Daily Host Nation Stories for May 7, 2020
Söder slows down the euphoria: “There is no all-clear”
Bavaria’s Minister-President Markus Söder urges “to be more prudent, for a longer period of time” when it comes to easing the corona protection measures. Corona is “under control for today,” says the politician on ZDF. “But of course there is no all-clear, because we have no vaccine, we have no therapy. … I’m a bit surprised at how quickly everything is to be approved again now – and within days. Bavaria will “do everything a bit later than others, because I believe we have to react with more caution than with rush.” (ZDF, May 7)
RKI discontinues regular press briefings
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is ending its regular press briefings, which were last held twice a week. As of next week, these will no longer be held, RKI Vice President Lars Schaade announced. At the beginning of the virus crisis, it was important to classify the events by means of frequent briefings to the public. There will still be press conferences, but they will be held on specific occasions. (Robert Koch Institute, May 7)
Death threats against Tübingen’s Lord Mayor Palmer
After his comments on elderly corona patients, Lord Mayor of Tübingen Boris Palmer is massively threatened. He has now handed over one hundred threat e-mails to the public prosecutor’s office in Tübingen. He should be “lynched” and may “hopefully die of Corona.” Since last week a flood of mails, letters and threatening phone calls has reached the Tübingen town hall, Palmer confirmed to SWR radio. Since town hall employees were also threatened and insulted, they did not answer the phone anymore. Mail addressed to him personally was no longer opened, but filed in his office. Palmer’s mother and other family members were also massively threatened. Some people had written him under their legal names. It could very expensive for them. By law, people who threaten to commit a crime can be fined heavily or even imprisoned for up to a year. (SWR, May 7)
Coronavirus is said to have already spread rapidly in October 2019
There is growing evidence that the novel coronavirus may not have been in circulation worldwide only since early 2020. Scientists at the University of London published a study on Wednesday according to which the virus appeared at the end of 2019 and then spread around the world at a rapid pace. Analyses of genetic samples taken from more than 7500 people infected with Covid-19 also revealed mutations in the virus. It might be possible to identify how the virus develops as it spreads. However, it is not possible to say whether the virus has become more or less deadly and contagious. The scientists assume that the pandemic began between Oct. 6 and Dec. 11. (NTV , May 6)
Virologist Kekulé worried about loosening
Virologist Alexander Kekulé has expressed concern about the speed and extent of the easing of restrictions due to the corona pandemic in Germany. The traceability of infections is “not yet implemented as desired”, and risk groups are still not sufficiently protected, Kekulé told ZDF television. He said that the now agreed relaxation would “reduce the level of protection”. He added that “a sustainable protection concept” was important, and not a politics based “in and out.” (ZDF, May 7)
Many consumers are waiting for a vaccine before returning to everyday life
Many consumers want to change their everyday life patterns as a result of the corona crisis. Even after the pandemic has faded away, they want to visit the movie theater or concerts less often, travel less and avoid public transportation. These are the results of a representative survey published by market research company McKinsey. As long as no vaccine against the corona virus is available, around 40 percent of the survey respondents want to use public transport such as buses, trains or airplanes less frequently. Instead, they want to walk more often, or use their bicycles or their own car. Even after the corona crisis passes, a third of the respondents want to go to concerts, theater or cinema less often, 26 percent do not want to go at all. And around 29 percent of the respondents indicated that they would still want to travel less for business or private reasons after the corona crisis had subsided. Another 27 percent are even planning to completely discontinue travel. Around 30 percent announced that they would spend less money on luxury products or unnecessary purchases in the future. According to the survey, every fourth person wants to pay more attention to prices when shopping. (NTV, May 7)
“Pragstrasse” remains a problem with NO2 in the air
