Lothar Wieler, the president of the Robert Koch Institute, has spoken out in favor of testing people for an infection with Sars-CoV-2 who have no symptoms but who work in care facilities, for example. Last week there were 860,000 tests available in Germany, more than ever before. However, only 467,000 of these were used. About 25,000 of these tests were positive, and some people were tested several times.
Wieler said that increasing test capacities could increase the official number of positive cases in the future. It is therefore not always the absolute cases that alone are decisive for the evaluation of the development, but the quota. “It is our task to convey and assess this.” Wieler appealed to the population to continue to abide by the contact restrictions: “Hold on! Then we can keep the virus at bay. “
He affirmed that Germany was still at the beginning of a marathon to overcome the crisis. The pandemic is only under control when the so-called epidemic of the population is between 60 and 70 percent. At present, Germany is in the single-digit percentage range. The majority of scientists assume a second and maybe even a third wave. “The virus is in our country, it will remain in our country for months.” Wieler does not yet see the time for so-called immunity passes. There are still too many unanswered questions about when and how long a person is really immune.
Wieler: Wearing masks is important
According to the RKI, 159,119 infections had been reported in Germany by Thursday, an increase of 1,478 compared to the previous day. 6,288 people died (plus 173) in connection with Covid-19, and about 123,500 recovered. According to RKI findings, the number of corona deaths in Germany is increasing. “We see that mortality is increasing in Germany,” said Wieler. “And we assume that more people have died from it than have been reported.” People are most likely to get infected in hospitals. “That’s why wearing masks is so important.” According to Wieler, the so-called number of reproductions is currently 0.76.
Because of different calculation methods and different results, there is now confusion in Bavaria about this number. Prime Minister Markus Söder announced the value of 0.57 on Monday after a meeting of the CSU board. On this basis, FDP parliamentary group leader Martin Hagen called for a relaxation of measures against the pandemic. But the number does not match the nationwide value of around 0.9 that the RKI has given in the past few days. The background is that various calculation approaches were used, as the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) in Erlangen has now explained.
Accordingly, on April 26 the RKI estimated the number of reproductions (as of April 22) for Bavaria at 0.9. According to the calculation method to which Söder referred, R was only 0.57 (data status as of April 23). Other federal states such as Baden-Württemberg, however, always refer to the calculation method chosen by the RKI for the declared values.
The calculation of the reproduction rate is complex due to various factors and estimates. There are also various calculation approaches, as a LGL spokesman explained:
The RKI calculates R statistically as a trend (nowcasting). For this purpose, the number of reports, which are four days apart (so the defined period examined), is compared with a calculation and estimation method. According to the information provided, this procedure is based on the date of illness specified in the respective reports – which is approximately two weeks earlier. Please note: Just on Wednesday, the RKI changed certain parameters in the calculation. Since then, the RKI has used a so-called four-day average for estimating the current new infections and thus also the number of reproductions. A three-day mean was previously used. R as of April 29th was 0.75, the previous day’s value – according to the old calculation – was still 0.9. On Thursday, RKI boss Wieler said that the number of reproductions was 0.76.
According to an approach by the Helmholtz Center for Infectiology (HIZ) in Braunschweig and the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, R is modeled on the other hand according to the information provided by infection epidemiology based on typical disease courses. This estimate gives the value R for the day on which the reporting numbers are available at the RKI. According to LGL, HIZ came to the much lower value of 0.57 (data status: April 23).
The LGL makes it clear that both procedures have a different focus: in the first case it is about the reporting and transmission process, in the second it is about the presumable course of illness. Both calculations would be observed and used in Bavaria.
The crux of the matter is that – for example at press conferences – the exact calculation methods and influencing factors are often hardly communicated.
Berlin For weeks, the federal government has been trying to introduce a corona app for tracking infected and infected people. But the initial enthusiasm for digital support in the virus crisis has given way to a struggle for technical solutions, European cooperation and influence. And not only that.
A digital virus defense is viewed with skepticism in the population. At least that is what the current ZDF Politbarometer suggests. An app for smartphones that provides information on contact with a corona infected person without access to personal data would therefore only be used by 47 percent of all respondents. 42 percent state that they do not want to use such an app (do not have a smartphone: 8 percent). The supporters of CDU / CSU (55 percent), FDP (53 percent) and Greens (53 percent) are more open-minded here, but most AfD supporters (70 percent) are against it.
In order for the app to serve its purpose, as many people as possible need to install it. The developers assume that at least 60 percent of the population should have the app in order to actually achieve sustainable success. Germany’s top consumer advocate outlines how this can be done. “In particular, it must be demonstrated that their use is suitable and necessary to achieve their goal,” said the head of the Federal Consumer Association (Klaus VZBV), Klaus Müller, the Handelsblatt.
The disadvantages associated with the measure should also be in proportion to the advantages. “Already by designing the system, a strict earmarking must be guaranteed and the scope of data processing must be reduced to a necessary minimum.” This also means that the data must be anonymized and deleted as early as possible.
