Local news translated – Jan. 31, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Jan. 31, 2023

End of mask obligation in public transportation after almost three years

With the new COVID regulation, the mask obligation in public transportation in Baden-Wuerttemberg has been dropped since today, Tuesday, 31 January after almost three years. Also the staff at doctors’ offices/medical practices can now work again without masks. For a few more days, the state and federal governments will go their separate ways in regards to mask requirements on long distance trains: While the obligation was dropped for public transportation, masks must still be worn when travelling long-distance with Deutsche Bahn until Wednesday (February 1) inclusively.

Mask requirement on buses and trains had been in effect in Baden-Württemberg since the end of April 2020, but it was currently sufficient to recommend wearing the mouth-to-nose protection primarily in publicly accessible indoor areas and on local public transport, according to the local health ministry. The COVID regulations of the federal government are still valid until April 7, the mask requirement for patients and visitors in medical practices will also be dropped. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 31)

How much did Baden-Württemberg spend during the COVID pandemic?

The fight against COVID was expensive – not only for many companies in Baden-Württemberg, but also for the state itself. Whether for aid programs, COVID tests or for vaccination centers: The “green-black” state government needed a total of 9.3 billion euros to get through the past three years of the pandemic.

The state has spent the most on aid programs: A total of 6.4 billion euros. Of this, three billion euros went to the municipalities in Baden-Württemberg alone, the state supported public and private companies with 2.5 billion euros, and associations and other non-profit organizations received 257 million euros. All additional administrative expenses for the pandemic also represented a major cost factor: 1.6 billion went to this area. The country tried to get a grip on the pandemic with COVID tests and vaccinations – and also invested triple-digit millions for these measures: Tests and protective equipment cost 715 million euros, and the vaccination centers 571 million euros. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 31)

Annoyance over Stuttgart zero-euro ticket – City creates two-class society

The “Caritas Verband Stuttgart” criticizes that the city wants to take over the costs of 49 euro in the month completely, not only for their own coworkers in administration, own enterprises and clinical center, but also to 95 per cent for personnel of the free carriers of day cares. Municipal affiliated companies are to follow suit. Until now, the city has paid a fixed subsidy of 28.30. The zero-euro ticket could cost the city 18 million euros a year.  The Caritas Association reacted to the decision with sharp criticism. It is “almost scandalous, unacceptable and in need of change”, says Caritas director Uwe Hardt. Mayor Frank Nopper (CDU) wants to use the zero-euro ticket primarily to recruit new workers. That promotes too great of a competition on the job market. “The unanimous resolution for the ticket is therefore “extremely short-sighted and simply wrong.”  Hardt refers to the shortage of skilled workers in the social sector. In the meantime, it is hardly possible to acquire and retain personnel to provide adequate support for people in need of care in Stuttgart. With its push, the city is making a split “between those who deserve support and those for whom this is obviously not the case.” Hardt names in his letter to Nopper, the administrative and financial mayors Fabian Mayer and Thomas Fuhrmann (all CDU) as well as social mayor Alexandra Sußmann (Greens) and all faction leaders employees in care, addiction counseling, all-day schools, the accompaniment of refugees or homeless people as well as volunteers. The groups support needy people in Stuttgart, “which is the task of municipalities,” Hardt said. For them, the subsidy is “a slap in the face”.  The Caritas director accuses the city of unwillingness to face up to its responsibility. The free carriers were left alone with their problems. Now the employer city reaches into the tax casket, in order to get an advantage. “This is self-service,” Hardt said. The decision for the zero-euro ticket therefore urgently needs a correction. His demand: Employees and volunteers in social fields of work should also be able to obtain the 49-euro ticket free of charge. (Stgt Nachrichten, Jan 30)

After a three-year break – the horse market is back again in Bernhausen

On the first weekend in March, the Bernhausen horse market will be held again in Filderstadt after a three-year break – this year for the 100th time. On Saturday, among other things, the winning broodmares will be chosen and the most beautiful horse teams will be awarded at the fairground. From there, the parade will start at 2 p.m. – with horses, carriages, carriages, music and a hobby horse parade into the town center. There is also an extensive program on Sunday.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 31)