Daily Host Nation Stories for June 17, 2020
Major events remain prohibited until at least the end of October
Major events such as folk festivals, village, town, street, wine, shooting or funfair events will remain prohibited until at least the end of October 2020. The Federal Chancellor and the heads of government of the Länder have, among other things, taken this decision. If the incidence of infection remains as it is, the Länder aims to return to regular schooling after the summer holidays. (NTV, June 17)
Restaurant visitor dies after outbreak at party
In the course of the corona outbreak after a celebration in a restaurant in the district of Leer, one of the guests, a 73-year-old man, has died as a result of Covid-19. Several dozen people had been infected with the coronavirus in connection with the event at the restaurant in Moormerland. The operator consistently stressed that all protective measures had been complied with. (Kreiszeitung, June 17)
Corona-Warn-App already downloaded more than six million times
The German Corona Warning App has already been downloaded several million times since its launch yesterday. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, 6,453,606 downloads were counted. “These are well over six million reasons why the coronavirus will have fewer chances in the future,” explained department head Jens Spahn. Every single person who uses the app makes a difference, Spahn stressed. “This strong start should motivate even more citizens to join in. Because containing Corona is a team game.” (Welt.de, June 17)
70 positive tests in Berlin apartment blocks under quarantine
The number of corona infected persons in the 369 quarantined households in seven apartment blocks in Berlin-Neukölln has continued to rise. District mayor Martin Hikel of the SPD told Radio Eins that 70 cases are known as of yesterday evening. These are distributed among the households and not necessarily concentrated in one place. The developments were relatively mild, but the situation is concerning. Hikel spoke of a decreasing discipline in the general population with regard to the observance of the corona rules: There is a growing attitude that Corona is over or not so bad, so wearing masks or minimum distances can be neglected. (NTV, June 17)
Federal government classifies Turkey as corona risk area
The German government classifies Turkey, together with 130 other countries, as a corona risk area. The list, which was published for the first time on Monday by the Robert Koch Institute and is now regularly updated, also includes other popular holiday destinations for Germans such as Egypt, Thailand and Morocco. Those entering from a risk area must expect to be quarantined for 14 days. For these countries, among other reasons, it is hardly possible to lift the travel warning, which still applies to more than 160 countries outside the European Union, as things stand at present. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 17)
Beijing closes all schools and cancels hundreds of flights
Because of the new coronavirus outbreak, protective measures have been further tightened in Beijing. At least 1250 flights were cancelled in the Chinese capital, as the state-run “Volkszeitung” reported. This meant that around 70 percent of all planned flights were cancelled. The schools also remained closed. Previously, the authorities had already imposed a travel ban on all residents of Beijing’s “medium” or “high” coronavirus-risk neighborhoods. All other inhabitants were called upon not to leave the city if possible. If they still want to do so, they must first have undergone a coronavirus test. (RP online, June 17)
Police respond to threat at the Mercaden shopping mall
On Monday at about 5 p.m., a police operation took place after a man used the information telephone at the Mercaden shopping center in Böblingen and demanded the lifting of the house ban imposed on him, threatening to commit a violent act. Since the caller was known to the mall security service due to past events, the police were able to identify a suspect quickly. The mall entrances and exits were secured by police officers. A short time later, a patrol car crew arrested the suspect near the shopping center. The 51-year-old was taken to a psychiatric institution. (Böblinger Zeitung, June 16)
Suspect tries to break into car with manhole cover
The police are investigating a 57-year-old suspect for attempted grand theft. The suspect tried to break into a BMW at the Sindelfinger Wald gas station and rest area at 10:20 a.m on 16 June. He lifted a manhole cover to smash a window of the car. The BMW driver saw this and approached the suspect, who left the parking lot. Officers of the Ludwigsburg Traffic Police Inspectorate located the suspect at the rest area and arrested him. Several scratches were made on the BMW. The damage to property is likely to be in the three-digit range. (Böblinger Zeitung, June 16)
Will there be additional housing available on the installations (in the future)?