Müller also asked for a corona app to be used for a limited time. The measure should “only take so long until its purpose was fulfilled,” said the VZBV boss. The entire process had to be carried out with “the greatest possible transparency”. “This creates trust in data processing,” says Müller. It is also crucial for acceptance that the use of an app is and remains voluntary.
Spahn defends central storage approach
The development of an app is overshadowed by a dispute over the ideal data protection concept. While the platform initiative Pepp-PT pursues a central solution in Germany – i.e. a comparison of the data via a centrally managed server, the decentralized project DP-3T trailer recently won, in which significantly more data has to be transmitted because the comparison of the information directly from Smartphone is made. Most recently, the Cispa-Helmholtz Center for IT Security withdrew from the Pepp-PT initiative by 300 scientists from eight countries.
The Ministry of Health argues that a central solution is important so that the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and local health authorities have access to the data. He takes concerns about it very seriously, says Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) on Friday on ZDF. After all, it is about sensitive and personal data, about data security and the question of who has access to it.
However, the aim is that it should be possible to find contact persons for infected persons within “within hours”. That is one of the most important keys on the way to a new everyday life. “This basic belief that data that Apple and Google with American corporations are better protected than data that is also state-controlled on servers in Germany (…) I sometimes do not understand this belief, “said Spahn.
The federal government is meanwhile negotiating with the US company Apple about the requirements for a corona tracing app. It is about the company opening the interface to enable the use of an app, said deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Friday. “We need access to the interface,” emphasized Demmer. Apple and Google had announced that they would change this by May, which the Federal Government welcomed.
Great trust in Fraunhofer system
According to their own statements, both groups want to make their operating systems compatible for mobile phones in order to make the Corona apps successful. However, it had previously been said in the federal government that, unlike Google, there would be problems opening the interface at Apple.
The government spokeswoman confirmed the government’s preference for the app developed by the Robert Koch Institute and the Heinrich Hertz Institute, which provides for the central storage of anonymized health data for epidemiological evaluation. “The federal government has great confidence in the system that is currently being tested at Fraunhofer.” With a central app system, you have to trust a government agency. “With a decentralized system, you have to trust Apple and Google,” she added.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior pointed out that the RKI app is still pending an examination by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). “Then a decision has to be made in the overall assessment,” said a Interior Ministry spokesman. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the app.
More: Corona hero, miser or the new reckless? Read here how the world looks at Germany.
Wike Byl, the innkeeper of the “Unterm Reetdach” pub on the North Sea island of Borkum, christened the little bull that his only cow gave birth to after long years “Nobbi”. The young bull was stocky and had a funny appearance, Norbert Blüm told us in the nineties. He knew the animal well because he liked to vacation on Borkum and drank his Kruiden, some herb schnapps, with Wike Byl after extensive mudflats. Blüm mischievously said that it could not have been the reason for the name, “because unlike me, Nobbi has short curly tufts between the horns.”
Freelance writer in the business of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Blüm did not deny the horns. Horns are not a bad weapon for little men. You can use it to approach your opponent from below, impale him, whirl through the air and then put him down again in a friendly manner. How is someone without such skills going from the works council to the federal minister of labor for a whole long era in the post-war years?
The pipe that he seldom took out of his mouth and that he looked so comfortable with was pure camouflage. Typical are all the photos that Blüm aggressively makes you look up with your head bent at the back of your neck; the opponent is targeted from the oval glasses. He mostly opened the collar button because he refused to take the shirts one size up. Underneath is the thick, ancient windsork knot, a set that Blüm always gave the image of the former worker or better still the small employee and should also remind a little of the young David, who does not shy away from the great and powerful of this world.
Against the FDP’s bitter resistance
You are very close to the most famous Blüm photo from 1986, which even people know who were not yet at the time. How the little man climbs onto a small ladder to stick the big poster with the big sentence on the advertising pillar: “Because one thing is certain: the pension.” recognize the market place! – became the emblem of Rhenish capitalism. And Norbert Blüm was his prophet. Leaving the church in the village, preserving the welfare state and upholding the collective security systems, area tariffs and national social clauses were all part of Blüm’s basic conviction in the social market economy and at the same time the DNA of the mature Bonn Federal Republic.
This conservative-corporatist, continental-European model of capitalism, which we call the welfare state and which differs not only from the Anglo-Saxon competition model, but also from the social-democratic-egalitarian type of Northern Europe, sets all cards on stable employment as a guarantee of the security systems financed by contributions Protection against the collective risks of old age, unemployment and illness.
Blüms met with flaming approval that this welfare model developed more and more from elementary risk protection to the maxim of status protection – for example through the pension reform of 1957, which gave retirees a share in the progress in productivity reflected in wages and salaries: he saw himself With the introduction of long-term care insurance in the nineties, the “fourth pillar” of social security, as the completion of this project, it fought against the bitter resistance of the FDP. Blüm was proud that the guiding principles of this social model breathed the spirit of conservative Christianity, enriched with a dash of revolutionary, revolting IG metal spirits.
