Local news translated, April 30

Local (German) COVID-19 News

Translation courtesy of the USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Team
April 30, 2020


Daily Host Nation Stories for April 30, 2020

Lufthansa introduces mandatory use of masks 

The obligation to wear masks is not only applicable in public transport and in trains of the Deutsche Bahn. Lufthansa also requires all passengers to wear mouth and nose protection on its flights. It is recommended to wear the cover during the entire flight, the company announced. The mandatory wearing of masks on board is to be introduced initially from Monday, May 4, until Aug. 31 this year in all airlines of the group. The new regulation will eliminate the previously established practice of keeping the middle seats free in rows of three. Lufthansa justified its decision by stating that wearing masks provides sufficient health protection. (NTV)

Three-stage strategy for opening zoos first, then cafés, then movie theaters 

It is still unclear when restaurants or amusement facilities will be able to reopen. Three large federal states have now presented a joint plan, which they want to discuss with the other states. North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Lower Saxony want to gradually reopen tourism and hospitality. The economics and tourism ministers of the three states presented a joint plan to lift the corona-related restrictions. It provides for three stages: 

Stage 1: Zoos, garden shows, museums or mini-golf courses, among others, should open. Tour ships are to sail again 

Stage 2: Restaurants, cafés, beer gardens and snack bars should be allowed to open “with significantly reduced volumes” – as should hotels with a limited number of guests 

Stage 3: Theaters, concert halls, movie theaters and other cultural events as well as swimming pools may open. Any restrictions for hotels should be removed. (ARD)

Priority on health protection 

In all measures, it is important to bear in mind “that the protection of the health of citizens is a priority”. For this reason, the concept provides for compliance with strict distance regulations, hygiene requirements and registration obligations. Another prerequisite is always that the epidemiological situation continues to stabilize. 

The Länder intend to present this concept at the Conference of Economics Ministers. According to a joint statement, the states will determine the effective date of the individual phases in coordination with the federal government on their own responsibility. (ARD)

Virologist Kekulé: Vaccine could take years  

A vaccine against coronavirus would be the decisive step on the return to normality. It could be a long time before it is available to the public. “A vaccine will not be available for at least a year. But it could also take two years before a saving immune vaccine is available throughout Germany,” said virologist Alexander Kekulé on ARD television. “I think we would be fooling ourselves if we thought we could prevent deaths and simply wait for the vaccine.” There would be so many collateral effects along the way, for instance the medical care would not work. Insider: Venezuela wants to sell its gold reserves (NTV) 

According to insiders, Venezuela is asking the Bank of England to sell part of its gold reserves and send the money to the UN to fight the coronavirus pandemic. How much gold the government in Caracas wants to sell is not yet clear. Venezuela has 31 tons of gold deposited with the British central bank with a market value of about 1.7 billion dollars. A sale could alleviate the severe economic crisis there. Experts expect unemployment to rise significantly 

The coronavirus has taken hold of the lives of citizens in Baden-Württemberg. Step by step, the strict measures will be gradually reduced. Since mid-March, the corona virus has drastically changed the everyday life of people in Baden-Württemberg. Schools, shops or bars had to close temporarily, many employees went to the home office. 

With some delay, the consequences of the coronavirus crisis are now likely to be felt on the job market in Baden-Württemberg. Experts assume that the number of unemployed people rose significantly in April – compared to April 2019 anyway, but also compared to March. 

Although the pandemic had already fully affected the state at that time, unemployment had even fallen slightly in March. 214 118 people were out of work, the rate was 3.4 percent. However, the figures were only of limited significance because the data had been collected before public life in the southwest was largely shut down in mid-March. The official numbers for April will be announced today by the Federal Employment Agency. (Focus)  

More than 159,000 infected people in Germany 

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number of infected people increased by 1478 to 159,119. For every second German citizen, the loosening of restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus is proceeding too fast. In a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the German Press Agency, 49 percent had this opinion. Only 15 percent, however, said that the restrictions on public life were being reduced to slowly. 28 percent are satisfied with the pace being set, 8 percent did not provide any information. 

Mask obligation in Stuttgart—A summary of the first few days 

Since Monday, people in Baden-Württemberg have had to wear a face mask when shopping and on public transport. The transport association VVS has now commented on how the first two days went. The verdict: up to 98 percent of passengers respect the new regulations. Fines to be imposed starting next Monday During the first week, citizens still have time to get used to the new rules. However, as of Monday, May 4, a violation will constitute an administrative offense and can be punished with a fine between 15 and 30 euros. 

