Not only the researchers at the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences, but also many politicians are calling for schools to open soon. However, there are different opinions about who should go back to school, how exactly this could happen and at what time.
The Leopoldina scientists recommend that classes are initially made possible for primary schools and lower secondary education. However, they do not name a specific point in time. They also call for the group size to be limited to 15 students. However, this should become a problem in many schools if only because of the spatial conditions.
The Robert Koch Institute, on the other hand, is skeptical about opening up, especially for younger people. It makes more sense to look at the older ones first, since they would rather follow the distance rules, said RKI boss Lothar Wieler. Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier was also critical of primary schools. He could not imagine that Hessen would reopen it quickly. The opinion of the Leopoldina does not convince him in all areas.
The President of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, calls for an early return, especially for students from difficult backgrounds. It is about children with poor knowledge of German who would be left behind by the school closings. Therefore, the school had to be reopened quickly for them. In addition, additional offers would have to be created for this group if regular classes started again. To catch up, offers are conceivable during the holidays.
The Greens, which are involved in numerous state governments, on the other hand, want to send final classes “back to school first”. Grades one through six should also be a priority because the care of younger students is particularly important.
“Day care centers should be opened step by step,” wrote party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck – first for children with at least one parent in so-called systemically relevant professions, then for others, especially in places with low infection rates. For both schoolchildren and daycare children, the two suggest dividing groups in order to make them smaller.
The deputy head of the FDP, Wolfgang Kubicki, suggested something similar: he is thinking about morning and afternoon operations in schools. In this way, the number of students present at the same time could be reduced and “so-called pack formation” prevented.
The Leopoldina, on the other hand, had recommended that daycare should be left in emergency mode until the summer holidays.
According to Leopoldina, if the infection numbers stabilize and the general prevention rules continue to be observed, retail and hospitality can reopen. The Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE) also calls for a quick opening. “The retail trade must be allowed to reopen nationwide as soon as this is politically justifiable,” said managing director Stefan Genth. In addition, the association wants to ensure that shops are open on Sundays “for 2020 without restrictions and restrictions”.
SPD co-chair Norbert Walter-Borjans also wants to gradually ease the requirements for shops and cafes. “We all have an interest in restoring the supply of goods and services as soon as possible. I prefer a household goods or furniture store that I can only enter with respiratory protection than closed shops.”
FDP Vice Kubicki plans to largely reopen shops and restaurants on April 20. “I would have all shops that are currently closed reopened if the distance rules there are observed,” said Kubicki of the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. This could be done, for example, by admission control. From Kubicki’s perspective, restaurants should also be allowed to reopen – “with the appropriate distance between the tables”.
In the course of the easing demands for a far-reaching mask requirement become louder. The Leopoldina speaks in favor of a mouthguard obligation in public transport. “Mouthguards must be worn whenever the two-meter distance requirement cannot be met,” said Gerald Haug, President of the Leopoldina daily topics.
Minister of Education Anja Karliczek said similarly: “All precautionary measures such as distance and hygiene requirements must continue to be strictly adhered to – and mouth-nose protection must also be worn in public spaces,” Karliczek told the “Passauer Neue Presse”. And the chairman of the Association of Cities and Municipalities, Gerd Landsberg, also spoke out in favor of a protective mask requirement in shops, authorities and local public transport as soon as sufficient masks are available.
However, Landsberg campaigned for regional peculiarities in the easing. The situation in the federal states and regions is very different, one has to take this into account. Federalism had proven itself in the crisis. He stands against almost all federal and state politicians who call for a unified approach. For example, CDU chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warned that a patchwork should be avoided at the Corona exit. There was nothing else to convey to the citizens.
Politicians and experts are critical of concerts and soccer games. “At the moment I can’t imagine a major event where people are close to one another,” said Thuringia’s head of government, Bodo Ramelow. In football, Leopoldina President Haug anticipates playing ghost games over a significantly longer period. It would “certainly take many months” before games could again be played in front of tens of thousands of spectators.
Political assemblies are also affected. CDU boss Kramp-Karrenbauer no longer expects a special party conference – at which hundreds of party members would have to gather – to elect her successor before the regular delegates’ meeting in early December. “My impression is that the further we get behind the summer break with a possible special party congress, the less there is a need for a party congress that only takes place a few weeks before the regular one.”
It could be different with larger events that are more important for the functioning of democracy than concerts or sporting events. This is how the first calls for an end to the ban on demonstration are being made. “This is an existential fundamental right of democracy,” said publicist Carolin Emcke.
In Denmark crèches, kindergartens and schools for children up to fifth grade are already open again. Restaurants, cafés, pubs, theaters and other leisure facilities will remain closed for the time being. Meetings with more than ten people are still prohibited, major events are prohibited until the end of August.
Austria allows small shops as well as DIY and garden centers to reopen under strict conditions. From May 1, all shops, shopping centers and hairdressers are to follow. A schedule for the opening of hotels and restaurants is planned for the end of April, the aim is to restart operations from mid-May. Both in retail and in local public transport, the obligation to wear mouth-nose protection applies. In addition, the safety distance of at least one meter is mandatory everywhere.
Also Norway, Lithuania or Spain have partially reactivated public life or plan to do so soon. France and Italy on the other hand, the existing exit restrictions extended until May.