The Chancellor is in top form in times of corona crisis. Angela Merkel explains complicated population doubling rates and reproductive numbers. But she also knows everyday things. “They have to be washed or ironed regularly, put in the oven or in the microwave,” Merkel explains how to care for respiratory masks. “Even if that sounds a bit housewife, so to speak.”
The omniscient state – embodied in the chancellor. The subjects are explained life down to the smallest detail. With this self-image, Merkel takes “measures that have never existed in our country before”. Fundamental rights are restricted, the economy is pushed to the brink and then supported with unprecedented aid.
One of Merkel’s closest confidants, Peter Altmaier, is more than enthusiastic. “An uncle who brings something is better than an aunt who plays the piano”, the Federal Minister of Economics remembers of his childhood.
And what is brought along! If you add up everything the federal government now wants to offer to combat the corona crisis, you get a gigantic sum of at least 1.2 trillion euros. No other country in the world has raised so much money in relation to its economic strength.
Germany has a full 35 percent, far more than the EU average or the USA. Federal finance minister Olaf Scholz did not understate what he promised a few weeks ago: “It is not spilled, but padding.”
The increase in importance and power is unique. Never in the history of the Federal Republic has a government intervened so quickly and deeply in public life and thus in the economy. After the financial crisis, German government debt rose by 315 billion euros in one year. The value of the federal, state and local governments will be far exceeded in this crisis. “I am worried whether we will be able to return to normal economic policy,” says Lars Feld, Germany’s top economy.
The measures to protect health are understandable. But the question increasingly arises: what side effects do the multi-billion dollar rescue programs have? The free market is disturbed, competition is distorted, prices lose their signal strength.
“As much market as possible, as much state as necessary”, the famous words of former Federal Minister of Economics Karl Schiller lose their meaning every day.
There is a risk of higher prices, inefficient companies and loss of wealth. It is significant that more and more companies are turning to the Bundeskartellamt during the corona crisis in order to be exempted from cooperating with competitors. The new spirit of state economy speaks.
Spend as much as you can. The year 2020 will be disastrous. Kristalina Georgiewa (IMF chief)
Certainly, help for companies with no fault of their own must be provided. But with the flood of support funds, the risk of misallocation is high. Capital and labor are tied up in companies with below-average productivity, less investment and innovative strength.
A few weeks ago, after a parliamentary request from the FDP for possible support from zombie companies, the Federal Ministry of Finance had to admit that “necessary market processes of creative destruction are hindered”.
The concern is justified that the state is eating itself too deeply into the economy, throwing privacy and data protection partially overboard and that the influence on the market will not be reversed after the end of the crisis.
A look at history suggests little good. The federal government is still 25 years after the IPO Deutsche Telekom still the largest single shareholder.
Fundamentally, there is a problem that is known in the economy as moral hazard: companies and citizens behave irresponsibly or carelessly due to existing false incentives. The news of fraudsters sneaking up subsidies is increasing.
“The state is a lousy entrepreneur”
The appearances of Altmaier and Scholz are characterized by superlatives. At the federal press conference, they will be presenting the rescue packages worth billions to the public with great regularity. “This is the most comprehensive and effective guarantee that there has ever been in a crisis,” said Altmaier in mid-March. “This is the bazooka, we’ll look for small arms later,” the Federal Minister of Finance said at the appearance.
The small arms that have now been added are quite large-caliber. Scholz announced a debt-financed supplementary budget of 156 billion euros. This includes an emergency fund with a volume of 50 billion euros, which is aimed at the self-employed and small businesses with up to ten employees.
The federal guarantee for the state bank KfW is increased by up to 450 billion euros. And then there is an Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) with a volume of 600 billion euros. The majority is earmarked for government guarantees to keep companies liquid.
100 billion euros are reserved for possible investments, i.e. partial nationalization of companies. The battered Lufthansa is already holding talks about state participation.
You can still hear Altmaier’s words: “The state is a lousy entrepreneur.” The Federal Minister of Economics at least dedicated the most beautiful hall in the ministry to Ludwig Erhard. But he is currently just as far away from Erhard’s mantra as the Germans are from summer leaves in Mallorca.
Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (standing) and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (front)
The father of the “German economic miracle” throbbed to measure, he remembered sentences, the state should not be a player, but an arbitrator in the economy. Now the state is preparing to take over the entire football club.
No other industrial country is helping its economy with such large sums as the Federal Republic. This shows a new evaluation by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He does not criticize Germany, on the contrary. “Spend as much as you can,” advises IMF chief Kristalina Georgiewa. The economic situation is too depressing.
The Council of Experts is now assuming that the economy will decline by more than 5.5 percent this year. This is the case that was previously treated as a worst-case scenario. The economic downturn would be worse than in the global financial crisis. 725,000 companies have registered financial difficulties and short-time work.