The announcement of a withdrawal of US troops rises new hope for housing: It is “the unique opportunity to be able to satisfy the existing and also future demand for housing in the growing metropolis of Stuttgart,” wrote the chairman of the tenants’ association, Rolf Gaßmann, to Lord Mayor Fritz Kuhn last week. In Stuttgart alone, barracks and troop accommodation for the US armed forces occupy an area of around 184 hectares. This is more than twice as much as in the Rosenstein area, where 7,500 apartments are to be built. Gaßmann asks Kuhn to lobby the American government and its military authorities for a priority withdrawal from the economic metropolis of Stuttgart. “A military post is better located in a structurally weak region than in a metropolis where space is really tight,” Gassmann told our newspaper.
The U.S. garrison of more than 25,000 soldiers and civilian employees, as well as contract workers plus families, includes the Panzer Kaserne in Böblingen, Patch Barracks, Kelley Barracks and Robinson Barracks on Stuttgart territory. Gaßmann is particularly interested in the latter. There, an area of 65 hectares could be used by Stuttgart’s citizens. Part of the area between Bad Cannstatt and Zuffenhausen had already been returned by the U.S. forces, and a good 200 apartments and single-family homes were built in the Roter Stich area. Whether more could follow, the U.S. garrison says “no comment” on this. Even Kuhn does not think much of mind games: “As long as there are no precise withdrawal plans, as long as it is not really known where the U.S. troops will actually be reduced, possible effects on Stuttgart remain mere speculation, and I do not want to participate in speculation,” Kuhn says.
If barracks sites become vacant, the properties initially fall to the Federal Agency for Property Issues. It offers municipalities the “preferred direct purchase.” Heidelberg and Mannheim, for example, have taken advantage of this opportunity and are creating new living space on old military sites.
But by no means all members of the U.S. armed forces live in the barracks. In particular, higher ranking officers in particular often rent in the region and it’s very popular with the owners. The rents, mostly for detached or terraced houses, are sometimes a third higher than the usual rent, says a homeowner from the Böblingen district who prefers not to read his name in the newspaper. This compensates for the fact that the members of the U.S. Army can be transferred quickly and corresponding rules in the rental contracts that the Americans negotiate reflect this reality. “Given the size of the rent, it’s acceptable.” According to earlier information, members of the U.S. armed forces spend around 100 million euros per year in the region on rents alone. Nevertheless, the Americans play a rather subordinate role in the Stuttgart housing market from the point of view of the owners’ association Haus und Grund.
From the perspective of the tenants’ association, on the other hand, a withdrawal could certainly ease the situation on the free market. “Any apartment that is not that expensive on the market is good for the Stuttgart housing market,” says Angelika Brautmeier, managing director of the tenants’ association. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 16)
Region concerned about US withdrawal plans
The announcement by President Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from Germany has provoked worried reactions in Stuttgart and the region. Warning voices come in particular from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Baden-Württemberg Trade Association. They fear serious losses. Politically, however, there is restraint. “As long as there are no precise plans for withdrawal, possible effects on Stuttgart remain speculation, and I do not want to participate in speculation,” said Mayor Fritz Kuhn. On behalf of the city, press spokesman Fabian Strauch explained: “The city of Böblingen is in close contact with the U.S. Army. Our city has not received any information from the US side about a withdrawal of troops. We must wait and see to what extent these plans affect the Böblingen area.”
Panzer Kaserne is located in Böblingen. It houses the U.S. Marine Command Europe and Africa, as well as special units of the Navy and the Army. Stuttgart is home to, among other things, Patch Barracks (Stuttgart-Vaihingen) with the headquarters of the U.S. Forces in Europe (EUCOM), Kelley Barracks (Stuttgart-Möhringen) with the Headquarters of the U.S. Forces Africa (AFRICOM) and Robinson Barracks (Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen), where the U.S. location administration is located. The U.S. garrison in the Stuttgart region comprises an estimated 25,000 people; U.S. soldiers, civilian employees, contract workers and their families. According to the latest available figures from 2015, the U.S. armed forces employ 500 local national employees in the Stuttgart area.
