False incentives, fraud, debt: the side effects of the corona crisis

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.”

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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.

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We are not all the same “

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.

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Bundesliga: Laschet and Söder promise ghost games from May 9th – video – video

The Bundesliga has come a big step closer to the intended resumption of play on May 9th. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder and NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet have signaled that they are ready to play ghost games if the clubs adhere to certain regulations.

© Axel Springer SE. All rights reserved.

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Bavarian Markus Söder’s Political Rating Soars

It was in Bavaria, a region in south-eastern Germany, that the first case of coronavirus was recorded in late January, across the Rhine. Working for an automotive supplier, this first patient was reportedly infected by a colleague in the Chinese province of Wuhan. Since then, this Land of 13 million inhabitants has been the most affected by Covid-19, with 37,849 cases and 1,286 deaths recorded on Monday, April 20, in the morning.

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest information and France and worldwide

Led by the Christian Social Party (CSU), Bavaria is also the region which applies the strictest rules of social distancing.

Stricter rules

In mid-March, regional authorities approved the state of natural disaster and restricted freedom of movement. Since then, it has been forbidden for Bavarians to leave their homes except to go to work, do their shopping, sport or a short walk. Unlike other German regions, they were also forbidden, until Monday, to go out in pairs, with someone outside their home. The wearing of the mask in stores and public transport will finally be mandatory in a few days.

The holder of this hard line – however less restrictive than in France – is Markus Söder, minister president and boss of the CSU since 2018. Against all expectations, his policy is today acclaimed by his fellow citizens. According to the April 8 Bayern Trend opinion poll, 94% of Bavarian people of voting age said they were satisfied, or even very satisfied, with their work with coronavirus.

Health before industry

“When he was elected head of the party, Markus Söder was quite frowned upon, even by some of his voters”, comments Ursula Münch, political scientist at the Academy for Political Education in Tutzing, Bavaria. “But he has gained authority in recent months. He has successfully positioned himself as a leader who can act and show empathy. It enjoys an unusual popularity rating which is, however, double-edged. If the economic situation worsens, the trend can be reversed. “, notes this political scientist.

→ ANALYSIS. Germany: the Robert-Koch Institute, powerful coordinator of the fight against the virus

Meanwhile, his policy is making little waves, even if the automotive industry, which is very influential in this region, is hit hard by containment measures. “In Bavaria we are very close to the Italians and we were shocked by what was going on there, says Ursula Münch. So there was no real controversy over the containment measures. Markus Söder also followed his friend Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Chancellor, whose measures are just as strict ”.

The scale of a chancellor

Will this unprecedented popularity give the Bavarian Minister President wings to become a candidate for the Chancellery for the Conservative camp? Angela Merkel will step down in the fall of 2021. Until then, the sister parties, the CDU and CSU, must choose a successor for her. Officially, Markus Söder is not interested and prefers to lead the richest region in Germany. However, not everything is set in stone, especially as its influence increases.

On Wednesday, April 15, he won many points in a meeting with the other 15 regional leaders and with the chancellor. Social distancing measures are thus maintained throughout the country until May 3. As for the softenings brought, they were more limited than expected, in particular by Armin Laschet, president of North Rhine-Westphalia and declared candidate, him, him to the succession of Angela Merkel. The showdown may have started.

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Corona crisis: Markus Söder introduces mask requirement in Bavaria

Germany Markus Söder

Bavaria will introduce mandatory masks from April 27th

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Markus Söder announces mask requirement for Bavaria

Prime Minister Söder’s second government statement focuses on the easing of anti-corona measures that will apply from now on. Bavaria is slower than the rest of the federal states. Markus Söder explains how to proceed in the Free State here.

Markus Söder is cautiously optimistic about the corona crisis. A lot has been done, says the Bavarian Prime Minister in a government statement. He just wants to loosen the restrictions carefully – and introduce masks.

Dthe Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) announced in his second government statement on the corona crisis that a mask should be worn and that the closure provisions would be partially relaxed.

Söder was optimistic in front of the state parliament in Munich in view of falling infection numbers. “The trend is cautiously positive,” said Söder. There is hope.

“Patience saved lives. Impatience can risk it again, ”he warned. “We have passed the character test so far (…) But the situation is fragile. Corona is not a thunderstorm that moves on. Corona remains. “As long as there is no vaccine, caution and distance are the only possible concept.

