that not much will be left of the Berlin model in the end. There is concern that opening will go too fast. and the incidences no longer mattered. If the left has its way, who, with Klaus Lederer, provide the Senator for Culture in Berlin, cultural institutions such as museums and theaters should primarily reopen with pilot projects. Above all, however, theaters and opera houses are not considered for openings until much later in the draft resolution.