New Corona resolutions: Now citizens should prescribe the lockdown themselves


Dhe guest, whom Angela Merkel invited to a meeting with the Prime Minister in the Chancellery on Wednesday, reveals a lot about the Chancellor’s understanding of the pandemic. Michael Meyer-Hermann, the head of the Institute for Systems Immunology at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research Braunschweig, had a say.

The scientist illustrated possible courses of the pandemic with a few mathematical simulations. Meyer-Hermann is not a doctor, he studied physics, mathematics and philosophy. Like Merkel, he has a doctorate in physics. In the spring he argued that the corona measures should not be relaxed, and justified this with the now well-known reproduction factor, which in his opinion should be 0.75. Merkel made this argument her own.

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The Chancellor has a mathematical view of the pandemic. She is calculating. On Wednesday, the Chancellor wanted to have a mathematician at her side to promote her concerns and the desire for significant restrictions on private and public life.

“It’s not five to twelve, but twelve o’clock to turn the ship,” Meyer-Hermann is said to have said according to participants. You are on the threshold of an exponential growth in the number of infections. He proposed travel bans from hotspot regions. “That was clear and tough,” Merkel summarized the lecture. The travel bans were not discussed any further later.

“We are already in the exponential phase, you can see that in the daily numbers,” Merkel said later at the press conference. Everything must be done to break this growth. This purely mathematical approach leaves other factors, which of course also play an important role for people in the crisis, only marginally. The desire to meet, to meet friends and relatives is of secondary importance, as the social component is rather cited as the cause of increasing numbers.

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These days the federal government is releasing a new chart intended as a warning. There are three circles on it that slightly overlap each other. “Reduce risk: avoid GGG”, the picture is overwritten. The three Gs are named in the circles: “Closed rooms”, “Groups and crowds” – and “Conversations”.

Anyone who takes a cursory look at this picture is advised by the government to please avoid discussions in the future. Most people will probably miss the fact that under the figure it says “when these ‘three Gs’ come together, the risk of infection is particularly high”.

The focus on numbers was criticized by some prime ministers in the run-up to the meeting. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU), for example, even wanted to talk about a redefinition of the threshold above which stricter measures should be introduced in a district or a city. He considers the limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days to be too rigid.

The Chancellor was frustrated after seven hours

The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet also pleaded in the meeting for less rigorous numerical values, for example with regard to the area of ​​private meetings. Others, such as Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther (both CDU) or Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD), held against it.

The negotiations were so difficult that they even took a break after around four and a half hours. The Chancellor was frustrated after seven hours. “The announcements from us are not tough enough to avert the disaster from us,” she said, according to the consensus of participants. With the measures now set, the federal and state governments would be “back here in two weeks”. “It’s just not enough what we’re doing here.” The basic mood is that every country is looking for a small loophole. “That’s what worries me. And the list of health authorities that don’t make it is getting longer. ”

Merkel strove for a sensitive tightening of all previous threshold values. In many places in her submission, only XX had been inserted instead of specific values ​​- the Chancellor apparently did not want to risk again that the border marks she had defined will not be accepted by the heads of state of the countries – but it was obvious that Merkel was strictly following the The number of new infections does not want to shake up.

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“The aim of all government action in the coming weeks will therefore remain to keep the infection dynamics in Germany under control. The benchmark for this is that the incidence in all regions of Germany is below 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in one week or is quickly reduced again below this threshold after outbreaks ”, it says in the submission and later in the resolution.

On the other hand, threshold values ​​are not defined in another central area of ​​pandemic control: the resolution says nothing concrete with regard to the number of hospital admissions or the number of patients in intensive care units. Here it simply means that this requires “up-to-date forward-looking planning”.

The federal government refers to the regional control of intensive care capacities by the states. The number of free ICU beds is seen as a critical factor in managing the pandemic. CSU boss Markus Söder defended the focus on the new infections. “It’s a simple corona traffic light,” he said. In many other European countries there are umpteen different numbers that are related. “Nobody can see through that anymore.” But it is not easy for the Germans either.

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In order to reduce the number of new infections, the rules should now be tightened. “In general, where the number of infections increases, and at the latest when there is an incidence of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a week, a supplementary mask requirement should be introduced in public spaces where people come closer and / or longer,” says the paper.

In addition, it is recommended to introduce a curfew in the catering trade from the 35 threshold. A specific time is only given if the incidence is 50 or more. Then the curfew from 11 p.m. is binding. Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) emphasized that this could be reduced to an earlier time in a few weeks, depending on the situation. Alcohol must not be dispensed after this time. Merkel wanted to introduce the curfew in 35 cases, but could not enforce it.

For 50 or more cases, the introduction of contact restrictions in public spaces to a maximum of ten people is also planned, even for private parties only ten participants are allowed, but from a maximum of two households. The birthday party with ten people from several different households is no longer possible. Citizens still have to remember other numbers.

Many are likely to feel insecure

“If the increase in the number of infections does not come to a standstill within ten days at the latest under the aforementioned measures, further targeted steps are unavoidable in order to further reduce public contacts.” Public space is only permitted for five people or the members of two households.

In this point, Merkel actually wanted to include private space as well. But there were protests against it, for example by Armin Laschet. In a protocol note, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse stated that they only wanted to make “restrictions on the number of participants for meetings in their own private premises as an urgent recommendation”. Lower Saxony wants to check this legally first. Saxony also has concerns. Nonetheless, Söder summed up that “the team of caution and caution” prevailed.

It remains to be seen whether the desire for clear, understandable rules with all these figures and limit values ​​will be met. Something else will be achieved, and perhaps this is the real goal: Citizens will be encouraged to lock down themselves. It is not explicitly imposed on them, but social and private life will be regulated so much in future that many will feel insecure and will therefore forego many encounters.

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The bans on accommodation, which have recently been hotly debated, also had a similar effect. In principle, they mean that fewer and fewer people go on trips, not because they can no longer do it, but because they are too insecure.

Although criticized by some prime ministers such as Laschet and the Rhineland-Palatinate colleague Malu Dreyer (SPD), the group did not agree on lifting the bans. Countries like Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt wanted to stick to the scheme. On the other hand, some want to lift it, like the Saarland. The topic was postponed, which made Merkel dissatisfied. The next meeting is scheduled for November 8th.

Politicians want to avoid the second big lockdown. But it is now constructing rules that in fact should lead to a lockdown of at least private life, similar to the one in March in many regions. “In addition to the health system, it is important to maintain the areas of education and care as a priority and not to endanger the recovery of the German economy”, explain the participants. Everything else is up for grabs again. Merkel said: “It’s always about contacts. There are still many ways to take tougher measures. “

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