The reduction of public life due to the corona epidemic has also drastically reduced car traffic in Stuttgart and had a positive effect on the concentration of pollutants in the air. However, even nine months of reduced traffic from April to December would not reduce the annual average value for nitrogen dioxide in 2020 to the limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air, at least at one measuring point in Stuttgart. This has now been substantiated by forecast figures that have been presented to the State Ministry of Transport. According to this, 42.9 or 43.2 micrograms of NO2 would be recorded at the Pragstraße measuring point in Bad Cannstatt, depending on the underlying emission behavior of the vehicles. Otherwise the permissible annual average value in the city would be below: at the Talstraße measuring point in the east of Stuttgart with 38.8 or 39.6 micrograms, at the Neckartor with 37.8 or 38.5, and in Hohenheimer Straße with 33.4 or 34.5 micrograms. Incidentally, this station is the only one where the limit value could be met even if the traffic volume were to return to normal after March. The forecasts now came after heated discussions in April about the role of diesel cars, whose older models are considered to have high nitrogen oxide emissions. The CDU and the FDP considered the car to be relieved, because the NO2 readings were almost unchanged despite less traffic. The air pollution had other causes. Climatologists, however, argue that there has been a decrease in the concentration of pollutants and that air-chemical processes should not be ignored, nor should the air exchange, which at times was more favorable than usual. The new forecasts come from three specialist offices that had previously worked for the ministry in order to assess whether the NO 2 limit value in Stuttgart will have to be complied with this year and whether the additional driving bans for Euro 5 diesel demanded by courts can be avoided. Following the decline in motor vehicle traffic, Minister Winfried Hermann also had additional calculations made to see what it would look like if the volume of traffic remained one third lower for the rest of the year. Therefore, it’s clear that Stuttgart, even with the effects of the lockdown, will not fully meet the legal standards for air quality everywhere. This would then suggest that after a few route-related bans on relatively modern Euro 5 diesel vehicles, the regional council would have to issue further bans for them: in a small low emission zone comprising the city center, Bad Cannstatt, Feuerbach and Zuffenhausen. The ministry is not drawing this conclusion. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 6)
Easing on Corona restrictions – step by step measures for May and June for Baden-Württemberg
After Church services, Zoos and hairdressers have reopened, many other areas of everyday life in Baden-Württemberg are to be opened in the coming weeks. The Baden-Württemberg State Government has worked out a step-by-step plan for it. Minister President Winfried Kretschmann presented the main contents to the State Parliament on Wednesday. The plan is still in final agreement with the ministries, said the politician. The traffic light system divides areas of public life from green to red – depending on the risk of corona infection. According to the draft, not only outdoor restaurants, but also the interior of restaurants will be allowed to reopen in May under strict hygiene regulations.
Stage 1, light green: outdoor sports without physical contact will be allowed again from May 11. Open-air sports facilities such as golf courses or tennis courts, but also riding facilities and dog schools will be allowed to open again. The same applies to driving schools, marinas and air sports. Tanning salons, massage, cosmetic and nail studios will also be allowed to open again. In the leisure sector, casinos without catering facilities will be allowed to resume operations. Music schools will be allowed to start again with restrictions. The ban on visiting hospitals will be relaxed.
May 31 (Stage 2, green): Outdoor restaurants should be allowed to open doors again before Whitsunday. Open-air excursion destinations with admission control as well as low-contact leisure activities such as miniature golf or boat rentals are to be permitted again before Whitsunday, as well as bicycle rental for tourist purposes. For permanent campers, camping sites and camper van sites will be reopened. Primary and secondary schools should only reopen gradually, if necessary.
May 31, Level 3: In a further stage before Whitsunday, the interior of restaurants are also to be opened. Childcare facilities will then be opened step by step if necessary.
As of May 31, Level 4, orange: Accommodation establishments, camping sites and caravan parks may reopen for tourist purposes. The same applies to visitor centers, leisure parks, fitness studios, dance schools, climbing gyms, indoor sports halls, indoor playgrounds. Fun and leisure pools should only be allowed to reopen for swimming courses and lessons. Relaxation is also planned for river and Lake Constance shipping.