Including: hospitals. Health Minister Jens Spahn ordered them at the beginning of March to postpone all planned operations. For the hospital operator, this means severe revenue losses. More than a third of the intensive care beds are not occupied. With the Hospital Relief Act, the federal government created a regulation to compensate the clinics for the failures. But that’s far from enough.
This is the bazooka, we’ll look at small arms later. Olaf Scholz (Federal Minister of Finance)
Some private organizations have registered short-time work, including the Schön-Klinik group. The head of the German Hospital Society, Gerald Gaß, sees the time for a “careful, gradual resumption of regular care”.
Spahn also said last week that clinics could “gradually return to normal”. “We do not want to keep 40 percent of the intensive care ventilation beds in Germany permanently”, said the minister.
The pressure on the companies is huge, the need for help is great. This year alone, the federal government is raising 156 billion euros in new debt. The federal states are also preparing an extensive flood of money for pumps.
According to a survey by the Handelsblatt newspaper among the 16 state finance ministries, they are currently planning 65 billion euros in new debt to fight the crisis. In addition to the federal government’s huge € 1.2 trillion rescue package, the federal states are also helping their companies and the self-employed. Bavaria alone has launched a fund with 60 billion euros.
The IMF chief not only welcomes the gigantic aid package in Germany, the monetary fund also calls for thorough control. “Keep the bills,” said Georgiewa. Transparency and accountability should not be put off in the face of the crisis. Whether Germany is world champion in this discipline, doubts are increasing.
Risk zombie company
The financial crisis shaped a saying by the former head of central bank in Europe, Mario Draghi: “What ever it takes”. In this crisis, it becomes a “Whatever, take it!” Aid is mostly spent without checking, the money cannot be distributed quickly enough.
According to an overview by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economics, over 26 billion euros were applied for by KfW Hilfen. Almost 13,000 of the more than 13,200 applications were approved. In other words, almost anyone who wants help gets it, most likely companies that didn’t have a working business model before the pandemic.
This easily creates zombie companies that are only alive because of generous state aid. After all: With the large sums, the KfW steering committee seems to be examining it more closely. So far, around 8.5 billion euros have been approved. So it takes a little longer for the large-volume applications.
In contrast, the self-employed and small businesses with up to ten employees are suspiciously fast. So far, according to the overview of 1.65 million applications, around 1.1 million have been approved and more than nine billion euros paid out. These are not loans, but aid that does not have to be repaid.
“Speed and thoroughness go hand in hand: it is carefully checked who receives the money,” Finance Minister Scholz promised. But is that true? North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin were even recently forced to suspend immediate payments because large-scale fraudsters wanted to get to the pots.
There are also problems with honest entrepreneurs. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the self-employed and small businesses are always granted the maximum amounts of EUR 9,000 and EUR 15,000 – regardless of need. This practice is not well understood in the Federal Ministry of Economics. Because a flat-rate payment of maximum amounts was actually not intended.
The aid should amount to up to 9,000 euros for companies with up to five employees and up to 15,000 euros for up to ten employees. The emphasis here is on the “up to”. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the actual amount should be based on sales and operating expenses for the next three months. An entrepreneur with zero euros turnover and 1000 euros costs would be entitled to 3000 euros in emergency aid.
But these details were lost somewhere in the confusion between the federal states and the federal states. The up to 50 billion euros are provided by the federal government. Although federal money is at stake, it is up to the federal states how much they scrutinize companies. In Hamburg, for example, a liquidity check is required. Other countries are significantly less strict so that aid can flow as quickly as possible.
In Berlin, more than a billion euros were paid out to solo and small entrepreneurs within days. And the Berlin Senate also admits behind the scenes that surely there are also deadweight effects. Since no examination was carried out, almost everyone received 14,000 euros in a combination of federal and state funds. These include the self-employed, who normally have annual sales that are significantly lower, they say.
Some recipients are now voluntarily repaying the aid for fear of sanctions. But whether a subsequent thorough examination is possible to convince fraudsters is skeptical in financial management.
Dangerous false incentives
The economic nonsense, which is operated partly in the name of Corona, is great. Governments in the federal and state governments are increasingly creating the illusion that they can regulate everything with state trillions. And more and more, government intervention and expansion is creating false incentives in all areas of the economy, which can be revenged bitterly.
Take the housing market as an example: the Federal Minister of Justice, a woman from the SPD, wanted to protect the tenants. The result is a half-baked law that gets small landlords into trouble. The law was so badly made that solvent companies like Adidas or Deichmann used the gaps and simply suspended the rent payments. Only after a storm of indignation did Adidas row back.
Take the example of KfW loans: After the institutes hesitated to pass on the subsidized loans from the Staatsbank KfW to companies because they still had to bear ten percent of the default risk, the state assumed full liability. With the danger that house banks will now be able to provide loans to companies that have long been bankrupt.
The banks don’t care, they are released from any liability, but of course they still make good money from their business. The fool is the taxpayer who has to answer for the defaults.
Example of short-time work: Short-time work allowance is a tried and tested crisis instrument. The state replaces up to 67 percent of net wages. However, the SPD was not enough. In the coalition committee on Wednesday, she pushed for an increase to 80 percent.
