Host Nation Update, Jan. 11, 2023
COVID – State of Thuringia soon to lift mask and quarantine requirement
Thuringia lifts the mask obligation in public transport as of 3 February. Also the quarantine obligation is cancelled. This was announced by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday. Thuringia the state with the lowest seven-day incidence for several days. The number of hospitalizations and the situation in the intensive care units had been stable for weeks in the low range. The state government, he said, has always promised that all protective measures will be continuously assessed for their necessity. In the meantime, the immunity of the population prevents extreme burdens on the health care system even without far-reaching protective measures. Mandatory protective measures would replace the obligation to isolate citizens who test positive. These include a general obligation to wear a mask outside of one’s own home for the duration of the illness, as well as prohibitions on entering and working in medical and nursing areas and certain communal accommodations. The new rules would be in line with those in six other German states, such as Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Protective measures for infected persons are valid for at least five days or until symptom-free for at least 48 hours. However, they end at the latest after ten days, even for symptomatic persons. After February 3, only the nationwide COVID restrictions would apply in Thuringia. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 10)
Change in Thailand – No stricter COVID entry rules after all
A few days after announcing tighter entry rules to Thailand because of China’s quarantine relaxations, the government has done a “U-turn”. Visitors from abroad would now still not have to present a vaccination card on arrival, the newspaper “Bangkok Post” quoted on Monday Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The new rules, according to which visitors would have had to provide proof of at least two vaccinations against COVID, are no longer valid. This was preceded by protests from tour operators. They had warned over the weekend that stricter entry rules would deter many holidaymakers and stand in the way of the desired recovery of the Thai tourism industry. In addition, such a sudden rule change would be harmful to Thailand’s image, the Phuket Tourism Association stressed. Background for the plans were fears about China’s opening. Thailand is expecting a large wave of travel from the country, where the virus is currently spreading massively. Thailand is an extremely popular destination for tourists from China. Beijing had announced in December an end to the quarantine requirement for travelers to the People’s Republic. On Sunday, the authorities had ended the almost three-year-long isolation. Chinese can now go on vacation abroad again. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 9)
A 81 closed between Böblingen and Sindelfingen during the weekend due to bridge demolition
The A 81 is currently being widened from four to six lanes between Böblingen-Hulb and Sindelfingen-Ost and is expected to remain so until at least 2026. Why does the A 81 have to be closed? The six-lane expansion of the A 81, including the overlay, once again needs to be temporarily closed in this section. The reason is the demolition of the northern bridge section of the Calwer Strasse crossing (K 1073) between Böblingen and Dagersheim. The planned demolition work is subject to suitable weather conditions, and information will be provided at short notice about any adjustments. When will the freeway be closed? The full closure of the A 81 will take place from Friday evening, January 13, at 10 p.m., until presumably Monday morning, January 16, at 5 a.m.. The Calwer Strasse between Böblingen and Dagersheim will be fully closed from 8 p.m. on Friday evening and will also be reopened on Monday morning. Which sections are affected exactly? In the direction of Singen, the A 81 will be closed between the Sindelfingen-Ost and Böblingen-Hulb junctions during this period. Drivers will use the signposted U 6 detour, which will lead from the Sindelfingen-Ost junction via Mahdentalstrasse and Neckarstrasse to the B 464 and finally onto the autobahn at the Böblingen-Hulb junction. In the direction of Stuttgart, the A 81 will be fully closed between the exits Böblingen-Hulb and Böblingen/Sindelfingen. Drivers will be diverted from the Böblingen-Hulb exit via Hulb, more precisely: Dornierstrasse, Hanns-Klemm-Strasse, Heinkelstrasse and Flugfeld-Allee, to the öblingen/Sindelfingen slip road. Heinkelstraße, Otto-Lilienthal-Straße and Dornierstraße will be designated as local detour routes in the area of the Calwer Straße Autobahn crossing. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 10, 2023)
Payment with EC card now possible in all buses in Stuttgart
Paying for a bus ticket with your EC card? Until now, that was not possible everywhere in Stuttgart. Now that’s changing: contactless payment is now also possible on all buses, as Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG (SSB) has now announced. “This step has become possible because the SSB has introduced a new generation of ticket printers in its buses,” it says in a statement. At the turn of the year, the last devices were installed and thus all buses are now equipped with the option of contactless payment.
What does this mean in practice? Passengers can now pay with EC or credit cards, as well as Apple and Google Pay. But those who are reluctant to pay this way need not worry. Cash can also still be used, the SSB explain. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 11)
Stuttgart’s Lord Mayor – Two years as LM – Is Frank Nopper really a “doer”?
75 seconds of his Christmas address to his Stuttgart citizens posted on the Internet on December 21, were enough for the Lord Mayor of the state capital to proclaim “confidence, hope and optimism. However, there was no time to discuss in deep the impositions that the past year brought to the people and the challenges they face in the new year. The mayor – as he had done before, for example, when picking grapes in the city vineyard or on New Year’s Eve during an informational stroll through the club scene – merely put on a quick show.
Nopper is just Nopper – a man who thinks in pictures. But Stuttgart already knew who it was going to get after the introverted Green Fritz Kuhn. So, he is not a sham.
The first quarter of his term in office in Stuttgart is now behind him. Initially, he spent about a year as an office administrator without voting rights in the city council because of lawsuits against the 2020 election for mayor. Since taking office, he has introduced himself as expected – as a spirited reader of moderately complex speeches, as a mayor who wants to be the foreman of the citizens, their giant wheel driver and beer barrel tapper. After all, also as a man who wants to drive the administration to work and to achieve results. The guardian of the city’s common good is said to have already accumulated so much overtime that he could leave office a year early.
If you want to know what was important to Nopper and what goals he saw achieved in 2022, his interpreters in the staff departments can easily and loosely fill ten A4 pages. Moreover, the political opponents in the committee see Nopper more as a brakeman than as a pusher. He delayed the decision on the earlier climate neutrality by a year because he still wanted to obtain an expert opinion. The billions for the public utilities were at best only planned, not financed in the budget. He had only pushed the knife ban after the Greens had agreed to it. It’s interesting what Nopper’s communicators deal with briefly and succinctly: Environment, social affairs, sports. And also the fight against the housing shortage. The tenor: The Rosenstein district will be fixed – if the Minister of Transport, Winfried Hermann, doesn’t get in the way with the supplementary station for Stuttgart 21. Nopper takes some things very seriously as classic tasks of the mayor – such as advancing the city’s urban development and economic development through talks with investors. This was the case, for example, with the Signa Group’s Kaufhof successor project in Eberhardstrasse, for which former business promoter Wolfgang Häfele (CDU) believed, after talks with Nopper, that he would be allowed to provide a draft for the resolution to be submitted to the city council. Nopper’s predecessor would have pulled the ripcord there at the latest. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 11)