Local news translated – Dec 18, 2020

Daily Host Nation Update December 18, 2020 

Germany is under strict lockdown restrictions (to include curfews) from now until January 10.
Click here for details on how the ordinance impacts the USAG Stuttgart community.

Corona restrictions to last beyond January 10 likely

The lockdown initially imposed until January 10 may not be enough, according to Saarland Premier Tobias Hans. The CDU politician says that people in Germany will still have to prepare for consistently tough restrictions for the period of time beyond that because of the negative impact on infections levels brought on by Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. (Ntv, December 18)

“Vaccination is the way out of the pandemic”

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn appeals to Germans’ willingness to vaccinate. “Vaccination is the way out of the pandemic,” says the CDU politician on ZDF. At the same time, he appeals for understanding that not everyone could get a vaccination immediately. “We are now starting with the over-80s, the very elderly, those in need of care and those who care for and look after them.” This group is already so large, he said, that this will shape vaccination activity in Germany in the coming weeks. The first thing to do, he said, is to protect those who are particularly vulnerable in a community effort. “Everyone else, I just have to continue to ask for patience,” the CDU politician said. “We’ll start first with those who are particularly at risk.” (ZDF. December 18)

Canary Islands popular with German holidaymakers in the red again

The Federal Government has classified the Canary Islands popular with German holidaymakers again as a corona risk area. The Robert Koch Institute announced on Friday on its website that the whole of Spain is on the risk list as of Sunday, December 20th. (Canstatter Zeitung, December 18)

Non-Corona News

Volkswagen recalls thousands of new cars

Volkswagen has to recall thousands of new cars because of a problem with the brake pedals. The recall involves around 38,100 Golf, Tiguan, Touran and T-Roc models from the 2020 model year, worldwide. So far, however, no damage or accidents have been reported, a group spokesman explained when asked. Internal checks have revealed that the pedal plate, on which the driver’s foot rests when braking, can become deformed or even detached under certain circumstances. Automatic cars and left-hand drive cars are affected, he said. “We are recalling the vehicles to check this and repair them if necessary,” Wolfsburg said. The recall action is now ongoing, it said, and the owners’ data will be requested from the Federal Motor Transport Authority. The Flensburg authority is monitoring the process, citing a “faulty welded joint” as a risk factor for the possible detachment of the pedal plate. (Canstatter Zeitung, December 18)

Meteorologists hold out hope for a white Christmas

A White Christmas  could be a reality this year for some regions of Germany. Especially in the pre-Alps and in the mountainous regions, the chances are quite high, according to the German Weather Service (DWD). This is because the snow line is expected to be between 400 and 600 meters there on the holidays. However, “In all other areas, the signs are rather on wet-cold weather,” said a DWD meteorologist on Friday in Offenbach. Where exactly sledding and snowball fights will be possible is currently still unclear. This is because a powerful high-pressure area is first building up over the North Atlantic, on the eastern side of which the flow over Western and Central Europe will turn to the northwest in the course of the coming week. This may bring polar air to the south. Before the cold air reaches Germany, however, it must cross the North Sea – where it warms up. “From the current point of view, this prevents a winter onset as far as the lowlands,” the meteorologist said.\In the coming days, therefore, according to the data, a combination of cloudy foggy weather and some sunny stretches will continue to prevail. At the same time, it will be locally comparatively mild with up to 15 degrees on Sunday. (Canstatter Zeitung, December 18)

Oldest fossil python discovered in Messel Pit World Heritage Site

The oldest known fossils of a python species have been discovered in the Messel Pit Unesco World Heritage Site in southern Hesse. According to researchers from the Senckenberg Nature Research Society in Frankfurt and the University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the snakes are around 47 million years old. “Messelopython freyi” The discovery of the fossilized skeletons, which are about one meter long and almost completely preserved, suggests that the giant snakes originated in Europe, the Senckenberg Society said. The new python species “Messelopython freyi” is named after the place of discovery and the paleontologist Eberhard Frey of the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe. The Messel Pit site, described by the German Unesco Commission as a “window to prehistory,” has been a World Heritage Site for 25 years. The finds, which have been pressed into and preserved in the oil shale, show what the world looked like millions of years ago in what was then a tropical region. With several tens of thousands of fossils now found, scientists can paint a relatively accurate picture of the living world and climate at that time. (Canstatter Zeitung, December 18)

Cologne residents to blink lights on New Year’s Eve

In Cologne, citizens plan to blink their lights on and off on New Year’s Eve instead of sending countless rockets into the sky. On Friday, the advertising campaign for the action was launched with the motto: “Light on. Year off”, people are to turn the lights on and off again at home for five minutes at 0:00. According to the city, Cologne residents are being called upon via posters, advertisements, online advertising and social media to also colorfully stick on or paint their windows. The campaign will be explained on the website silvesterfenster.koeln and via social media under the hashtag #silvesterfenster from Friday. (Canstatter zeitung, December 18)