Exit without a mask 

The State continued to recommend that the public transport companies should address passengers without masks and ask them to leave the vehicle, unless there was an exceptional reason that justified their action. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten)

New offers for movie theaters and other cultural events in Neckarpark 

The City of Stuttgart has various concepts for new cinema and cultural offers in Neckarpark. The core of these concepts is based on the format of a drive-in cinema, but depending on the concept, they may be expanded to include other cultural offerings. The Office of Public Order will now start talks with the organizers about which events would be possible. 

This was decided by the administrative staff on Thursday, April 30. The Mayor for Safety, Order and Sports, Dr. Martin Schairer, explained: “First and foremost, we are examining what is legally possible. It is good if there are offers for entertainment. Nevertheless, the risk of infection must be as low as possible. The city also attaches great importance to the fact that the programs are varied and that the organizers also consider visitors without cars. Schairer continued: “We expect that the first events can be offered as early as June.” (City of Stuttgart press release)

Buildings left empty during the corona crisis: Health department advises continued use of drinking water systems and prevention of germ contamination  

Due to the current Corona regulation many shops and businesses are currently closed. The building objects remain accordingly unused. The public health department of the city of Stuttgart therefore advises businesses to continue to operate the drinking water installations in the buildings and, for example, to turn on the taps regularly. In this way, it can be prevented that the drinking water installation becomes contaminated while the building is empty. 

As the public health department further states, the quality of the drinking water offered must be impeccable according to the Drinking Water Ordinance. There is a health danger if the installations are not used as intended. For example, heavy metals can accumulate in the drinking water or form a biofilm. The risk of legionella and other harmful germs multiplying is also increased. Potable water tests should be carried out urgently if there are deficiencies in the installation. For microbiological tests, drinking water must be tested for the following hygiene parameters at a representative sample point: 

∙ Escherichia coli 

∙ Coliform bacteria 

∙ Colony count at 22 °C 

∙ Colony count at 36 °C 

If the building objects are facilities for infants (0-3 years) or health and care institutions, it is also necessary to test for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 

The hot water installation must be checked for legionella, and the microbiological parameters must be determined annually, even without interrupting operations. In addition, drinking water tests for heavy metals must be carried out every five years 

Further information can be obtained from the Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Protection, Environmental Hygiene, at the following e-mail address: trinkwasser@stuttgart.de

If the pipes are not shut off but continue to be flushed, it may make sense to switch off the heating of drinking water in the event of shorter interruptions in operation. The pipes must then be rinsed cold as a precaution so that the slow cooling of the water does not promote the growth of legionella. The circulation pump should remain in operation during the rinsing measures, if possible, in order to ensure a water exchange even in the otherwise stagnating circulation line. (Press release Stuttgart April 30, 2020) 

City calls on visitors of the forests to show mutual consideration 

Because of the Corona crisis, many citizens are currently seeking recreation in the forests. Conflicts between different user groups such as walkers, joggers, dog owners or mountain bikers are increasingly occurring. In view of the numerous complaints received, the state capital Stuttgart again called for mutual consideration on April 30. 

One problem is the encounter between mountain bikers and people out for a walk on small, narrow paths and trails. Since cyclists are not allowed to use forest paths less than two meters wide, many people on walks do not expect to meet mountain bikers here. In addition, many visitors of the forest are disturbed by the sometimes massive jumps and obstacles that mountain bikers create in the forest without permission. 

“The city has nothing against mountain bikers, we are working together with those involved to find a long-term and legal solution to make this kind of sport possible in our forests,” said Technical Mayor Dirk Thürnau. The mayor emphasized that especially in the current exceptional situation, however, everyone must follow the rules. “The forest is for everyone – it only works with mutual respect,” Thürnau said. 

In the long-term, the conflict between mountain bikers and pedestrians is to be solved by a leisure concept for the Stuttgart city forest. The city council has made 160,000 euros available for this in the current dual budget. It will also examine whether and how legal mountain bike trails can be created and how the various uses can be coordinated. 

The police and public order authorities will step up their surveillance of compliance with the rules in the forest. Basically, the following applies: guidelines for the containment of the coronavirus must, of course, also be followed in the wild. 

“Just like when shopping or using public transport, each individual is also requested to observe the rules of distance and hygiene when visiting the forest,” said Dr. Martin Schairer, the Mayor for Safety, Order and Sports. 

Because of the high risk of forest fires, the mayor also appealed to the people of Stuttgart to refrain from fires in the forest, especially since the barbecue areas are closed anyway. (City of Stuttgart press release)

Findings on the number of cases: Researchers find Corona in wastewater  

Researchers in Switzerland have succeeded in detecting the coronavirus even in low concentrations in wastewater. A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is now working on a system that will be able to indicate a potential increase in the number of cases earlier than clinical tests on infected people. 

“The wastewater does not lie and reflects within a few hours what the population is excreting,” explains expert Christoph Ort. (NTV)

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