It is the most comprehensive and effective guarantee that there has ever been in a crisis. Peter Altmaier (Federal Minister of Economics)
However, a general increase would have significant deadweight effects: Many companies are already increasing short-time benefits from their own resources. Apart from that, the short-time work allowance is not meant to secure the standard of living, but rather to ensure the survival of companies and thus avoid unemployment.
In other areas, the federal corona strategy is rather arbitrary. The craft complained that the vehicle registration offices were closed. There is also much discussion about opening shops up to the limit of 800 square meters. This border was communicated at least improperly and caused confusion and indignation among the shopkeepers.
Now a Hamburg administrative court has declared the 800 square meter rule to be illegal. The court could not understand why opening larger sales areas alone should attract more people to the city center. Necessary infection protection measures could be followed at least as well in larger stores as in smaller facilities.
Whimsical and impractical was initially the requirement that repair shops were allowed to remain open, but the sales rooms had to be closed. Many craftsmen wondered if they could lead the customers through the sales room into the workshop. Another detail from this series of undesirable side effects of the rescue policy.
The border closures, for example with the Czech Republic, mean that the bricklayers are missing in the construction industry and the harvest workers in agriculture from Romania. The state decides a lot, but the consequences are borne by the entrepreneurs and their employees.
The argument for the state’s rapid generosity in the crisis is: rather spend more now to prevent the economy from crashing and millions of jobs be lost than have to finance mass unemployment for a long time. This approach is absolutely correct. But it also remains true: somehow the state rescue billions have to be financed at least in the medium term if the next generations are not to be overwhelmed.
Currently this is done through the use of reserves and debts. Germany certainly has scope. The Federal Republic had just pushed the debt level to below 60 percent, thereby meeting the Maastricht criteria for the first time in many years in 2019. But that will be the last time for a long time.
As a result of the corona crisis, the federal government expects a general government deficit of 7.25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year. The debt ratio as a share of all debts in GDP is estimated at 75.25 percent, as can be seen from the German Stability Program 2020.
“The projection is currently subject to very high levels of uncertainty,” says the current report. In other words, the debt level could be even higher. This mainly depends on how high the losses are that the federal government will incur from its guarantees and sureties.
Given the huge commitments, some in the grand coalition are trying to put the brakes on. “I don’t like the fact that we almost always get new suggestions every hour, what else can you do,” said Union leader Ralph Brinkhaus. “All of this must also be paid for.”
In a crisis, the state’s money is loose. Some sense their chance to finally implement long-held plans.
Millions of people use Zoom for meetings – or yoga classes.
Bangalore, Berlin Of the Video service zoom wins in droves in the crisis despite security concerns. Today, more than 300 million people make calls via the platform every day, as Zoom announced. Before the trend towards the home office caused by the outbreak of the corona virus, the US group had a maximum of ten million users a day.
The number of voices that speak against zoom due to security gaps is increasing. The car company recently issued Daimler the service for business use a cancellation. Zoom competes with teams from Microsoft and Cisco’s Webex.
Zoom tries to take the wind out of the sails of critics. The company announced that it would revise the encryption. Users had repeatedly complained that the service was not fully encrypted. In this regard, there is also a class action lawsuit against the group in the United States.
In addition, there are problems with so-called zoom bombing, in which unauthorized persons dial into a session. A new version for the app, which is about to be released, should prevent this in the future. In addition, the organizer of the video call can now decide which data centers are used in which region.
More: CDU and FDP politicians fear China’s access to zoom data
Munich Stephan Grünewald, member of the “Corona Expert Council” of the North Rhine-Westphalian state government, sees signs that social cohesion is disappearing in the virus crisis. “In the first few weeks there was an unparalleled collaboration between politics, experts, the media and the population,” said the psychologist and co-founder of the Rheingold Institute to the Handelsblatt. After a “tolerance to toleration”, the debate polarized again. “More and more doubters are reporting whether all of this is really appropriate.”
Corona is still experienced as an equalizer. “Everyone is affected. And all of a sudden, nurses, nurses, supermarket cashiers and garbage collectors are valued socially, ”Grünewald explains. As soon as the measures were relaxed, the “collective fate” ended and, for example, different grants or exit regulations created increasing rivalries. It will soon become clear: “We are not all the same.”
According to Grünewald, the polarizing positions of people can be determined by the agreement with the attitude of various politicians. He mentions the prime ministers Armin Laschet (CDU, North Rhine-Westphalia) and Markus Söder (CSU, Bavaria). “Some want a variant” Söder plus “, a leader – someone who is even more assertive and who rules even more clearly,” explains Grünewald, “Laschet is the type of moderating, weighing politician who takes citizens with him and takes all risks into account.”
Read the full interview here
Mr. Grünewald, you have been researching the state of the soul in the country for years. Did the behavior of the Germans in the corona crisis surprise you? Nobody had anything like that on the screen. This is the deepest cut since World War II. As a person I am horrified, as a psychologist it is exciting to watch what happens there mentally.