Follow all Corona developments in the WELT live ticker

Therefore, the ban on contact – “by far the most effective measure” – will be extended until May 4th. However, you are now allowed to contact someone outside your own household, which has already been approved in many other federal states.

When reopening shops, you do “no hasty cold start”. Hardware stores and garden centers would be opened as the “first preparatory phase” this week. From next week, other branches with business premises up to 800 square meters would be added, including bookstores and car dealerships: “This means that almost 80 percent of the trade will be reopened.” allowed 800 square meters, Söder added: “I’m honest, that’s almost too much for me.”

Relief “consistently with protection”

From May 4, hairdressers are also likely to open: “You can see it here in the room, one or the other is looking forward to it.” Shopping malls and larger shopping centers, on the other hand, would have to remain closed until further notice.

The relief would have to be implemented “consistently with protection”, said Söder. As of next week, therefore, a mask will be required in public transport and in shops. Appeals, said Söder, would probably not be enough on this issue. This is about mouth and nose protection, a scarf is also sufficient. Medical masks are “exclusively” reserved for the medical field.

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Mature woman holding a thermometer and checking temperature while lying down on the bed.

Regarding the situation in schools and daycare centers, Söder announced that there was “no notabi, no averageabi”. The final exams would take place from 27.4. occur. Primary schools and daycare centers remained for the time being. Söder was reluctant to discuss the shortening of the summer vacation. He could imagine summer care for those parents who had used up their vacation by then. But it is also correct that almost 60 percent of the emergency care places on offer have not been used so far. Bavaria will also pay the daycare fees for three months.

Söder said he understood everyone “who wanted normalcy again as soon as possible”. It is no different for himself. But the progress made is fragile. “Bavaria is more careful than other federal states,” said Söder. One eases the conditions “not as hastily as others”.

As a country “achieved a lot”

In comparison to other regions and countries, one got off well, said Söder. “All of this takes place in the world – luckily not with us.”

In the four weeks since its first government declaration, the country has “achieved a lot”. Every day, 12,000 tests are carried out in Bavaria – more than South Korea – and they soon want to more than double that number to 25,000 a day. The capacities in the health care system were also increased drastically.

Against this background, Söder announced that it would provide a further 20 intensive care beds for corona patients from France and not only from Italy if necessary.

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Loosen or not loosen? Politics in a dilemma

There is enormous pressure on those in government at federal and state levels. Even after almost four weeks, the majority of the population endorsed the unprecedented restrictions, at least surveys suggest. But how much longer?

Constitutional lawyers pose the question of proportionality in the massive interference with fundamental rights. In addition, there are the psychological and social consequences of the ban on contact, especially with regard to children in difficult family environments or victims of domestic violence. Every day in the lockdown costs the economy billions, companies demand a perspective.

At the same time, epidemiologists warn against loosening the measures too early. There is a risk that the virus will return in a second wave, that the health system will still be overloaded.

Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), sees no reason for the all-clear. Significantly fewer new infections were reported than in the period before Easter. Bottlenecks in intensive care beds in hospitals are not expected in the current development. But: “We cannot yet conclusively say whether the number of cases will actually decrease.” The data basis is too imprecise.

At the moment, the registered new infections have “leveled off at a high level” and there are “no clear indications that they will decrease sharply”. In addition, the so-called reproductive rate – how many people are infected by an infected person – is still 1.2. The RKI had always pointed out that the epidemic does not really weaken until an infected person is statistically less infected than another person.

In a position paper, scientists from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig warn that the drastic everyday restrictions are already being relaxed. They also refer to the number of reproductions, which must drop permanently and significantly below the value of 1.0. “The more stringent the measures, the faster the target value is reached,” the paper says.

The Helmholtz researchers rely on model calculations that simulate the spread of the virus, depending on how strict the contact blocks are. The council “from the point of view of systemic immunology and epidemiology” with regard to the decisions on Wednesday should be held on the lockdown. “A later resumption of the measures would probably be more difficult to convey to the population than a continuation today.”

Scientific advice is in demand in politics during these times of crisis, but it is not uncommon to provide one-sided views of a complex problem. Even among virologists, there are different views as to which approach is appropriate and sensible.

