Daily Host Nation Stories for May 29, 2020
Sunday demonstration will affect downtown Stuttgart traffic
For a demonstration Sunday, several streets in Stuttgart’s city center will be closed. This will affect traffic especially in the area of the B27 and the City-Ring. The rally is part of a series that has taken place at the Cannstatter Wasen. The city has limited the number of participants to 5,000 for reasons of infection control. The participants will gather in the late afternoon in Theodor-Heuss-Straße, Friedrichstraße and on the Börsenplatz.
According to the administration, Theodor-Heuss-Straße and Friedrichstraße in the section between Rotebühlplatz and Arnulf-Klett-Platz will not be accessible for car or bus traffic in either direction between 7 a.m. and 8.30 p.m. The city asks road users to drive around the area. These road closures are necessary because the rally is taking up more space due to the distance regulations under the Corona Ordinance of the Baden-Württemberg government. (City of Stuttgart press release, May 29)
Bahnhofs to become more hygienic
Deutsche Bahn wants to prepare itself for the growing passenger traffic in the corona crisis with more disinfectant dispensers for hands, more frequent cleaning and virus-killing light at stations. “We are focusing all our efforts in particular on cleanliness and hygiene at the stations,” said Ronald Pofalla, Member of the Board of Management for Rail Infrastructure. In addition, so-called routing systems are to be gradually introduced at all stations in order to better control and equalize passenger flows, so that distance rules can be better observed. (Ntv, May 29)
More people died in April than one year ago
In Germany, more people died in April than usual. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 82,246 people died last month, eight percent more than the average of the four previous years. The last time more than 80,000 people died in April in Germany was in 1977, and the connection with the corona pandemic is obvious. In the calendar weeks 13 to 18 (March 23 to May 3), 7,083 people were proven to have died of Covid-19 disease according to data from the Robert Koch Institute. The flu wave has been considered to be over since mid-March. (Robert Koch Institute, May 29)
52,000 cancer surgeries in Germany postponed
In Germany, the number of cancelled operations totals more than 908,000, including around 851,000 elective procedures and 52,000 cancer operations. In addition, according to the study, an estimated 5800 planned caesarean sections were postponed – although it can be assumed that these were performed shortly afterwards as acute operations. After all, birth can only be postponed to a limited extent. Even if hospitals performed 20 percent more operations after the pandemic than before, the British researchers believe it will take 45 weeks to catch up.
It is not yet possible to conclusively quantify the costs of the surgery traffic jam due to Covid-19 for the German health system. What is certain is that it is precisely the provision of intensive care capacities and the cancellation of elective operations that continues to cost hospitals, which have considerably streamlined their structures in recent years, a lot of money. (Welt, May 29)
Police feel displeasure of citizens
Politicians have apparently recognized that the Corona Ordinance in the state contains “an unmanageable hodgepodge of exceptions and inconsistencies” that citizens can no longer understand: At least Minister of Education Susanne Eisenmann wants to promote more comprehensible regulations, probably also this Friday in the coalition committee.
A family of five from the Stuttgart region was fined 200 euros each by the local public order office for briefly standing together during a holiday walk. The problem: the family lives in four households. In private space they are allowed to be together in this constellation, but not on the street – although the risk of infection is lower there.
If they find a violation, police officers must record the facts and pass them. Because the fines are sometimes very high and people were aware of this through the (social) media, they are increasingly sensitive to the police, Kirstein explained.
There are probably also police officers who act disproportionately. One woman from Stuttgart, for example, is surprised that her personal details were recently checked by officials while walking with her partner on a lightly frequented forest path near the Murrhardt waterfall. The reason: they were assigned to carry out more checks. The young woman says that she felt “harassed.”
The case of the family of five has also reached Minister President Winfried Kretschmann. In view of the speed at which the regulation has to be made, “such inconsistencies cannot be avoided,” he said rather succinctly. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 29)
Alarm for 307 new coronavirus infections in one week
New coronavirus infections in Stuttgart have remained mostly in the single-digit range for several weeks. This is shown in a chart of the public health department. Nevertheless, the city administration points out that despite this development, one should not lull oneself into a false sense of security. The number of undetected cases is estimated to be high.
Should there be a sharp increase in the number of cases of infection, the policy has introduced an emergency mechanism: If more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants are reported within a week, restrictions must be introduced.
