Daily Host Nation Update December 30, 2020
Germany is currently under strict lockdown restrictions (to include curfews) until January 10.
Click here for details on how the Baden-Württemberg ordinance impacts the USAG Stuttgart community.
RKI reports more than 1000 new deaths in a day
The number of newly reported deaths related to coronavirus exceeds 1000 for the first time, reaching a new high. Within one day, German health authorities transmitted 1129 new deaths to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), according to RKI figures released this morning. In addition, 22,459 new infections were reported. Last Wednesday (Dec. 23), 24,740 new infections and the previous high of 962 deaths had been reported. The RKI had communicated before the Christmas days that the current figures were only conditionally comparable with the values of the previous week, since it counted on a lower number of tests and also fewer reports from the health offices towards the turn of the year. Nevertheless, the number of new deaths was significantly higher than a week ago. (Robert Koch Institute, December 30)
A New Years without fireworks
The turn of the year from New Year’s Eve 2020 to New Year’s Day 2021 is likely to be quieter, the night sky less colorful and glittering, but the air will be purer. Only a few rockets are likely to rise into the air. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the sale of New Year’s Eve fireworks is prohibited throughout Germany. Before Christmas, advertising brochures with fireworks offers had caused confusion. These were apparently due to the fact that the brochures had already been printed before the ban. Customers will look in vain for rockets, silver rain or other pyrotechnic articles in supermarkets. It is strictly prohibited to sell pyrotechnic articles of category F2 to private persons. Even goods of this type ordered online or by phone from German retailers before the ban may no longer be delivered to the addressees. With these rules, the German government and states are taking into account the high risk of injury. They do not want to place an even greater burden on the healthcare system as a result of people being injured on New Year’s Eve. Past experience shows that a particularly high number of accidents occur at the turn of the year.
On New Year’s Eve, the nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. also applies, the state social ministry emphasizes once again. After 8 p.m., no one is now allowed to linger in public places and streets without good reason. Stuttgart’s mayor of public order, Clemens Maier, once again issued an urgent warning: “The stricter rules on New Year’s Eve are not pleasing to anyone, but they are necessary. This is to prevent crowds and boisterous celebrations in public spaces.” He said the number of cases remains too high, the death toll is rising and hospitals are working at the limit of their capacity. “It is an act of solidarity and common sense to show moderation on New Year’s Eve this year. We all want things to be better in 2021.” The police will monitor the ban on fireworks and alcohol. (Canstatter Zeitung, December 30)
Germans doubt the Corona Warning App’s effectiveness
According to the results of a nationwide survey sponsored by B-W, 58% of Germans have not installed or activated the Corona Warning App. Thirty-three percent of non-users do not believe that the app is effective. Privacy concerns prevent 19% from using the app, and 16% do not have a smartphone that supports the app’s technical requirements. B-W Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) sees an opportunity to improve the apps functionality and make it compatible with older phones. Kretschmann believes the app will be critical to maintain a stable situation in spring and summer. Other minister presidents have also made suggestions about ways to improve the app. (SWR, December 30)
Federal Health Minister urges patience
German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn sees no possibility of ending the current lockdown in view of the continuing high corona numbers and rising death rates. “Over one thousand families will experience this New Year in mourning,” Spahn said at the joint press conference with the presidents of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, and the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Klaus Cichutek. “These numbers show how brutally this virus still strikes.” Spahn expects a quiet New Year’s Eve, he said – and also asked those willing to be vaccinated for patience. We are still very far from normality, the CDU politician said. “I don’t see how we can go back to the pre-lockdown mode in this current situation.” Even after Jan. 10, a strong reduction in contacts is needed in any case, Spahn said. On the question of opening schools and daycare centers, he referred to the federal-state consultations scheduled for Jan. 5, which he did not want to anticipate. In case of doubt, he was in favor of “rather now one week more than one week less.” The goal is to be able to deal with the infection over a longer period of time. (Ard, December 30)
Popular first names for German children
Sophia and Leon are the most popular first names in Baden-Württemberg, according to a ranking by amateur name researcher Knud Bielefeld. In the ranking published on Wednesday, they replace Emilia and Elias, last year’s leaders. They are followed by Hannah, Mia and Emma and, among boys’ names, Noah, Elias and Luca. In addition, children in the southwest are also named David, Diego, Samuel, Alessia, Chiara and Malea particularly frequently compared to other German states.
Nationwide, Mia and, for the first time, Noah are in the lead. They replace Emma, the frontrunner in 2019, and Ben: This first name had been in first place for nine years in a row. Unusual boys’ names were Jador or Stancho, and for girls Marvelous or Lönna. Knud Bielefeld has been publishing the rankings of given names since 2006. Since 1977, the German Language Society (GfdS) has also published similar statistics in the middle of the year. It identified the baby names Hanna and Noah in first place for 2019 and predicted Lena and Emil as possible top candidates for 2020. (Stuttgaer Zeitung, December 30)
The minimum wage in Germany is rising somewhat
From January 1, 2021, the statutory minimum wage will rise from the current 9.35 euros to 9.50 euros per hour. This will also apply to mini-jobs. On July 1, 2021, it is then to rise by a further 10 cents to 9.60 euros per hour. The statutory minimum wage has already applied in all sectors without exception since January 1, 2018. With the exception of a few special cases, the minimum wage applies to all employees of legal age in Germany, including pensioners, mini-jobbers and seasonal workers. The minimum wage does not apply to the long-term unemployed for the first six months in which they return to work. (Canstatter Zeitung, December 30)
Tobacco marketing ban approved for 2021
After the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament) approved the second law amending the Tobacco Products Act in September, new advertising bans will come into force at the turn of the year. Marketing in the movies will be the first to go. From New Year’s Day, a strict ban on tobacco advertising will apply to all films that children and young people up to the age of 18 are allowed to see. No more spots for cigarettes or other tobacco products will be allowed to run there. The distribution of free samples – previously a popular form of promotion, for example at concerts or in pedestrian zones – will also be banned. (Ard, December 30)
Drive-in sales at Schönbuch Brewery
The Böblingen brewery “Schönbuch Braumanufaktur” has sold around 1000 liters of beer, which would normally have been delivered to the catering trade, to end customers at a “drive-in” curbside sales service. Pia Radtke, who is responsible for field sales and gastronomy at Schönbuch Braumanufaktur, says that such a campaign cannot compensate for the losses caused by the Corona crisis. “For us, however, it is a successful marketing campaign that, among other things, draws attention to the effects of the Corona crisis on the brewing industry and the gastronomy sector. Schönbuch Braumanufaktur produces a total of 50,000 hectoliters of beer per year,” calculates master brewer Gustavo Tresselt. “Of this, 40 percent is bottled in kegs intended for the restaurant trade. “Although the Böblingen brewery has readjusted the quantities produced since the beginning of the crisis in March, says Pia Radtke. “Because brewing beer takes a certain amount of time, we have to be in advance production.” (BBheute, December 30)