In the hope of a comprehensive perspective from the academic world, the federal government turned to the Leopoldina, the most traditional German scholarly society. Professors from various disciplines take a close look at the corona dilemma in a working group. Merkel had described the report as “very important” for the upcoming decisions.

The opinion of the Leopoldina scientists has been available since Monday. They recommend “to develop criteria and strategies for a gradual return to normality beyond the acute restrictions of fundamental fundamental rights such as freedom of movement”. However, their suggestions met with a mixed response.

  • Improve data base

The Leopoldina scientists point to a problem: the official number of new infections depends heavily on how many people with symptoms are tested. This leads to “a distorted perception of the infection process”. Reliable statements about how many people in Germany may already be immune cannot be made. This also applies to estimates and model calculations for the course of the corona.

“These measures, called ‘shutdown’, are based in part on assumptions without an adequate knowledge base,” says the statement. As a solution, the Leopoldina professors propose a representative and regional survey of the infection and immunity status – which is anything but easy in practice. In addition, some experts, such as RKI boss Wieler, have doubts that the number of unreported cases of corona in Germany is really that high.

graphic

The Leopoldina recommendation is to resume primary and secondary education as soon as possible – including secondary schools, junior high schools, comprehensive schools and high schools up to tenth grade. Wieler, on the other hand, suggests that schools be reopened for the higher classes first. Young people could better comply with the distance rules.

The Education and Science Union (GEW) also expressed skepticism about the proposals of the science academy. So far, issues of infection protection as well as hygiene and cleanliness in educational institutions have often not been resolved, said GEW Chair Marlis Tepe. Sufficient protective masks would have to be made available.

In addition, the question of school transport is unresolved: the risk of infections in public transport can hardly be minimized. Tepe also recalled the high proportion of educators and educators who belong to high-risk groups.

Kindergartens should only open again in summer, according to the recommendation in the Leopoldina report. Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) raised concerns: “We also have to think of children from families who live in very cramped and difficult social conditions. External contacts and support from educators in their development and language training are particularly important to them. ”

According to Leopoldina, retail and gastronomy could soon resume business with restrictions. In addition, the Germans should be allowed to travel again in the foreseeable future, on business and privately. “Depending on the possible spatial distance and the contact intensities of those involved, social, cultural and sporting events should be gradually made possible again,” it says.

“People cannot endure this inclusion in the long run”

On the other hand, there are epidemiological fears that the fight against the virus could relapse. Many politicians see it that way. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU), for example, warned of an “outbidding competition” and argued for a “prudent way”.

Berlin’s head of government Michael Müller (SPD) assumes that the exit restrictions in the capital will not be relaxed before April 27. Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU), on the other hand, believes it is possible that the federal and state governments will agree on Wednesday to relax the corona restrictions on retail and wholesale.

More: Gerald Haug, the voice of the Leopoldina, in the portrait.

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Coronavirus: Vice Chancellor Scholz rejects curfew

Vor the decisive meeting of the federal and state governments on Sunday Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) against a curfew to combat the corona virus. “Especially in the current situation, everyone has a need for fresh air,” said the SPD politician of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. He hopes that “we will not be denied access to nature – at a time when most leisure activities are no longer available”.

Scholz said that the vast majority of citizens hopefully understood what it was about now. “Perhaps we can nudge the rest of ourselves a little so that we can all protect ourselves from further restrictions on freedom.” The minister described Corona parties as a “bad joke”.

Tenants should not be allowed to quit due to rent debts in the corona crisis. This provides for a bill from the Federal Ministries for Justice, Home Affairs and Economy, which is available to the German Press Agency in Berlin.

This should apply to Rent debts from the period from April 1 to September 30, 2020. However, the tenant’s obligation to pay the rent remains in principle. Other debtors who are unable to meet their contractual obligations due to the corona pandemic are also not expected to face legal consequences. There should be a legal deferral rule for loans.