For Stuttgart this would mean 307 new infections. Even at the time of the highest new infections, the city would only have broken this limit a few times. That is why the state has introduced an early warning stage. Starting at a level of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, the authorities are to monitor events closely, urge caution and expand corona tests. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 28)
Who can figure out the corona rules?
By June 15, the bans and exemptions to curb corona restrictions should be reviewed. Minister of Justice Wolf: “Even many experts are confused.”
This Friday, the “Green-Black” party wants to clarify how many people are allowed to meet without being punished in the future – privately and at events, indoors and outdoors, from June, July and August. Since the Council of Ministers has not yet reached a consensus on this – the CDU is demanding more loosening of restrictions than the Greens – the coalition leadership must negotiate. The outcome is uncertain. In addition, the proposal by Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Susanne Eisenmann to fundamentally change the system of commandments and prohibitions is also to be discussed: “Instead of operating with blanket prohibitions and countless exceptions, we should come from the legal point of view of permission,” she has suggested.
The fact that it is appropriate to untangle the legal web woven over many weeks – in the meantime, the corona main ordinance has been amended several times, and there are at least 17 subordinate ordinances alongside it is also considered appropriate by the Ministry of State. “It makes sense to look at the regulations in their entirety and, where necessary, to clean them up,” says government spokesman Rudi Hoogvliet.
It remains to be seen whether this will actually lead to a reversal of the system. The target date of June 15 is being targeted because the current corona regulation will expire at that time anyway.
The practice of adding, deleting and changing regulations overnight and under enormous time pressure must be stopped, he said. “The previous procedures could not be avoided during the hot phase of the crisis, but now we have to get to orderly procedures.”
The fact that the opposition has been chalking up chaos to the government for days is also due to the numerous ambiguities in the hot-needled regulations. How, for example, guided canoe tours or city tours are to be handled, or which subordinate regulations now apply to fitness studios in hotels, is not immediately apparent, even the Ministry of Justice admits.
In addition, the courts are also adjusting the rules. On Wednesday, for example, the Administrative Court in Mannheim ruled that bars and pubs may serve their guests earlier than provided for by the state, namely as early as 30 May – provided they do so outdoors. They may not be put in a worse position than, for example, beer gardens and restaurants with outdoor catering, it was said. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 29)
More planes take off again in Frankfurt
At Frankfurt Airport, the number of flights is slowly growing again. After the almost complete decline in the corona crisis, 45 destinations in Europe and 28 outside the continent are to be served again in the first week of June, according to a flight schedule published by the operator Fraport on Friday. This corresponds to about 26,000 seats per day and thus a round tenth of the previous year’s level. The handling processes will remain concentrated in Terminal 1 for the time being. Fraport is expecting a further expansion of services in the coming weeks. Frankfurt is currently connected most frequently with the major cities of Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Hamburg. (NTV, May 29)
Many Germans plan to cancel their summer holidays in 2020
According to the ZDF political barometer, more than a third of people in Germany do not want to go on holiday this year. 37 percent of those surveyed said they did not want to go on vacation. Slightly less than a third (31 percent) would like to go on holiday, but want to spend it in Germany this year. Only just over one in ten (13 percent) is planning a summer holiday in another European country. 18 out of 100 people are still undecided. (ZDF, May 29)
Sex offender confesses sexual abuse
The prosecutor’s indictment is close. In the period between the summer holidays and the Christmas holidays 2019, the accused is alleged to have sexually abused the two daughters, then eight and eleven years old, of a family of friends – several times a week while their parents were at work. The accuser speaks of all kinds of sexual practices in which the 67-year-old is also alleged to have used sex toys.
“My client fully admits to all the accusations,” says Stuttgart defense lawyer Markus Okolisan. “Yes, that’s what happened,” adds the retired man before the 4th Youth Protection Chamber of the Regional Court.
The man from the north of Stuttgart had been asked by the girls’ parents, who were friends with him, to look after the girls in the family apartment from time to time. At first this was a friendly service, then he received 50 euros per month, said the 67-year-old. According to the two children, he had taught them not to say anything, otherwise there would be trouble. As a reward, he gave them jelly babies, which he is said to have used in sex games.
“The big one wanted it herself,” says the defendant. The girls would have undressed themselves, too. And if they cried or screamed, he stopped. But the children’s statements would sound completely different, the judge told the Freiburg native.
In the end, the chamber sentenced the pensioner to four years and six months in prison. The prosecutor refrains from a second charge of alleged abuse of the youngest daughter. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 28)