What did you notice? How we deal with a threat that we do not perceive sensually. In phase one, people tried to address the feeling of helplessness. The spring cleaning was even more martial than usual, you secured supplies in hamster purchases. In the first few weeks there was an unprecedented collaboration between politics, experts, the media and the population. All restrictions were carried.
And phase two? The turning point came at the end of March. When the last bans were pronounced, we fainted. It was clear to everyone that the crisis could only be sat out. Most people succumbed to a tolerance of tolerance, a social fast. On the other hand, the debate is polarizing again. More and more doubters are reporting whether all of this is really appropriate.
In your last book, published in 2019, it says that there is no common spirit of departure in the troubled society: “With fearful anticipation, you look forward to the collapse.” And the pandemic is this disturbing event. Everything breaks down that has given our life stability and security. Germany was one of the last paradises. Now you are afraid of infection, personal bankruptcy, bankruptcy and the loss of social cohesion.
And in response, are we chasing from one web conference to the next? Working through is a counter strategy. We are experiencing a consolidation of work through digitization. Expansion joints are eliminated, you no longer have to sit in the train for two hours to get to the customer. Others, in turn, allow themselves to slow down and the richness of everyday analogue: they play, do handicrafts, talk. Then reality splits.
Escapism would be normal in such a situation. Some actually flee into the daydream world of the Internet and from Netflix. However, this leads to unrest in the long term, and the anger potential increases. If, on the other hand, decommissioning is used as a pause for reflection, such purpose-free spaces can be the breeding ground for great ideas. It’s up to the Germans. We become inventive in the crisis.
You have criticized in the past that Germany has no master plan and no visions. Now we have to develop a plan against Corona and for a new economic miracle.
It is a negative vision. We want to ward off a great danger together. But this attitude will crumble.
In politics there are currently two politicians with different plans: Armin Laschet, whose expert council you are sitting on, and Markus Söder from Bavaria. In our studies on Corona, we actually experience a split. Some want a variant “Söder plus”, a leader – someone who is even more assertive and rules out more clearly. The one who offers recipes. The others say the lockdown is deprived of liberty. You would need a more open, lax approach. Everyone has to be responsible for that – as in Sweden. Laschet is the type of moderating, weighing politician who takes citizens along and takes all risks into account.
And what about Angela Merkel? In your surveys, she was previously considered “caring” and “comforting”. She has this trust bonus and again acts as a national guardian angel, just like before the refugee crisis. Oppositions will soon emerge again. The AfD will most likely occupy the “Söder plus” position, with the virus as a new enemy. The FDP will advocate more personal responsibility and relaxation. Both will get people behind.
Is there a new social gap here like 2015 in the refugee question? I see parallels. We notice that there are cracks in the families. You no longer talk to each other – either because you consider the other person to be negligent in dealing with the virus, or because you believe in authority.
How long is a person able to do without in a lockdown? The maximum is 40 days. The word quarantine comes from the Italian “quaranta”, forty – at the time of the plague danger in the 17th century, people were locked away in Venice during this period. That’s why our summer holidays are so long, by the way. At the beginning of May we have to give people a new perspective – and from then on it is best to do it every three weeks.
As a psychologist, what have you actually achieved in the expert council of the NRW state government? I have pointed out the growing danger of an everyday mental collapse and renewed social polarization. The latter can now increase because there are no longer any collective measures, but differentiated ones. This has to be argued wisely, but threatens jealousy and lack of understanding.
How do you assess the easing measures that the federal and state governments decided last Wednesday? This opening must not lead people to believe that they are back to normal. From a psychological point of view, the relief must therefore be combined with new precautionary measures so that the citizens feel that they are still vigilant and active. This includes the obligation to wear a mask and an app that shows infected people.
The population accepts that without grumbling? Politicians should know the well-being of the population beforehand. For example, many are eager to go to the hairdresser again, they are afraid to go wild in social isolation. The well-groomed hairstyle distinguishes people from barbarians. And hairdressers are important conversation therapists who wash our heads in two ways.
How important is it to continue playing the Bundesliga in May? People have endured social fasting only through small escapes. The good weather for weeks was something of a heavenly consolation. You went for a walk or jog. Football is often the dramatic climax of the week, so it’s a great escape.
Show professional games to fulfill TV contracts – doesn’t that seem like an arbitrary privilege for a certain industry? Without a spectator, the Bundesliga is surely an imposition. But it is so: we have bread, games are missing. Activities in opera and theater – all without an audience – would have to be expanded for streaming. The protagonists keep more distance on stage than the footballers in duels.
The debate about the Bundesliga and exemptions gives a foretaste of the social question of who will win the crisis and who will lose. That will be one of the major disappointments and dangers in the future. Corona is still experienced as an equalizer. Everyone is affected. And nurses, nurses, supermarket cashiers and garbage collectors are suddenly valued socially. But it will soon become clear that we are not all the same. If we relax the measures, the collective fate ends. If one branch is allowed to do more than another or one federal state more than another, this creates “sibling rivalries”.