The bill is due to be approved this Monday in the Federal Cabinet and on Wednesday in the Bundestag. In the template, the possibility of extending the deadlines by one year is created. “If it turns out that the period from April to September 2020 is not sufficient, (…) the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (…) is given the opportunity to (…) time limits (…) until July 31, 2021 at the most. “

Several federal states announced extensive measures in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus on Friday. In Bavaria and Saarland curfews are imposed. Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate severely restrict freedom of assembly. Meetings of more than three people are sometimes prohibited there. Restaurants also have to close in different federal states. The overview:

Baden-Wuerttemberg

Baden-Württemberg further restricts public life because of the corona virus. Gatherings of people in public places with more than three people are no longer allowed, as Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) said in Stuttgart on Friday. There are exceptions for families and couples.

Whether one in the future Exit ban I don’t know. One wanted to avoid such a ban, it was said before. Are closed Museums and theatre, Cinemas, Baths, Gyms, Libraries, Adult education centers and Brothels.

All Visits to hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, dialysis facilities and day clinics are until further notice forbidden. Restaurants and restaurants have to close from Saturday – and incalculable people face the consequences: violating the rules can result in hefty fines and prison terms of several years.

Also a variety of Shops remain closed, Services and meetings in clubs were prohibited. playgrounds are blocked. Supermarkets and other shops that serve to supply people remain open.

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Bavaria

Bavaria is the first federal state “Basic exit restrictions” enact. Prime Minister Söder announced on Friday. “We shut down public life almost completely.” From midnight, restaurants and pubs will be closed, too, and citizens should stay at home if possible. Hairdressers and hardware stores are also no longer allowed to open. The requirements initially apply for two weeks.

The grocery trade remains open. There is no reason to buy hamsters, warned Söder. People can also go to work. However, Söder called on employers to enable employees to work in their home office if possible. Outdoor sports and walks are also allowed. Söder warned, however, that this was only possible alone or in the family. There should be no group formation.

The prime minister announced that the police would control all the requirements. Anyone who violates this must expect high fines. According to Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU), fines of up to 25,000 euros can be imposed.

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Berlin

The Berlin Senate is preparing to contain the corona virus further restrictions on public life in the capital. The Senate wanted to advise on Saturday in a telephone switch, as it was said from the government. Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) announced on Friday evening that tougher measures and their implementation will be implemented in the coming days. Restaurants should then close completely – So far they can be open until 6 p.m. In the future there should still be pick-up and delivery services. Müller said: “We are experiencing that some still have not understood it and believe that restaurants are still a nice meeting place to celebrate, or I am having a party in the Mauerpark.”

Müller wants to avoid a curfew if possible – out of concern for social consequences, as he emphasized. “A curfew if children who may not be able to live in families in a confined space for months can no longer have dramatic social consequences.”

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Border controls for Corona

Childcare facilities also closed on Tuesday. All public and non-public gatherings over 50 people have been banned since Saturday evening. The police expressly advised not to report violations of this via the emergency number 110, but via the internet watch or the Berlin police station.

Brandenburg

Brandenburg initially does not impose any exit restrictions on citizens. He wants to rule that out for the next few hours or days, said Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) on Friday in Potsdam. You have to wait the next few days and observe whether the previous measures have taken effect. “I have a very, very good impression for Brandenburg,” said the head of government. He did not want to rule out restrictive individual measures in cities with an increased number of Sars-CoV-2 infected people.

Since Wednesday are only shops open with essentials, Restaurants are said to be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. allowed to open. Bars, clubs, discos and pubs close for the time being. Also Gyms, swimming pools, playgrounds, sports fields, cinemas, arcades, casinos, betting shops, prostitution centers and Brothels are closed. Visitation restrictions apply to hospitals and nursing homes. Events with more than 1000 participants are prohibited from 100 people they must be reported to the municipalities.

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Bremen

Bremen’s senator Ulrich Mäurer (SPD) emphasized that he hoped that a curfew could be avoided because this would create new problems. The term is more dramatic, but the content would not change much from the current situation. Meetings are already banned in Bremen. This is not an appeal, but mandatory.

Public life was largely shut down and people largely adhered to the requirements. However, it must still be possible to go to work or shop, go for a walk alone or in pairs, use local transport and go to the doctor. “This must exist in the long run,” emphasized Bremen’s Prime Minister Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD).

Are closed next schools, Daycare centers, Adult education centers and Music schools also Bars, Clubs, Discos, theatre, Opera houses, Concert halls, Museums, measure up and Exhibitions, Swimming pools, Saunas and Tanning salons such as Amusement and animal parks. Also Amusement arcades, Bet acceptance points, Casinos and Brothels may no longer open. Everyone Sports company, whether on sports facilities, in a club or in the gym, must be adjusted.

