Local news translated – Thursday, April 8, 2021

Graphic of person holding newspaper

Germany is currently under strict lockdown restrictions, which include curfews.
Click here for details on how the Baden-Württemberg ordinance affects the USAG Stuttgart community.

Daily Host Nation Update, April 8, 2021


Coronavirus in Baden-Württemberg – Seven-day incidence levels off at 100 mark

Stuttgart – The so-called seven-day incidence of new Corona infections in Baden-Württemberg is settling around the 100 mark for the time being. Over the past seven days, authorities registered an average of 101.1 infections per 100,000 inhabitants as of Wednesday (4 p.m.), according to the state health department. On Tuesday, the incidence had been 100.7, on Monday still significantly higher at 116.8.  Only 22 of the 44 urban and rural districts are currently above the 100 threshold, but all above the 50 mark. The value continues to be highest in the Schwäbisch Hall district (229.2). The number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic has risen by 3109 to 377,111. Thirty-six more people have died from infection with the coronavirus or in connection with it, bringing the total number of deaths to 8,831. However, 337,872 infected people are considered to have recovered (plus 1863). (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, April 8)

Lower Saxony’s Minister President speaks against hard lockdown

The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil (SPD), currently sees no reason for a nationwide tightening of the Corona protection measures. He does not currently see an exponential increase in the number of infections, as had been feared, said Weil in the joint morning show of ARD and ZDF and warned against a “short-winded action”, as it had prevailed before Easter. Weil referred to the situation in Lower Saxony, where the incidence is currently falling. The situation in the hospitals is relaxed. The SPD politician conceded that the figures on the pandemic situation were of limited value because of the Easter holidays and that the effects of possible family visits were not yet apparent. “But now we already have Thursday again in the week after Easter,” Weil said. And, contrary to the assumption of skeptics, he said, an increase in the numbers is not yet apparent. (Tagesschau.de, April 8)

Education and schools in Baden-Württemberg – Students and teachers in hotspots will soon need negative Corona test

Stuttgart – In the future, students and teachers in the southwest will have to be tested in regions with high infection rates in order to participate in the classroom. Those who return to schools in the week beginning April 12 can still be tested voluntarily, as the Ministry of Culture announced Wednesday. From April 19, there will be mandatory testing for all pupils in regions with a seven-day incidence above 100. The ministry speaks of an “indirect testing obligation.” A negative test result is “a prerequisite for participation in classroom and children at emergency care.” Infection patterns permitting, all grade levels in all types of schools will return to alternating face-to-face and distance learning beginning April 19. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, April 8)

Merkel seeks amendment to Infection Protection Act

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is seeking an amendment to the Infection Protection Act to combat the Corona pandemic, according to a report. The goal is to standardize the Corona measures nationwide, reported the “Bild” newspaper in the evening with reference to government circles. Accordingly, counties are to be obliged to tighten their measures in the event of increased incidence and R-values, as well as taking other factors into account. According to “Bild”, members of the CDU/CSU are already planning an initiative, with the support of the parliamentary group leadership to also enable the federal government to enact Corona measures by statutory order. Thus, in addition to the state governments, the federal government would also be empowered to impose Corona restrictions. (Tagesschau.de, April 8)

The next “Corona demonstration” in Stuttgart announced 

Stuttgart – The reappraisal of the one demo is not yet completed, but already the next one is announced: On April 17, Corona restriction opponents and critics of the protective measures want to again demonstrate in Stuttgart. The announcement is particularly explosive in two respects: On the one hand, after the demo last Saturday, the city and its public order office will be under extremely close scrutiny as to how they deal with the issue. Still the criticism of the city does not tear off, because it had not considered a ban on the “Querdenker” demonstration last Saturday legally possible.  The demonstration in the Schlossgarten caused the police a lot of stress – not only because significantly more participants came than the organizers had registered. After the police had repeatedly called on the participants to observe the hygiene restrictions, the organizer broke up the meeting. He justified this not with the lack of understanding of the participants to wear masks and keep their distance, but with the bad weather on the day before the state election. The crowd divided into small groups. These moved into the city. The police had trouble preventing crowded situations where the groups appeared. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, April 8)

More freedoms for vaccinated people?