And the role of politics in this? It will be harder for politicians to moderate these conflicts. Your current high approval ratings are just a snapshot.
What will media consumption look like? The arousal over Corona spread faster than the pathogen, you noted. For three or four weeks, people have absorbed everything on the subject. Our interviews show that this has now been exhausted. You really heard everything and you know how to behave. Now you watch less news again. It would be dangerous if the media wanted to counteract this through greater dramatization. They have to further educate, classify and create context, for example through country comparisons.
The phenomenon of “fake news” seemed to be a thing of the past. Everyone was interested in science and its facts. Will it stay that way? There is still a basic interest in the factual. But conspiracy theories also fatally promise easy orientation. But here there is a guilty person, a scapegoat and with it the hope that one can turn fate if one punishes the supposed originators.
Germany has struggled with digitization for years. Now it is developing almost on its own – a gain in the market situation? Necessity means that maneuverability arises from need. We are experiencing an unprecedented surge in digitization. However, this can lead to collateral damage if, for example, there is more digital control and control anger and the analog expansion joints break away in everyday life.
How will the country as a whole develop from the corona crisis? More foreclosure? Or more courage to find your own answers in and with globalization? We are increasingly withdrawing from ourselves during the crisis and narrowing our horizons. It is human, but it is important to expand the radius again soon. For example, I appeal to Germans to show solidarity again in Europe.
After 1945 the Germans had the dream of rebuilding the destroyed country. Does this mechanism work now? It is certainly a different reconstruction. The Germans have made great sacrifices recently – it would therefore not be enough to simply bring everything back to the old state. There is a longing for a new picture. It starts with the question of how fast you want to live your life. We never had the experience of extreme deceleration before. That comes into play.
What new values are important when restarting? Empathy and a new sensibility for solidarity. Who can I rely on in an emergency? Which politicians, friends and brands? That has the fiasco of Adidas shown that the rents simply did not want to pay. And leisure becomes important. In a recent study, we found that many Germans rediscovered the puzzle. You have to go step by step here, you need milestones and a framework. And all parts are equally important. It is like restarting society.
Mr. Grünewald, thank you for the interview.
More: The country heads’ resistance to Merkel’s basta policy is good and correct.
FDP Vice Kubicki criticizes the Chancellor and calls a number of measures “not plausible”. Some politicians see the debate on easing during the corona pandemic as positive.
The deputy FDP chairman Wolfgang Kubicki has Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) criticized for its stance in the debate on further easing of corona restrictions. “What bothers me and what I find outrageous is that, as Federal Chancellor, she declares that there shouldn’t be any discussions about how to loosen things up,” said Kubicki on Tuesday in the ZDF “Morgenmagazin”. Discussions are a “fundamental right of everyone”.
In addition, Kubicki emphasized that the “competence to order or abolish restrictive measures” does not lie with the federal government, but with the federal states: “In case of doubt, that will be decided by the local governments, not the federal chancellor.”
Wolfgang Kubicki: “At the moment, a number of measures do not seem plausible to me.” (Source: rtn, ute strait / dpa)
FDP: Regulations must be coherent
Social distance is the central means of defense against the corona virus. But the corresponding regulations should be “coherent in themselves” and “at the moment a series of measures seems to me not plausible,” said the FDP vice-president.
For example, it cannot be explained “why in areas where there are no infections at all, the churches must not be opened”. And “when we open stores up to 800 square meters, the question arises why we cannot open larger stores or restaurants where the distance rules are observed,” said Kubicki.
FDP leader Christian Lindner, for example, sees greater potential for opening up than Chancellor Angela Merkel had intended. “We have all become hygiene experts,” he says in the “Bild” report. People have been considerate and responsible with the situation. “That is why we can open up more than Ms Merkel currently thinks is possible.”
Secretary-General Teuteberg approves of the debate
Already on Monday morning, Merkel had expressed concern at a CDU Presidium conference on the current debates. She warned of “opening discussion orgies”. FDP general secretary Linda Teuteberg called this statement “remarkable”. After all, discussions were part of the normality of democracy, she said in Berlin. When politicians or citizens “think about sensible strategies for opening up, discuss the proportionality of fundamental rights interventions and the existential concerns that plague people, it deserves respect and not contempt”.
Union faction vice Carsten Linnemann said in the RTL / ntv- “early start”: “On the contrary: I think this country needs a debate about it.” The questions of easing are in the room and should therefore also be discussed publicly, said the CDU politician. That is part of democracy and that is the only way to build trust in politics.
DThe elderly couple quickly walks past the long line of people that formed through Dresden city center on Monday morning. “Terrible, this authority,” says the woman to her husband, shaking her head and shaking her head clearly. With this opinion, she is in the minority here. The first people lined up already one hour before the start of the issue of free mouth-nose protective masks at Dresden City Hall, so the city council started distributing them in advance. The waiting people advance patiently, but not always keeping the minimum distance of one and a half meters. “It’s pretty quick,” says a young woman who is still twenty meters from the counter. “Not even half an hour” she waited. The people in front of and behind her nod. All of this makes a lot of sense – and it’s good that the city is doing something.
Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.
There has rarely been so much agreement with politics in Dresden recently. Even when Mayor Dirk Hilbert (FDP) shows up for interviews in front of the golden gate of the town hall, he is received in a friendly manner. Hilbert had already decided in the past week to impose a mouth-and-nose protection obligation for Dresden in public, then on Friday the state government also passed one for the entire Free State, the first federal state ever. Hilbert complains that the state government’s decision is “very short-term”, but describes it as “very correct in terms of content”.
Covering your mouth and nose in these times is right wherever people meet. “This is the only way we can slowly return to public life.” The obligation to wear protection now applies nationwide on buses, trains and when shopping – and in Dresden also at work, provided that several people work together in a confined space.
“Absolutely fine, that should apply nationwide,” says one man, to whom city hall staff just equipped with masks and disposable gloves have pressed two protective masks into their hands. “If we don’t do that now, the whole closing circus will start again in a few weeks.” In any case, he would wear his mask from now on. “Also because I don’t want to pay 150 euros!” Of course there is no such penalty. The shopkeepers are responsible for enforcing the duty, the police are checking the local public transport, but this week is still forgiving, as Hilbert emphasizes. Even after that, there would be no penalty, the state government made clear. Rather, it is about creating awareness of the need among people.
Hilbert said he was pleased to see that about 80 percent of the people in the trains on Monday were already wearing a mask. This is a big step forward from last week, but it also shows that complete voluntary work is probably not enough. “Everyone should have a mask in the next few days,” says Hilbert, who wants the masks to be distributed to all local offices from Tuesday. Last week, Dresden ordered 200,000 pieces for a total of around 100,000 euros from two medium-sized companies in the city that put in extra shifts for the weekend.
The masks are washable and could be used several times. In addition, numerous shops have masks of various types on offer, which many residents have already purchased in the past few days, sewing machines are currently rattling at home, and neighborhood initiatives are producing mouth and nose protection. Hilbert praises this as exemplary, but at the same time, and also with a view to the Free State, explains that material must be made available to anyone who waives such a duty.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez presented a working paper in which he approached the federal government before the meeting. Like the EU Commission, he also envisions a huge reconstruction fund for the European economy amounting to 1.5 trillion euros.
But at least Sanchez wants to get around the biggest issue: that of common European public debt. Instead, Sanchez’s funding of the fund is based on the Brussels proposal, which is not met with frontal rejection in the federal government.
The idea of the EU Commission is based on guarantees from the member states. This would allow the Commission to raise more debt itself. The advantage: The member states would no longer have to transfer money to the EU budget, but the EU Commission could still finance the reconstruction fund and increase its clout through a “lever”, ie the multiple use of a euro. The financial maneuver is to be secured via the EU budget.
Partial liability as a basis for negotiation
In contrast to corona bonds, i.e. common European debt securities, the Federal Government is more open to this proposal. From the federal government’s point of view, corona bonds are banned simply because they would be highly problematic under constitutional law.
That would be different with the EU proposal. In contrast to corona bonds, the federal government is not fully liable for European bonds that are secured by European institutions, but only in part.
The Federal Government emphasizes how important this is to it in a response to a request from the Greens for European common debts in previous bailout programs.
The issuance of bonds for the EFSM, the predecessor of today’s ESM rescue fund, “is strictly limited in fact and is based on legal acts with a corresponding contractual basis,” writes Finance Secretary of State Bettina Hagedorn (SPD) in the answer.
This would not be the case with corona bonds. The opposition is still putting pressure. “A large reconstruction fund for Europe is now necessary,” says Green budget politician Sven-Christian Kindler. “The Federal Government can no longer refuse to fund the fight against the corona crisis on the basis of solidarity.”
Scholz calls billions
Identical demands come from southern Europe. The Federal Government knows that it cannot oppose everything; the situation in Europe is too tense for that. However, she sees the risk of being legally vulnerable if the reconstruction fund is too large. Ministry of Finance officials and budget politicians also want to keep budgetary risks as low as possible.
Two letters from the Federal Ministry of Finance to the Budget Committee of the Bundestag, which are available to the Handelsblatt, show the burdens that the corona crisis is already having on the federal budget. With them, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) is calling new huge billions of dollars.
One day, Scholz wants to have 4.7 billion euros on hand to increase the guarantee volume of the European Investment Bank. He needs another ten billion euros to provide guarantees for KfW’s new fast loan. “The sums show that the risks to the federal budget are becoming more concrete,” says FDP housekeeper Otto Fricke. Another budget politician, who does not want to be named, says: “The government is clearly expecting guarantees to be drawn to this extent – and the money is gone with it.”
More: 16 countries, 16 ways out of the crisis – why Germany’s approach to the corona crisis seems arbitrary.