Local news translated – Dec 31, 2020

Daily Host Nation Update December 31, 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.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at home

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier has appealed to the common sense of citizens on New Year’s Eve in view of the Corona figures. “The faster the infection figures fall, the faster things will pick up again for our economy,” the CDU politician told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe. “We must therefore also be very careful in the next few days, and especially over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and only celebrate in the closest circle, because otherwise we will not only endanger the health of our fellow citizens, but also our economy.” (Ntv, December 31)

Hospitals call for extension of lockdown beyond Jan 10

In view of the risk of hospitals being overloaded by the Corona pandemic, the German Hospital Federation (DKG) is calling for an extension of the current lockdown beyond Jan 10th. “We continue to register an increasing occupancy of hospitals with patients who have contracted Covid-19. There are now about twice as many as in the first wave,” DKG President Gerald Gaß told RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. In addition, he said, there are between 20,000 and 25,000 patients with Covid-19 in infection wards. “The vaccinations won’t have a significant impact until mid-February. So during the next few weeks, clinics will keep having to cancel emergency care or transfer patients.” Clinics always have to deal with staff shortages, he added. But since the pandemic, “staff have had no rest at all over the holidays. Many have to go into quarantine themselves or become infected,” said Gaß. The DKG president stressed, “The contact restrictions must extend beyond 10 January. Otherwise, hospitals will be overburdened.” (Redaktionsnetzwerk, December 31)

Conspiracy theories cause “deep mistrust” among citizens

Baden-Württemberg’s President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Beate Bube has warned against the spread of corona conspiracy myths in the middle of society. “Among quite normal citizens, one encounters a deep-seated distrust of state institutions,” Bube told Der Spiegel. “For some, it becomes downright hostility toward the system as a whole.” According to the magazine, she wonders whether this is why “a kind of dropout program for conspiracy adherents” is not necessary. The State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) in Baden-Württemberg is the first in Germany to observe the “lateral thinking” movement that has emerged in Stuttgart. “One is allowed to fundamentally criticize the state measures against Corona and consider other recipes to be the better ones,” Bube said. “But those who deliberately make false claims to stir up citizens against the state are undermining democracy.” (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 31)

Berlin extends school lockdown until Jan 17

It has not yet been officially decided whether the lockdown, including school closures, will be extended across Germany beyond January 11. In Berlin, however, School Senator Sandra Scheeres already announced to several media outlets that homeschooling would be extended by at least one week. “At this point, I assume that in Berlin we will have to extend the phase of school-guided learning at home until Jan. 17,” Scheeres told the “Tagesspiegel,” among others.” Graduating classes are to be exempt. Brandenburg’s Minister President Dietmar Woidke even assumes that distance learning will be maintained in the state until the start of the winter vacations, which in Berlin and Brandenburg on during the first of February. (Focus, December 31)

Over 130,000 people vaccinated in Germany so far

More than 130,000 people in Germany have been vaccinated against the coronavirus so far. By Thursday morning, a total of 131,626 vaccinations had been reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Compared to the previous day, the number of vaccinated increased by 51,465, according to RKI data. However, the RKI emphasizes that this figure may also include subsequent reports and therefore does not reflect the number of people actually vaccinated on a given day. (Robert Koch Institute, December 31)

Nearly 3,000 police officers on New Year’s Eve duty in Berlin

The Berlin police are preparing for New Year’s Eve with a massive deployment of personnel. The deployment of 2900 officers is planned – 600 of them from other federal states, according to a police spokeswoman. The deployment is primarily about enforcing infection control by preventing crowds of people. The officers were to control the fireworks ban zones and also intervene in illegal New Year’s Eve parties. Those who violate the requirements can be fined up to 1,000 euros. (Ntv, December 31)

Police warn public of vaccination scams

The coronavirus vaccinations have barely begun and fraudsters are already sensing their chance. The NRW State Criminal Police Office is warning of criminals who could exploit the situation for their own purposes. “Such perpetrators quickly adjust to new circumstances – that can now be the vaccinations, for example,” says an LKA spokesman. So far, police are only aware of a few cases in North Rhine-Westphalia, he said. Citizens should be vigilant and alert the police if they are offered vaccines for payment on the phone, by e-mail, or even at the front door. In Bonn, for example, telephone scammers had called senior citizens several times, according to police, posing as employees of a manufacturing company to sell them a “Corona vaccine package.” According to police, there have also been similar attempts at fraud in Dortmund. (Ntv, December 31)