There was no concrete information from the American side. “Due to the situation, we cannot answer any questions,” said Larry Reilly, Public Affairs Officer of USAG Stuttgart. The U.S. spokesman also did not comment on the economic importance of the installations and the number of soldiers and civilian employees stationed in the Stuttgart area. He referred to the Department of Defense: “When we all know how it will work, we will release the information.” However, the concerns on the German side are already very precise. According to Johannes Schmalzl, chief executive of the Stuttgart Region Chamber of Industry and Commerce, USAG Stuttgart represents an important economic factor. “It’s about investments, services and consumers. When a withdrawal is made, orders and long-standing economic relationships break off. The local businesses will feel this.”
“A withdrawal of U.S. troops would have a massive impact on trade in the Stuttgart region,” says Sabine Hagmann, general manager of the Baden-Württemberg Trade Association. In her view, the estimated 25,000 people in the U.S. armed forces is economical. “If all these employees were theoretically to leave the region, the retail trade in the Stuttgart Region, especially in the Sindelfingen/Böblingen area, would lose an amount of 150 million euros per year,” said Hagmann. It is based on consumer spending of EUR 500 net per capita per month. “In the situation in which the retail trade finds itself at the moment, this is more than bad news for the companies concerned,” she said.
Stuttgart’s city manager Sven Hahn considers a possible reduction in troops to be economically less serious: “The U.S. troops and civilian employees do have a great deal of purchasing power, but I don’t think retailers will feel this strongly. It’s more likely to hit the restaurant trade. Up to now, Americans have mainly shopped in their own facilities or online, said the managing director of the City Initiative Stuttgart. “If the facilities that may become available are used in a sensible urban development manner, people could move in who could then also shop locally. In the long term, therefore, a withdrawal does not have to mean a knock-out criteria for our trade, Hahn said. “What would be unfortunate, however, is the loss of encounters and friendships.”
Stuttgart Marketing GmbH explained: “We expect a decline in overnight stays after a possible withdrawal of the U.S. forces. Many soldiers would receive visitors during their stay in Stuttgart and tour the Stuttgart region with friends and relatives.
“This would therefore also have an impact on cultural businesses and events such as Wasen, Weindorf, and Christmas market.”
The candidates for next Stuttgart’s Lord mayor election (this year) Frank Nopper (CDU), Veronika Kienzle (Greens), Martin Körner (SPD), Marian Schreier (SPD) and Hannes Rockenbauch (SÖS), who were asked, Nopper, Kienzle and Schreier answered by the editorial deadline. Nopper explained “I would very much regret a reduction of the U.S. forces in Stuttgart, because the armed forces of our most important NATO alliance partner, regardless of which president, are not only of great importance for Germany’s security, but also as an economic factor for Stuttgart. Commenting on a possible reduction of troops, Kienzle said: “We would feel it if a part of the Stuttgart population were to be temporarily absent – in human terms but also economically. Many friendships had developed. Schreier said: “The transatlantic friendship is of great importance not only for Germany but also for Stuttgart. It is unfortunate that the strain of Trump’s presidency is now likely to be felt in the city of Stuttgart.”
Hannes Rockenbauch had already demanded at an earlier date: “The city leadership should demand the withdrawal of the troops and then prepare an urban development measure for the vacated military areas.” Martin Körner had also signaled interest in the U.S. properties in Stuttgart with a view to the housing situation. The areas of Patch, Kelly and Robinson Barracks, as well as other U.S. housing estates and storage areas together, cover more than 174 hectares, according to a list published by the Federal Agency for Real Estate in Stuttgart. The areas that will become available as part of the Stuttgart 21 project amount to around 100 hectares. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 16)