How can you get rid of politics

Extension of several weeks planned : Merkel's lockdown problems are growing

Christian Lindner has invited to the Reichstag at short notice, he wants to get rid of something. "Parliament has to decide on extensive restrictions on freedom," emphasized the FDP leader. If there is a new risk from the mutated virus variant B.1.1.7. then that must be presented in Parliament. He calls for a special session of the Bundestag before the federal-state meeting on Tuesday. But that will pass, the Chancellery has long been working on the proposed resolution for further restrictions.

The communicative problem for Chancellor Angela Merkel: The number of infections is falling significantly - the renewed aggravation is primarily justified by concerns about the B.1.1.7 . The government's goal is to finally break the infection dynamics, but at the same time criticism is growing and the toolbox has its pitfalls.

In addition, there are dramatic concerns about a wave of bankruptcies in retail and the problems with the disbursement of the aid - here, too, should be improved again.

What is planned now

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is expecting two more weeks and a possible tightening - by February 14, one should see much more clearly what the spread of mutated viruses and their influence on the number of infections is. Nocturnal curfews are no longer a taboo, government circles say. Following the example of Bavaria, curfews from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. are discussed. Then, however, there could be more citizens in supermarkets during the day and the risk of infection there could increase. Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) considers such a restriction of basic rights only necessary for hot spots with over 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. "In all of Lower Saxony we are now at an incidence of just under 100. That is why I currently do not consider nationwide night curfews to be justified," he told the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung". Local public transport is also seen as a major risk of contagion - Chancellor Merkel wants to reduce the number of occupied spaces on buses and trains - but that would have to be controlled somehow.

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Even now there is no lack of rules, but rather compliance and control. In Berlin, for example, subway rides without a mask, crowds of people in front of kiosks and private parties show this. FDP boss Lindner therefore requires a concrete database of how which measures have worked so far before making further decisions.

But there is little reliable data on public transport, for example. What is becoming apparent: Christmas and New Year's Eve could not have caused the much-feared rash. RKI boss Lothar Wieler will present the latest figures to the Chancellor and Prime Minister this Monday, together with the virologist Christian Drosten, among others, also on the B.1.1.7. Distribution.

A discussed goal for public transport is to reduce the load factor to a third. In many regions, coach operators whose operations are suspended due to Corona are now to be encouraged to help out on regular services in order to be able to transport fewer people per bus. In addition, the railway is looking into using more trains, and in the big cities, despite fewer passengers, the offer is to be expanded or converted so that the equalization works. A cessation of traffic is not planned.

In addition, it is being discussed to enforce a nationwide FFP2 mask requirement for public transport and shops, but special rules would then have to be considered, especially for Hartz IV recipients, since the masks are not cheap - the monthly standard rate only includes 2.63 for medical products . There is a broad consensus not to shut down businesses and industry, the SPD in particular insists on this. One of the home office obligations for office jobs demanded by many would be complicated, because a legal regulation cannot be created overnight, so an immediately implementable ordinance is being examined. With more people at home, be it through curfews and / or more home offices, the number of passengers in public transport will automatically decrease.

A look at the numbers: A week ago the number of new infections was 162 per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, at the weekend according to the RKI it was 136. The still high nationwide case numbers "are due to mostly diffuse events with numerous accumulations, especially in households, in the professional environment and in old people's and nursing homes, ”emphasizes the Robert Koch Institute in the current management report.

The number of Covid-19 patients treated in intensive care units has now fallen back to less than 5,000. The tightening of the lockdown before Christmas could start to work now. The virus mutation makes the situation unsafe: In London, the numbers have risen to over 1,000 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. Data show that it first spread among children and then moved on to the older age groups - which speaks in favor of stricter daycare and school closings. These could therefore continue to exist in Germany or be standardized or tightened.

The B.1.1.7 problem

How widespread the mutation is in Germany is largely unclear because too few samples are genetically examined in detail in the manner necessary for this. The Berlin mobility researcher - and now also coronavirus spread expert - Kai Nagel deduces from his latest modeling that the mutant will become the dominant form in Germany in the foreseeable future under the current conditions.

This would also mean that experience as to which measures should be sufficient to contain infections and diseases would, at least in part, be obsolete. A high number of unreported cases of previous infections would even be helpful here, since the corresponding people are "probably also immune to the mutation," said Nagel to the Tagesspiegel.

There is also the possibility that - also due to the lack of detailed genetic monitoring - other mutants have already spread. However, they could also include those that trigger fewer symptoms on average. In infected people, this could lead to even fewer tests and then again to a higher number of unreported cases.

Ideally, however, it could also mean that a variant spreads and also contributes to immunity against other variants, which are significantly less problematic overall. Even the mutant identified for the first time in South Africa, which may have properties that make vaccines less effective, could lead to changes in strategy in the medium term and to the need to adapt the vaccine to them and similar variants to be expected.

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RKI boss Wieler is still assuming a high number of unreported cases, recently there was often talk of four to five times the officially registered number of cases. At present, only the numbers of deceased and inpatients treated in hospital provide real orientation. Due to a lack of capacity to track contacts, there is hardly any data on where they were infected, even for those infected who are identified by test.

Local public transport and private contacts are currently still considered problematic where schools are largely closed. Family quarantines, which end with the recovery of the sick family member, are also considered by experts to be a problem. Because family members who get infected from him should actually remain isolated for much longer - which usually does not happen.

It is considered plausible to change mask requirements for indoor areas and public transport to FFP-2 masks instead of everyday masks.

74 billion paid out

At the same time, the Ministry of Economics and Finance is fighting for billions in aid; so far, 74 billion euros have been paid out since March - and there will be many more. While Friedrich Merz, after his failure in the CDU chairmanship election, demanded that the new CDU boss Armin Laschet and Merkel be allowed to replace his party friend Peter Altmaier, extra shifts are being pushed around the clock in his ministry.

There is still a problem with the disbursement of economic aid, and there are also bureaucratic hurdles: The EU Commission, which has to approve aid of more than one million euros, is slowing down too much from the perspective of the Federal Government. In addition, several fireworks companies are facing bankruptcy after the firecracker sales ban.

For the retail sector, work is being carried out on further assistance and reducing the bureaucracy of the applications for Bridging Aid III. Since a lot of seasonal goods have to be written off and clothing companies are left sitting on their goods, a so-called partial depreciation is being discussed - costs: another one to three billion euros. “Olaf Scholz is blocking that,” Altmaier's house was criticized for. In the Ministry of Finance, they say they are working on a legally secure solution.

The biggest political problem in this highly complex situation: Against the spread of the viruses, and also their mutated variants, as well as limiting the economic damage, solutions that are as unbureaucratic as possible can help the fastest and therefore best. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is stunned that, for example, the Bundesdruckerei has been commissioned to print forgery-proof coupons so that they can be sent by post via the health insurances to people over 60 who, on presentation of them in the pharmacies after paying a small nominal fee, then ultimately receive twelve FFP2 Get masks.

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