Daily Host Nation Stories for June 15, 2020
Germany’s borders with neighboring countries are open again
The borders between Germany and its neighboring countries have been opened again. At midnight, the Federal Police ended the border controls that had been in place three months ago due to the corona pandemic, by order of Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer. At the same time the travel warnings issued by the Foreign Office for most European countries expired. However, not all of the entry bans imposed within Europe because of the corona virus have been lifted. In Finland and Norway, for example, the entry bans continue to apply in certain cases. In Great Britain, most of those entering the country have to remain in quarantine for two weeks. In addition, Spain will not open its borders until 21 June – although the original plan was to open its borders on 1 July. However, the first German tourists are already allowed to travel to the Balearic Islands again as of today. (Tagesschau, June 15)
New infections: Beijing closes another ten residential areas
In Beijing, ten more districts are being sealed off because of the renewed increased spread of the corona virus. A representative of the city administration said that several new cases of infection are due to a wholesale market in the northwestern district of Haidian. Therefore the market and nearby schools would be closed and ten quarters of the area would be quarantined. On Saturday in the Chinese capital, residents of 11 residential areas in the southern district of Fengtai had already been banned from leaving their homes after the coronavirus had spread there. These cases were traced by the authorities to a wholesale market for fresh food in Fengtai, which was also closed. (Morgenpost, June 15)
Number of infected people is increasing in China
Following the coronavirus outbreak around a wholesale market in Beijing, the number of infections is growing. The Chinese health authority reported 49 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 within 24 hours. Of the new infections, 39 were due to local infection, the National Health Commission said. Of the confirmed cases, 36 were in the capital Beijing and a further ten infections were introduced by travellers. The commission also reported 18 new asymptomatic cases, up from nine the previous day. Chinese statistics do not include asymptomatic patients, those who are infected with the virus but do not show symptoms. This brings the total number of Covid 19 cases in mainland China to 83,181, according to official figures. (NTV, June 15)
Public prosecutor’s office investigates outbreak in Brandenburg clinic
After the serious corona outbreak at the Ernst von Bergmann Clinic in Potsdam in March, the public prosecutor’s office started investigations against three senior doctors and the former management. The authorities announced that they are investigating on suspicion of negligent homicide and physical harm. (NTV, June 15)
School openings in Baden-Württemberg starting today
Many students have not seen the inside of a school for the last three months or so. That’s changing now. But because of the coronavirus, classes are still far from becoming normal.
According to the plans of the state minister of culture, Susanne Eisenmann, all classes will be taught in the schools again, although not simultaneously. The Ministry of Culture speaks of a “rolling system”. It applies to all grades of general education and professional schools – with the exception of those classes that already started on May 4 and are about to graduate this year or next. They remain at school permanently. “We’re not talking about regular schooling like before the corona pandemic,” Eisenmann said.
The “rolling system” provides for the different class levels to alternate in face-to-face teaching in the schools – and to study one week at home and then again one week at school. The Ministry of Education sets the following rhythm: In primary schools, first and third graders are to spend one week at school, and second and fourth graders one week at home. At secondary schools, classes 5/6, 7/8 of all school types and 9/10 at grammar schools are to be taught in attendance phases during the six school weeks still to come, alternating weekly. However, the schools are free to organize their own timetables and in some cases deviate from the proposals. There are also students who only take part in attendance classes two or three days a week in a greatly reduced number of hours, the rest must continue to be done independently at home.
According to the Ministry, the “rolling system” is intended to ensure that there are not too many students in the respective schools and that the distance rules can be better observed. In addition, the classes are to be divided into two groups. Furthermore, special hygiene rules are to apply in the school: Hands must be washed before classes, desks must be disinfected after a change of teacher, and breaks must not be taken together. (SWR, June 15)
Consumer centers insist on voluntary action
The consumer centres are insisting that the future corona warning app should actually remain voluntary. ” We cannot have a situation in which employers, restaurants or state authorities define the use of the app as a requirement for access and thus make the voluntary nature of the app a gradual obligation,” said the head of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, Klaus Müller. “The principle of the voluntariness is essential, must be used now in practice however in addition, and controlled. In general, the app was going in the right direction. The decision for decentralized data handling increases data protection and minimizes the danger of data abuse.“ (NTV, June 15)
First “test vacationers” from Germany landed in Mallorca
After a weeks-long corona break, the first aircraft with holidaymakers from Germany landed in Mallorca on Monday morning. Tui Flight X3 2312, which was fully loaded with 189 passengers, took off from Düsseldorf in the morning.
Since Monday, only holidaymakers from Germany have been allowed to travel to the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera. In a first contingent, a total of up to 10 900 travelers are permitted.
According to the regional government, Germany was chosen because it is from there that most holidaymakers come to Spain and the pandemic in Germany is as well controlled as on the Balearic Islands. A second holiday plane was scheduled to arrive from Frankfurt in the afternoon.
The pilot project is intended to test security measures against Covid-19, which will be used nationwide when all of Spain reopens to mass tourism from the countries of the Schengen area starting June 21. Due to decreasing corona numbers, the government had brought forward the opening of the border, originally planned for July 1, by nine days the day before. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 15)
Not a year for holidays like any other
Holidays abroad are possible again as of today, however, every flight or hotel booking should be carefully considered. Where can you travel again?