Karlsruhe – Easier shopping, easier travel – the debate about more freedoms for people who have been fully vaccinated against Corona has been picking up steam since Easter. It is still unclear to what extent Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) will succeed with his proposal. However, legal experts have long agreed that there is no way around a gradual relaxation of the restrictions on the basic rights of vaccinated persons.  In the case of vaccination, there has been one major unknown factor until now: Do fellow citizens benefit from it? Or can vaccinated people still be carriers, i.e. infect others with the virus? Now, in a report to Spahn’s ministry, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) assumes “that vaccinated people probably no longer play a significant role in the epidemiology of the disease.” The assessment refers to the risk of transmission “at the latest at the time from the 15th day after administration of the second vaccine dose.” 

According to the RKI, these people would no longer have to be quarantined, Spahn told Bild am Sonntag. “Anyone who has been vaccinated can go to the store or to the hairdresser without further testing.”  In principle, the state must never interfere with fundamental rights just like that. There always needs to be a justification. And the measures must be proportionate. Talking about “special rights” or “privileges” for vaccinated people, as some do, is therefore not without problems. 

Isn’t this unfair to the unvaccinated?

In fact, policymakers must constantly ask themselves: is it still constitutionally permissible to maintain this or that measure? Until now, this has been answered in a blanket way, even for those who have been vaccinated – because no one knew how contagious they are. New findings should make it necessary to differentiate more precisely.  In fact, only a small part of the (German) population has had the chance to be vaccinated so far. In an ad hoc recommendation issued at the beginning of February, the German Ethics Council therefore sees a danger that solidarity could crumble if vaccinations are relaxed for those who have been vaccinated – with negative consequences for the fight against pandemics. But here, too, there is already a reference to the fact that, once the risk of infection has been clarified, “individual withdrawals of restrictions on the freedom of vaccinated persons are conceivable and may be necessary.  The Ethics Council suggests that less intrusive measures, such as the distance rules or the mask requirement, could be left in place for everyone in certain situations. Legal experts also consider this to be rather unobjectionable, because here the encroachment on fundamental rights is comparatively minor. At the same time, there is a risk that relaxing the rules for individuals could create chaos and cause inspectors to lose any overview. Spahn also wants to stick to this and to the hygiene rules. But, “Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can be treated like someone who has a negative test result when traveling or shopping.”

What are the legal implications of these plans?

Legal experts believe such relaxations may even be mandatory. Severe encroachments on fundamental rights, such as the temporary closure of a hair salon, “can no longer be justified” in the case of people who no longer pose a danger, according to a paper published by the Bundestag’s Scientific Service in late January. Curfews, contact bans or quarantine requirements for vaccinated persons are also taboo for experts. Steffen Augsberg, a law professor in Giessen, Germany, is calling on state governments to include appropriate exemptions in their ordinances as soon as possible. “And if they do not, the courts must intervene,” he told the specialist portal “Legal Tribune Online.” He also reckons vaccinated people have a good chance of suing for the right to go to the theater, for example.

Have there already been such court decisions?

So far, the courts have been very cautious on this point, but a rethink may be underway: A senior center in South Baden is currently fighting to be allowed to reopen its cafeteria for vaccinated and recovering residents and employees. The Administrative Court in Mannheim had initially rejected this – only to submit a settlement proposal after all, because of the new RKI assessment. It is still unclear whether the home and the district administration will agree. Otherwise, the Federal Constitutional Court will decide soon. The case is already pending there. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, April 7)

Intensivist sends “distress call” on Twitter, “How high do you want the numbers to go?” 