Stay open Food and feed markets, Pharmacies, Drugstores, Medical supply stores, Gas stations and Banks. In the supermarkets, sales will in future also be permitted on Sundays. Also DIY and garden centers, Post offices, Hairdressers, Laundromats, the Wholesale, Delivery and collection services remain open, sometimes under strict conditions with regard to queues and the number of customers in the market. Restaurants and Restaurants remain completely closed from Saturday.

Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony will also close everyone to combat the corona epidemic from Saturday evening Restaurants and Cafes. Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) announced on Friday. However, the out-of-home sale of food should continue to be possible. It is about preventing larger crowds in restaurants.

The catering trade had previously been forced to open only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, guests and restaurant operators often did not adhere to the requirements, including the distance, said Weil. Massive police operations have therefore been necessary since yesterday.

Because emphasized that a curfew is still not planned in Lower Saxony, there are already far-reaching exit restrictions.

Hamburg

Hamburg also restricts everyday life further. All Restaurants are closed and collections of more than six people prohibited, as Mayor Peter Tschentscher announced on Friday after a Senate meeting. Exceptions therefore apply to delivery services as well as to families or groups of working people.

Before were next Schools, daycare centers, theaters and Museums Most retail stores have also been closed. With exception of Supermarkets and other stores that serve people. Pharmacies, Pick up and Delivery services, Beverage markets and Banks remained open. The Sunday sales ban for these areas has been lifted until further notice, it said in a message.

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Hesse

The ceiling for meetings is set to five people reduced. This was announced by the Prime Minister of Hesse Bouffier (CDU) on Friday. In addition Restaurants and pubs closed at 12 noon on Saturday.

Already closed on Wednesday Bars, cinemas, discos and many businesses. Exceptions to this rule include Banks, grocery stores, delivery services, pharmacies, medical supply stores and other shops for daily needs. In addition, the Sales ban on Sundays canceled. The cities control whether the regulations are complied with.

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Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

Next schools are also theatre and Museums closed in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Visits are prohibited for old people’s homes, nursing homes and hospitals. Events with more than 50 participants are prohibited. The state has also been open since Thursday completely closed to tourists, also the Baltic islands. Vacationers and day visitors are not allowed to enter the federal state.

Police officers are deployed at ten checkpoints in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to combat illegal travel. Cars with license plates from Mecklenburg-West Pomerania are waved through, the others are stopped and questioned in doubt, said Interior Minister Lorenz Caffier (CDU) on Friday.

Caffier affirmed that those who do not abide by it commit a crime. There is no other way to limit the effects of the virus. In the tourist areas, guests who are still in the state should be asked in loudspeaker announcements to leave the state, Caffier said.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Prime Minister Armin Laschet has warned that the federal and state governments will impose a curfew if citizens do not follow the call to keep their distance. “If it is not about the voluntary commitment, then we will be able to make such decisions,” said the CDU politician on Thursday in the ARD.

Almost everyone is in North Rhine-Westphalia Leisure, sport, entertainment and educational offers been discontinued. Everyone has been staying since Monday Bars, clubs, discotheques, arcades, theaters, cinemas and Museums closed. The same rule applies to prostitution companies.

The operation of Gyms, swimming and Fun pools such as Saunas prohibited. Likewise, meetings in sports clubs and other sports and leisure facilities as well as the taking up of offers in adult education centers, music schools and other public and private educational institutions are no longer permitted.

Libraries, restaurants, pubs and Hotels should be subject to strict conditions in their company that prevent the spread of the corona virus. To ensure the supply of food, money, clothing, medication and everyday necessities, banks and retail businesses remain open, especially for food, pharmacies and drug stores.

For restaurants and hotels as well as libraries, there is a minimum distance of two meters between the tables, and hygiene rules must also be posted. Visitors must leave their contact details.

The city of Cologne has also announced a consistent intervention in public gatherings of more than two people. “No matter how nice the weather may be at the weekend, now is not the time to meet up with friends. Anyone who does not understand this endangers the freedom of everyone, ”said city director Stephan Keller on Friday. “Collections of more than two people will be dissolved as long as they do not belong to the closest family.”

