While other European countries, such as the UK or France, have started to ease restrictions or are preparing to do so, Germany is moving in the opposite direction. Angela Merkel, praised again a few months ago for the effectiveness of her policy, has all the trouble this time to make the country take a coherent and unified course in the face of the virus.
Several politicians are calling for the rapid holding of a new extraordinary meeting between the federal government on the one hand and regional leaders on the other in order to harmonize the rules throughout the territory.
The number of new infections “is not decreasing as sharply as we hoped”, and it is even increasing again in places, the government spokesman, Steffen Seibert was alarmed on Monday, stressing that Germany is ” far from the hoped-for trend reversal ”.
Screw tightening in Bavaria and Saxony
Saturday, 23,318 new infections over the last 24 hours were identified by the Robert Koch health watch institute. More than in France for example. “These are worrying days (ahead) when we look at the figures of the Robert Koch Institute,” said Steffen Seibert.
The latter estimated that the number of patients infected with Covid-19 currently treated in intensive care was “not acceptable” in the long term for the hospital system, which is increasingly under pressure. According to the Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care (DIVI), only 20% of intensive care beds are still available in Germany, or 5,450 places. The number of Covid-19 patients treated in an intensive care unit stood at 4,179 on Monday, against some 220 at the beginning of September.
Calls for vigilance seem to be less and less followed, especially in large cities. “It is obvious and necessary that each state thinks about the measures it could take to contain new infections,” said the spokesperson, calling “good and fair” the tightening decided on Sunday by Bavaria.
The Minister-President of the largest German region, Markus Söder, announced the implementation from Wednesday of local curfews and partial school closures. Travel must also be limited to the strict minimum, for medical reasons for example. “This is the last step” before total containment, he warned.
The Land of Saxony, in the east, at the top of the figures for new contaminations, is also preparing to toughen the legislation. But other regions, less affected, on the contrary are demanding more flexibility. And opinion appears torn. Result: German federalism, deemed beneficial during the first wave to counter the pandemic, now appears to be a handicap.
So far, Germany has managed to avoid strict containment, opting for a less drastic version than its neighbors. Since November, bars, restaurants, sports facilities and cultural venues have been closed and both public and private gatherings have been restricted, while schools and shops have so far been able to remain open.
These restrictions will remain in force until January 10 with some relaxations in principle scheduled, especially for gatherings between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Except that the latter are more and more called into question, for lack of an improvement in the health situation. While the German government and the 16 regional officials had agreed to meet on January 4, an emergency meeting could be held before Christmas.
During this, “it will be necessary to say that our current measures are not sufficient to really break the second wave”, warned Monday the Minister of the Economy Peter Altmaier. Favorable to the establishment of common rules throughout Germany, the head of the chancellery and right-hand man of Angela Merkel, Helge Braun, pleaded in Bild for “that no party is organized for the new year”.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr