Host Nation Update, January 7
“Offer home office wherever possible”
Labor Minister Hubertus Heil expects today’s consultations between the federal and state governments to once again provide pointers for increased home office working in Germany. “I assume that the federal government and the minister presidents will once again make it very, very clear which rules already apply and must be observed,” Heil told dpa. “This also includes the specifications on home office.” Heil recalls that the Infection Protection Act stipulates that home office must be offered and also taken advantage of where possible. (Ntv, January 7)
Seven-day incidence rises to 303.4
The incidence rate of new infections is again rising sharply in Germany. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gives the seven-day incidence in the morning at 303.4. The previous day it was 285.9, a week ago 214.9. The value quantifies the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the period of seven days. The incidence is thus again as high as last before Christmas. According to the RKI, citing data from health authorities, 56,335 new infections were recorded within 24 hours. It is already the third day in a row with more than 50,000 new infections. A week ago, there were 41,270. According to the new data, 264 deaths were recorded across Germany within 24 hours. A week ago, there were 323 deaths. (Robert Koch Institute, January 7)
Scholz remains in favor of mandatory vaccination
Chancellor Olaf Scholz continues to support the introduction of a general Corona vaccination requirement in Germany. The Chancellor’s opinion on the matter has not changed, says a government spokeswoman in Berlin. “He has indeed spoken out in favor of it and has also said that he would vote for it in the event of a vote in the Bundestag, and that has not changed.” The Bundestag is to decide on a general vaccination obligation in a free vote without factional discipline. However, there will probably not be a quick decision on this. Under discussion is initially an “orientation debate” in the Bundestag later this month. The SPD had said on Thursday that a conclusion of the legislative process would be sought “still in the first quarter”. That could theoretically be as late as March. (Ntv, January 7)
Steinmeier to hear citizens’ views on mandatory vaccination
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is hosting a debate on the “pros and cons of mandatory vaccination” at Bellevue Palace next Wednesday. The eight invited participants in the debate are citizens who had previously written to Steinmeier on the subject. According to the magazine, the meeting, which is to take place in person, will also be attended by a citizen who is an opponent of vaccination and who rejects vaccination in principle. (Spiegel, January7)
Physicians’ association warns of shortage in PCR tests
Germany’s largest doctors’ association, Marburger Bund, warns of bottlenecks in PCR tests. “The Omicron variant will also lead to more infections among employees in laboratories,” chairwoman Susanne Johna told the newspapers of Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. So it is to be expected that PCR test capacities in Germany will soon be available only on a “limited basis.” This, she said, can already be seen in other countries. “We therefore need a plan B to shorten the quarantine and isolation rules,” Johna demands and suggests: “Possible would be two antigen tests in a row, with which one can test free.”(Rdk, January 7)
Four alleged “Reich citizens” on trial in Mannheim
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the four defendants manufactured numerous weapons themselves – including a flame launcher, several handguns of their own design, and firearms. In addition, the men are said to have hoarded ammunition. Accordingly, the charges include suspicion of unlawful acquisition of ammunition.
According to the indictment, the quartet wanted to prepare themselves for the alleged “imminent collapse of the state order”. All four had an “attitude critical of the state,” the indictment says. The trial will focus, among other things, on the extent to which the defendants wanted to undermine the state order itself.
Apparently, the men belong to the so-called “Reichsbürger” scene. Two of the defendants come from the Rhine-Neckar district, and weapons and ammunition are said to have been kept in their apartments. The four men were discovered because they sold weapons to undercover investigators.
In addition, they are said to have repeatedly called for the murder of Jewish people in social networks. However, these statements are not part of the current trial. The trial is scheduled to continue until April. (SWR, January 7)
After two years of planning, the first two of five Tiny Houses are now standing in Schorndorf (Rems-Murr district). They are the first buildings of this kind on city property in the country.
The project goes back to an initiative of the municipal council in 2019. The Schorndorf city council had initially identified four areas for such micro houses. In the end, it became this area, an urban green space between a stream and a walking path, which until now was not much more than a dog litter box. Now, five Tiny Houses are to be erected here – one has already been occupied, a second has been standing since mid-December.
The chairwoman of the Tiny House Association, Regina Schleyer, lists a whole series of other places in Baden-Württemberg where Tiny House settlements are being considered – whether on the initiative of local authorities or private individuals. The problem is often the building site. This is because on conventional new building sites, the parking space for Tiny Houses would be very expensive; moreover, the space there can be used more effectively with classic houses. “In this respect, it is ideal for municipalities to offer sites themselves,” she says, referring to the Schorndorf model. (SWR, January 7)
Snow in Baden-Württemberg
The snowfalls expected for the weekend in many parts of Germany will be short-lived, according to the German Weather Service (DWD). On Saturday and Sunday, snow will still fall, sometimes heavily: “Especially in the mountainous areas, striking amounts of new snow over ten centimeters in a few hours are possible and it will be widely slippery,” said a DWD meteorologist in Offenbach on Friday. In addition, there will be a strong wind from the southwest. At the North Sea and in the mountains, stormy gusts are possible.
But by Monday at the latest, temperatures will rise again to the point where snow will only fall in the summits of the low mountain ranges and in the Alps. In the rest of Germany, it will be rather uncomfortable and wet with rain and sleet showers. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, January 7)