After the Pentecost holidays in mid-June, all pupils in Baden-Württemberg should go back to school at least temporarily. Attendance classes will then be combined with learning at home, said Minister of Education Susanne Eisenmann on Wednesday. She presented a plan for the gradual opening of schools and day-care centers in corona times. Normal operation would only be possible again when distance rules no longer had to be observed. It is not yet possible to say when that will be.
Currently not assessable, Level 5, red:
This level includes the areas of everyday life with the greatest risk of infection. According to the step-by-step plan, hygiene concepts are currently being developed or tested in these areas. Stage 5 includes major events such as trade fairs, public exhibitions, public festivals, club parties and congresses. There are also still no plans to relax the interior of pubs and bars. The same applies to saunas and wellness areas and to culture: theatre, drama, ballet, concerts, opera, cinema, music festivals, film, theatre and music festivals, discos still have to wait. Concepts are also still needed for spectator visits to sporting events, for open-air swimming pools, bathing lakes, football grounds and team sports. Level 5 also includes the prostitution industry. (SWR, May 6)
Mask obligation policy makes most sense in fitness studios, gyms
“Making masks mandatory makes the most sense in fitness studios,” explains sports scientist Michael Despeghel. However, there are problems with the usual mouth and nose protection. When the gyms open again, athletes will not be able to avoid wearing masks and gloves. But there are major problems with the usual mouth and nose protection under physical stress. Dr. Michael Despeghel found this out in a test which he shows at medizinmaenner.de. In an interview with spot on news, the sports scientist explains which alternative could be available and why you should go back to the gym quickly. Despeghel said that when someone inhales and exhales, oxygen is absorbed and brought to the cells, and CO2 is released. However, this process cannot happen properly, when blocked by polyester, cotton, but also by plastics and foam. At rest, you breathe in and out about eight to twelve times and draw half a liter of air. During physical activity, this very quickly increases to 50 to 70 times, and up to two and a half liters of air are then transported back and forth. We have found out that the oxygen saturation of the blood is noticeably reduced with a mask. At rest, oxygen saturation should be 99 percent. When you put on a mask, we found that under cotton and cotton-polyester the oxygen saturation in the blood drops by about three to five percent. Among the foams used in FFP2 protective masks, for example, it is over five percent. This is already becoming really dangerous. Under stress it is absolutely necessary for the cells to get enough oxygen. The drop in oxygen saturation under the usual masks cannot be expected of anyone during physical training, it does not work. This is harmful and also uncomfortable. On showers, changing rooms and saunas, Despeghel said “These areas cannot be used. It is also likely that you will only be allowed to enter toilet facilities individually. This is of course a major obstacle. It won’t be like usual in the studios for a while.” When asked what the benefit is in going back to the gym as soon as possible? Despeghel said: “I was generally against the complete lockdown of the gyms. A lot of diseases can be prevented with working out. The immune system is the guardian of our health, as the virologists also confirm. Good physical performance also means that we need to be stronger against the virus. If you protect yourself with a mask and keep to the rules of distance and hygiene, it certainly makes sense to resume training. If I miss the load for 14 days, which I used to have regularly, it is almost as if I hadn’t trained for half a year. In a week of doing nothing, we lose 38 percent of our cardiovascular capacity and 40 percent of our maximum strength”. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 6)
Salafists are alleged to have obtained Corona emergency funds
Investigators in Berlin are on the hunt for a group of Salafists who are said to have received tens of thousands of euros in emergency corona aid. According to the Attorney General’s Office, investigators of the police state security searched the homes and vehicles of a total of five suspects from the Salafist scene this morning. The men are said to have applied for and received funds through the development bank IBB on several occasions. According to the newspaper Der Spiegel, the preliminary damage amounts to a total of 45,000 euros. During the searches, investigators also found indications of further criminal offenses according to Spiegel information. The starting point of the investigations was a search of the Berlin preacher Armad Armih (alias “Abul Baraa”) in mid-April. According to police, the former imam of a radical mosque and his wife had received 18,000 euros in emergency funds, even though the couple was on welfare. The uncovering of this case prompted the investigators to also take a look at other well-known members of the scene in connection with the corona support. (Der Spiegel, May 7)