Laschet said that the state cabinet would adopt further measures to contain the pandemic on Sunday. Among other things, the list of professions that may still offer their services will be revised. Among other things, talk about hardware stores and restaurants.

Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland

The Saarland wants to close restaurants and one in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus Exit restriction enact. Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) will propose this to the cabinet on Friday, the State Chancellery in Saarbrücken said. Since Wednesday Bars and Discos such as Pubs, theater and Museums closed. The measures also affect cinemas, leisure facilities and animal parks, amusement arcades and brothels.

Offers in clubs and sports and leisure facilities as well as adult education centers, music schools, churches and mosques as well as coach tours are also prohibited. On the other hand, grocery stores are allowed to open on weekdays until 10 p.m. and on Sundays until 3 p.m.

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Corona epidemic study

The Rhineland-Palatinate state government has the on Friday Closure of all restaurants has and Gatherings of more than five people prohibited. That said Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) in Mainz. The indoor and outdoor catering will be closed, but deliveries and street sales are still possible. For the time being there is no curfew.

Since Monday they are Daycare centers and schools are closed since wednesday Bars, cinemas and quite a few Specialty shops no longer accessible. The remain open Grocery retail, weekly markets, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drug stores, petrol stations, banks, savings banks such as Post offices.

Saxony

Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) sees curfews as a last resort to slow the spread of the corona virus in Saxony. This emerges from an interview he gave to the “Sächsische Zeitung” in Dresden. Nobody wanted a curfew because it would limit life massively.

So far, have been closed in Saxony Bars, Clubs, Discotheques, sports facilities, swimming pools such as playgrounds. Restaurants and restaurants should open at 6 a.m. at the earliest and must close at 6 p.m. at the latest.

Are not affected by closings, for example Supermarkets, beverage stores, pharmacies, drug stores, petrol stations, banks and Savings banks – Sunday sales bans are also to be suspended for these areas.

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Saxony-Anhalt

Since Monday they are schools and Daycare centers closed in Saxony-Anhalt. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, there are exceptions only for “training courses in accordance with the Nursing Profession Act, the Elderly Care Act and the Nursing Act”.

Also Sports halls, Swimming pools and other public facilities are closed to visitors – including the UNESCO World Heritage Naumburg Cathedral and the Halle State Museum of Prehistory, in which the Nebra Sky Disc is exhibited.

Schleswig-Holstein

Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) in Schleswig-Holstein wants to forego drastic exit regulations to contain the new corona virus. “Our goal is to avoid general curfews, which are currently being discussed,” said Günther on Friday in Kiel. “But we can only do that if everyone also adheres to these rules.” He wanted to avoid a curfew, “because it is also important to me that people naturally go outdoors”.

Health Minister Heiner Garg (FDP) did not rule out a curfew on Thursday evening. “If people do not stick to the measures that have been decided so far, a curfew is also conceivable as the last resort or a means of choice,” said Garg.

A complete one has been in effect in Schleswig-Holstein since Thursday Entry and residence ban for tourists. House and apartment owners were also asked to stay away from the country as far as possible. The North Sea Islands are closed to non-locals. Only commuters are allowed to come to work from the mainland. The gastronomy in the country is completely closed. Just To-go services and Delivery services are allowed. Hotels and pensions may only be rented to business travelers.

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Thuringia

Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) has urged people not to meet in groups because of the risk of coronavirus infection. “It is simply necessary to drive public life to zero now and you need a reason why you move publicly,” said Ramelow in an interview on Friday in the ZDF “Mittagsmagazin”. It was necessary to prevent the infection routes. “Those who protect themselves now also protect others,” said Ramelow, emphasizing that it is currently best to move as little as possible in public spaces.

Since Wednesday are among others Bars, clubs, family centers and Cinemas closed. Saunas, baths, brothels, gyms and sports facilities are also affected by the regulation. Restaurants are only allowed to open when there is between the tables at least 1.5 meters away gives. Nationwide also applies Ban on events with more than 50 participants. There are particularly strict requirements for events with fewer participants.

The city of Jena has issued a general ban on all public places. This includes streets, paths, sidewalks, squares, public green spaces, parks, parking lots and the city forest, as the city announced on Friday on its website. “The aim is to strictly avoid people coming together in groups,” the city said on Friday on its website.

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