Only to most EU countries and a few other countries in the border-free Schengen area that are not members of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. For 29 of these countries, the travel warning will be lifted on June 15, but for Spain and Norway it will be later, as border closures decided by their respective governments still apply. Information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office indicates that the travel warning for tourists will also remain in effect for Sweden beyond June 15. The EU country does not currently meet the “pandemic criteria” for lifting the warning, it says. If this remains the case, the travel warning will only be lifted this Monday for 24 of Germany’s 26 EU partner countries.
Anyone wanting to go abroad should definitely take a look at the daily updated travel information on the Federal Foreign Office’s homepage beforehand. In Great Britain, for example, tourists have to spend 14 days in quarantine. It is still unclear when the travel warning for Turkey will be lifted. However, flights from Germany to Turkey are already starting again: Ankara has been allowing German tourists to enter Turkey again since Thursday.
Long-distance travel is still discouraged; popular destinations such as the USA or Thailand have imposed strict restrictions anyway.
The travel industry has massively pushed politically for the travel warning to be lifted so that the billion-dollar business with wanderlust can get going again. Thanks to a special agreement, up to 10,900 holidaymakers from Germany will be allowed back to the Balearic Islands from this Monday – two weeks before the reopening of the borders of the corona hotspot Spain. Not only the four local hotel chains are participating in the pilot project, but also the tour operators Tui, DER Touristik and Schauinsland Reisen. From July onwards, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus will be served by a special flight schedule. Masks are not only mandatory on board, there are also many restrictions in the hotel complexes.
Those who book their summer or winter holiday by 30 June can cancel or rebook free of charge until 14 days before departure. Like many travel agencies and online portals, DER Touristik, FTI, Alltours and Schauinsland are also offering special conditions after the three-month loss of sales. All the major providers also offer local holiday destinations.
What if a second corona wave occurs in a country like Italy while you are lying in the sun on the Adriatic Sea?
Generally speaking, those who book with the tour operator are better protected by the package tour law than those who book individual flights or hotels. “If the organizer is in charge of your journey, he carries the risk for defects arising during the journey,” stresses Robert Bartel, legal adviser of the consumer center Brandenburg. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 13)
What applies when to whom? Coalition wants to clear up corona chaos
How many people are now allowed to meet in public? Anyone looking for answers to questions about the corona regulations in Baden-Württemberg sometimes has to spend a long time looking on the state government’s website. There has been quite a proliferation of regulations since the green-black coalition of Minister President Winfried Kretschmann issued the first regulation to curb the corona pandemic about three months ago.
In the meantime, there are regulations for private events, leisure parks, indoor leisure activities, hospitals and care facilities, accommodation and restaurants. And regulations are being issued to amend ordinances; if, for example, corona virus measures are relaxed again. There are several problems for those who are supposed to apply them.
Shortness of time: Sometimes there are only a few hours between the announcement of a new regulation and its entry into force. This was the case with the swimming pools: The rules were announced on a Thursday – they applied from Saturday. That is very tight in terms of time, so that the swimming pools can be designed in accordance with the regulation. It was also very tight when the day-care centers were opened for more children in mid-May. The annoyed day-care center operators explained that they needed a longer lead time in order to prepare the day-care centers for the corona.
Legal uncertainty: Sometimes regulations does not stand up in court. The Administrative Court (VGH) objected to the originally planned 800 square meter regulation for retail trade. The government then repealed it. The VGH overturned the regulation according to which only one person was allowed to enter 20 square metres of retail sales space. Ten square meters now apply.
Difference: What is allowed in one state may be prohibited in the other. Kretschmann admits: “The regulations have always been changed step by step according to the situation. This of course leads to a somewhat unmanageable total work of art in the end. That also leads to inconsistencies.” The regulations are to be reorganized. The Cabinet is due to adopt the revised version of the main regulation on 23 June. The CDU top candidate for the state elections, Susanne Eisenmann, was the one who pushed for the reorganization. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 13)
Demonstration keeps emergency forces busy
A Kurdish demonstration kept the police in Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon in action. Several participants ignited pyrotechnics and did not keep the distance rules. In addition, the police forces were insulted with chanting.In addition to the “Black Lives Matter” demonstration at the Cannstatter Wasen, there was a demonstration on Saturday afternoon in Stuttgart city center with the theme “Stop Turkey’s war against international law, freedom for all political prisoners.” While the anti-racism demonstration remained largely peaceful, the police had much more to do at the Kurdish demonstration.
As the officers reported, the crowd started moving around 3:30 p.m. in Lautenschlager Street. Some of the participants disguised themselves, ignited pyrotechnics several times on their way across Theodor-Heuss-Straße, Rotebühlplatz and Eberhardstraße to the market place, and some of them did not keep the required distances. Apparently, the demonstrators did not react to the demands of the police.Individual lift participants probably showed forbidden flags and emergency services were insulted. The police are conducting investigations into various crimes and violations of the right of assembly. During the elevator and the associated temporary road closures, traffic was obstructed. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 13)