The people in Germany need patience in the corona pandemic: The federal and state governments have extended the lockdown to mid-February out of concern about the virus mutation. Schools and daycare centers should also remain closed until then, according to the decision made on Tuesday evening. But there were indications that the countries will implement this controversial decision differently.
Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) announced in the evening that primary schools and daycare centers would probably be gradually and carefully reopened from February 1st – “if the infection situation allows”. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the other hand, sharpened schools and daycare centers: in two districts with higher numbers of infections, they are only allowed to open up for emergency care. The federal and state governments had passionately discussed how to deal with schools in the hour-long meeting. Chancellor Angela Merkel said the negotiation was shaped by the question of what parents and children could be expected to do with.
Hope for “the big start” in February
Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) told the editorial network Germany: “Keeping schools and daycare centers almost completely closed is certainly one of the toughest political decisions at the beginning of this year.” But it was necessary in view of the development of the pandemic. Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey called for clear perspectives for children and parents. “As soon as the infection process allows, childcare offers must then be the first to open again,” said the SPD politician in the newspapers of the Funke media group.
The President of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” that he hoped that “the big entry will be successful again” in mid-February. The association therefore supports the decision by the federal and state governments to keep the facilities largely closed until February 14th.
In the federal-state talks, some rules were tightened. Better protective FFP2 masks or surgical masks must be worn on buses and trains as well as when shopping – everyday masks made of fabric are no longer sufficient. The Marburger Bund doctors’ association also called for further corona protective measures for old people’s and nursing homes. SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach warned the federal states to implement the Corona resolutions. “The decisions are correct without any ifs or buts,” he told the news portal t-online. “But they only work if they are controlled and implemented by the federal states.” The federal states themselves decide when the new rules apply. Several state governments will discuss this on Wednesday.
Stricter rules are also provided in the workplace. Employers must allow work from home if that is possible. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) called on employees and companies to make massive use of the new home office options. At the same time, he warned employers against arbitrarily canceling the option to work from home and announced controls. The parliamentary manager of the left-wing parliamentary group, Jan Korte, criticized that a home office obligation should have come much earlier.