We cannot and will not bring back a quarter of a million people from their holidays this summer
Germany is to be brought back to normality. For some, this is not happening fast enough. The Chancellor’s Office asks for understanding for hardships. In Berlin and Stuttgart there are demonstrations against the conditions.
Berlin (dpa) – Foreign Minister Heiko Maas calls for caution in lifting the worldwide travel warnings.
“If people cannot only fly abroad again, but also return with reasonable security, then we can gradually reduce the travel warnings”, the SPD politician told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “But there should not be any rush actions. We cannot and will not bring back a quarter of a million people from their holidays this summer.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers had agreed on extensive restrictions, including on the freedom of movement, due to the Corona pandemic in March. Some of these have since been lifted, but contact restrictions still apply. A worldwide travel warning issued by the Federal Foreign Office also continues to apply; it had been extended on Wednesday until mid-June. The summer holidays will already begin at the end of June in some federal states.
Recently, calls for a lifting of the measures or at least a concrete timetable for it had become increasingly loud, especially from industry, which fears massive damage.
Saxony-Anhalt has announced a loosening of contact restrictions for the beginning of the week. From Monday on, up to five people will be allowed to travel together, even if they do not live in the same household. Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz criticized the move. “I find it a bit strange. There was a meeting this week, there will be a meeting next week of all state premiers with the chancellor”, he told “SWR aktuell Rheinland Pfalz”. “This is a very close contact, you don’t have to step out of line in between.” In Saxony-Anhalt there are comparatively few corona cases.
In Berlin, several hundred people took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the conditions. At a similar rally in Stuttgart, according to organizers, there were even 5,000, the police did not comment on the number of participants. Similar demonstrations have recently taken place nationwide. Critics fear that conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists will take over the demonstration.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called debates about the extent of the restrictions important. “This creates the salutary compulsion for politicians to justify on a daily basis how long such measures are justifiable,” Steinmeier told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” ). He does not see these measures as a danger to democracy in Germany. Democracy is damaged where the crisis is misused to strengthen authoritarian structures. There are examples of this in Europe. “But I do not see that this concern is justified in our country.”
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer also doesn’t see fundamental rights in danger. The restrictions are indeed the deepest in the history of the Federal Republic, he wrote in a guest article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”. But they are subject to judicial control, and some measures have also been lifted – “proof that the separation of powers also works in a crisis”.
Asked about corresponding court decisions, head of the Chancellor’s Office Helge Braun told the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag”: “I understand and accept every single decision. But I do find it a challenge when courts invoke the principle of equality to repeal or modify individual measures we have taken.
Foreign Minister Maas stressed in the newspapers of the Funke Media Group that the borders in Europe should not remain closed “one day longer than necessary”. But the government must also “proceed in a controlled and coordinated manner with regard to the opening of borders, so as not to jeopardize progress in the fight against the virus, for which we have all sacrificed a part of our normal lives in recent weeks”.
However, according to Baden-Württemberg Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, the success in containing the corona virus also poses a danger. He assumes that fatigue effects will occur, the Green politician told the German Press Agency. “This is only human.” He said it was up to politicians to tirelessly point out how important it is to maintain discipline.
Meanwhile, at a party conference, the Greens adopted a plan to get the economy and society back on its feet after the crisis. At the heart of the concept is an economic stimulus package of 100 billion euros before the end of this year, which is also intended to promote environmental and climate protection, more money for the needy and parents, and a joint fund of the EU states.
Federal President Steinmeier warned that the peak of the pandemic was probably just around the corner. This would happen if infection rates increased in the poorer regions of the world, where health systems were weak. “This affects us all,” said Steinmeier. “There is no exit from the global community.”
With a view to Russia, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder also emphasized in the “Tagesspiegel” (Sunday): “Especially now, when we are facing difficult economic times due to the Corona crisis, we need more cooperation. That’s why nonsensical sanctions have to go,” the SPD politician told the newspaper at the end of the Second World War 75 years ago. Asked whether this was Europe’s answer to the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law, Schröder said: “Anyone who thinks that sanctions can be used to force Russia into anything is mistaken. No Russian president will ever return Crimea to Ukraine.”