The scientific director of the DIVI Intensive Care Register, Christian Karagiannidis, warns of overcrowding in Germany’s intensive care units. On Twitter, he gives free rein to his displeasure with the German government’s current Corona measures: “Dear decision-makers, how high are the numbers supposed to go before you want to react???? We are missing every exit to bring the numbers down,” he commented on an Intensive Care Registry forecasting model. “Our forecast model compared to the real numbers (in green) speaks volumes. Let’s finally act, please!” continued Karagiannidis. Virologist Christian Drosten also shared the post, commenting, “This is an emergency call.”(Ntv, April 8)

Due to rising numbers: Charité reduces scheduled interventions

Due to rising patient numbers in the third Corona wave, Europe’s largest university hospital, Berlin’s Charité, will again severely restrict other hospital operations in the future. Starting next week, employees will again be increasingly deployed in Covid 19 areas, and scheduled procedures will be scaled back, announced Martin Kreis, the executive board member responsible for patient care. “We anticipate another heavy workload for our physicians and nurses.” Emergencies and time-critical procedures are to remain exempt from the rule for now. (Ntv, April 8)


Non-Corona related news: 


Upcoming mayor’s election in Schönaich on May 16

Schönaich – On May 16, Schönaich will elect a new mayor. This Wednesday, Markus Mezger announced his candidacy. He grew up in Schönaich and has close family ties to local politics. Markus Mezger not only leads the CDU community association, but is also the son of Norbert Mezger, who has chaired the CDU faction in the Schönaich town council for many years and has acted as interim mayor since the resignation of Daniel Schamburek. “I apply as a candidate from Schönaich for Schönaich,” writes Markus Mezger in a press release, ” with all my experience, with all my strength and with heart blood for my home community.” After ongoing disputes with the local council, the mayor of Schönaich, Daniel Schamburek, had resigned at the beginning of the year. 

Since then, CDU faction leader Norbert Mezger has been running the town hall business on an interim basis. Although it would recently be possible for son and father to work together as mayor and municipal council, the Mezgers want to avoid this constellation. “Should the citizens express their confidence in me on May 16, it is a matter of course for my father, as a long-serving local councilor, to relinquish his mandate,” Markus Mezger emphasizes. In addition, he himself intends to rest his office as chairman of the CDU municipal association during the election campaign and, if elected mayor, to relinquish it. (BB.heute.de, April 8)

Up to ten kilometers of traffic jam during rush hour

Leonberg – Because the fire system of the Engelberg tunnel near Leonberg (Böblingen district) was triggered by a false alarm, there was a traffic jam on highways 8 and 81. The fire system reported the alarm early Thursday morning, whereupon the tunnel was completely closed to traffic, according to police. About two hours later, it was reopened.At times, rush hour traffic was backed up in both directions for up to ten kilometers. What caused the false alarm is unclear, it could have been a technical reason. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, April 8)

Magstadt: The Hölzersee is leaking

Lake Hölzersee, a natural monument and popular destination for walkers, hikers and cyclists in the Magstadt district, can no longer hold its water. “Muskrats have probably undermined a sheet pile wall,” says Magstadt Mayor Florian Glock. The remediation will be lengthy.

Lake Hölzersee is not actually a lake, but a man-made pond. When it was first mentioned in a document in 1680, it was still located in an open pastureland. Only the wet meadows on the north shore have survived. What grew there was no longer used as cattle feed in the 19th century, but only as bedding for the stables.(BBheute, April 8)

Police warns not to open certain links

Currently, the Ludwigsburg Police Department is receiving an increasing number of calls from cell phone users who are receiving ominous text messages. The message informs about the upcoming delivery of a parcel shipment or about problems that occurred during shipping and contains one or more links to allegedly track the shipment or to receive further information.

This is a scam used by cyber criminals. They generate SMS messages such as “Your package has been shipped. Please check and accept it”. However, numerous other text variants also circulate. Activation of an offered link can lead to unnoticed installation of malware. All SMS messages contain a link, which, however, differs from those of common parcel service providers and which leads to pages apparently compromised by scammers. (BBheute, April 8)