Local news translated – Dec 21, 2020

Daily Host Nation Update December 21, 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.

WHO calls for greater vigilance as virus mutation spreads

Outside the UK, ten cases of the virus mutation, which is said to be significantly more contagious than the previous virus, have been reported in the EU so far. Virus mutations had been reported from there that had not yet been detected in Germany. The World Health Organization (WHO) called on its European member states to tighten their Corona measures in light of the new variant. “In Europe, where transmission is high and widespread, countries need to strengthen their control and prevention measures,” a WHO-Europe spokeswoman said. (Ntv, December 20)

EU heads of state discuss measures for containing new variant

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are initiating Europe-wide action to restrict travel to and from Great Britain in light of the new more contagious virus strain. Flights from Britain to Germany are largely being halted to protect against a new version of the coronavirus. Landings from there will be banned from midnight, according to an order issued by the German Transport Ministry on Sunday. Details to work out in addition to air travel restrictions is traffic through the Eurotunnel and maritime traffic. Currently only unaccompanied cargo traffic is authorized. (Tagesschau, December 20)

Germany records worst pandemic week to date

In the past week, the number of recorded coronavirus cases in Germany has reached a new high. In total, the authorities of the federal states reported a total of 175,314 infections. The total number of laboratory-confirmed infections has thus exceeded the threshold of 1.5 million cases since the start of the pandemic in Germany. The number of reported deaths is also on the rise: last week, state authorities recorded a total of 4,303 deaths related to Covid-19, by far the highest weekly increase ever recorded in Germany. The week before, there were 3,050 reported deaths. (Ntv, December 21)

Deutsche Bahn expects trains to be fuller during Christmas

Deutsche Bahn expects its trains to be somewhat fuller again at Christmas. However, according to forecasts, there are still likely to be significantly fewer passengers traveling than usual for the holidays. “For Christmas travel, we are currently assuming an average load factor of around 35 to 40 percent,” a spokeswoman announced on Sunday. “At peak, the load factor can be around 60 percent on individual sections,” the spokeswoman explained. In past years, she said, the load factor at Christmas has averaged 70 percent and peaked at up to 100 percent. (Stuttgart Nachrichten, December 20)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) expects lockdown to last until the end of January – at least

The second wave of the Corona pandemic and the accompanying hard lockdown will cause the economy to collapse in the winter, according to DIW forecasts. In the final quarter of 2020, gross domestic product will probably shrink by just under one percent, and in the first quarter of 2021 the decline is likely to be even significantly higher, predicts the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). “Even though it is painful, we will probably have to hold out the hard lockdown until at least the end of January,” said DIW economic research head Claus Michelsen. Only if the situation calms down significantly can the economy return to its recovery path from February onwards, he added. (Handelsblatt, December 21)

Police breaks up illegal party with 18 guests

Because of violation of the Corona rules, the police in Filderstadt (Esslingen district) broke up a party with 18 guests on Sunday night. Patrol officers had heard party noises in the industrial area. The officers noticed lights, music and voices outside a building. Thereupon they called reinforcement, opened the door and searched the building. Individual guests hid in a storeroom or in a roof shelter. The party guests, who were between 16 and 20 years old, as well as the host, were escorted outside, where the minors had to wait for their parents. According to the police, all those involved will be fined. (Swr, December 20)

Non-Corona News

Would be thieves blow up an ATM

Two unknown perpetrators blew up an ATM in Stuttgart-Feuerbach, but the would-be robbers did not make off with any cash. The machine was heavily damaged, a police spokesman said. The duo fled by car and are still at large. (Swr, December 19)

Pizza delivery man robbed a gunpoint

Two unknown men attacked a pizza delivery man in the Karlsruhe district on Sunday. The delivery man was about to put his transport box back into his car when he was clutched from behind. Robbers threatened a pizza delivery man in Ettlingen (Karlsruhe district) with a pistol and a knife – and took around 250 euros. The duo fled and are still at large. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 21)

House fire injures one and causes 50,000 euros in property damage

On Sunday evening, a fire in Stuttgart-Möhringen called the fire department on the scene. At around 10:19 p.m., the fire was extinguished; the post-extinguishing work lasted until around 11:30 p.m.. The fire area was checked with a thermal imaging camera for residual embers and these were extinguished. The building was then cleared of smoke with a high-performance ventilator. The apartment is uninhabitable. However, the other residents were able to return to their apartments. One injured person is believed to have suffered smoke inhalation. The property damage is estimated at around 50,000 euros. The cause of the fire is still unclear. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 21)

Saturn and Jupiter – closer than ever before

For many months, the two large and bright planets Jupiter and Saturn have been visible in the evening sky and are getting closer and closer. Today Jupiter passes Saturn with a distance of only six arc minutes – at best a very thin crescent moon would fit in between. The two planets are very, very rarely seen this close together – the next time will be in 2080. Since the planets in the solar system orbit around the sun at different speeds, they also overtake each other again and again, quite regularly. Jupiter needs twelve years to circle the sun once, while Saturn needs thirty years. Thus Saturn, if Jupiter has completed a round, has moved on on its own course a whole piece. Every 20 years Jupiter catches up with Saturn and overtakes it again on the inner orbit. The last time this happened was on May 31, 2000, and the next one after 2020 will occur on October 31, 2040. But both times with a much larger distance than this time. (Ard, December 21)