How close are we to a riot

"Losing support from the citizens" : Revolt of the Erzgebirge mayors against a pure incidence policy

The third wave of coronavirus is picking up speed, more and more regions are exceeding the critical incidence value of 100. It seems as good as impossible that further easing will be decided with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) at the next federal-state meeting on March 22nd .

Mayors of the Erzgebirgskreis in Saxony - a hotspot in the pandemic and repeatedly a place of protests against the Corona requirements - have now turned to Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) in an open letter. The city leaders sharply criticize the state government's corona policy and in particular that certain incidence values ​​are adhered to, as the broadcaster MDR reports online.

Accordingly, the letter, which was published in the run-up to a video conference planned for Wednesday, says: “We currently have municipalities in the Erzgebirgskreis that are of a size where a positive case in seven days immediately leads to an incidence of more than 100 . “This cannot explain the sometimes considerable restrictions to the citizens, it continues.

[If you want to have all the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic live on your mobile phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]

"The complete - undifferentiated - shutdown of entire industries or areas of life over months arouses the impression of planlessness and helplessness with increasing duration." The comparability of the incidence values ​​is not possible because the test strategy has changed several times in the course of the past year argue the mayors. In the spring of 2020, only people with symptoms were tested, and in the fall, contact persons without any signs of illness were also tested. With the now broad-based tests, the additionally determined cases must be put in an appropriate ratio.

"Corona protection regulation is too complex"

Albrecht Spindler, non-party mayor of the approximately 5800 inhabitants of Jahnsdorf, told the MDR. "The regulations of the Corona Protection Ordinance are too complex. As a result, we are increasingly losing the support of the population. ”It is more and more difficult to explain the regulations when you can no longer penetrate them precisely.

Ingo Seifert (Free Voters), Mayor of Schneeberg with around 15,000 citizens, told the broadcaster: “On the one hand, they say that the number of tests has to be increased.” That inevitably brings more positive test results. “On the other hand, you stick to these fixed numbers 100, 50 and 35. They no longer fit together. ”This is moving towards a yo-yo effect, in which schools and businesses oscillate between opening and closing. "That triggers great resentment in the population."

Emergency brake applies if the incidence is over 100

The eight signing mayors had signed on behalf of all mayors of the district, said Seifert: "We think it is time to show how alarming the mood in the population is."

In view of the significantly increasing number of new infections, the federal government urged the federal states to comply with the “Corona emergency brake” and to tighten the state restrictions again if necessary. The federal-state resolution of March 3rd must be implemented, "not only in its pleasant passages, but also in its difficult ones," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday in Berlin.

High incidence in the Ore Mountains

This would mean, for example, closing the retail trade and hairdressers again if there are more than 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. Like Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony was one of the three federal states that already exceeded the limit on Wednesday with an incidence of 110. According to data compiled by the Tagesspiegel, the seven-day incidence in the Erzgebirgskreis is 162.

Saxony, with its around 4.1 million citizens, has recorded the most Covid 19 deaths nationwide with 202 per 100,000 inhabitants since the beginning of the pandemic. Thuringia follows in second place with 148. A total of 8228 people have died in Saxony as a result of a coronavirus infection. Around 204,350 people tested positive.

Kretschmer: attempt at loosening failed

Kretschmer did not let the mayor's criticism stand. In his opinion, the first attempt at loosening up the federal and state governments two weeks ago failed. "It doesn't work," he said on Wednesday morning in the video conference with around 50 local politicians from the Ore Mountains, as reported by the MDR. He referred to the increasing number of infections and that for weeks now, more and more younger patients have had to be treated in the clinics. "If we don't do anything, we'll have higher numbers again," he said.

There is no clear guide through the pandemic. Because of the spread of the British virus mutation, Saxony experiences similar things to Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic. Even small changes in the behavior of the population would immediately cause changes in the infection process, he said.

"We don't have to panic"

In the discussion with 50 mayors from the Ore Mountains, Kretschmer said that he understood the desire for more normalcy on the one hand, but that loosening on the other hand might be wrong. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Saxony has 1,300 hospital beds ready for Covid 19 patients. Of these, 1,026 are currently occupied (as of March 16).

If all 1,300 beds are full, Saxony will have to step in hard, said Kretschmer. But: “We don't have to panic, we definitely have some time to prepare things. You just have to face the situation clearly. "

Kretschmer asks the mayor for help

In any case, there could be no question of sideways movements in the number of infections in the Ore Mountains. Kretschmer campaigned for a joint effort for tests and the expansion of test centers. And he asked the mayors of the district to continue to support political decisions to combat the pandemic.

Kretschmer said: “It is very thin ice that we move on and we can break in with every step. The only reason we haven't drowned is because we're close enough to the edge. But we will not be able to cross the pond. "

Kretschmer: Listening to science more again

On Tuesday evening, Kretschmann had already pleaded to listen more to scientists again. Political decisions made little impression on the virus. "We have to get back on a scientific path as quickly as possible," said Kretschmer, according to a report by the epd news agency, at an online event on mental health in the pandemic.

On a psychological level, he sees the problem that the population feels powerless, that state measures are taking place. But what worries him is that after this crisis Germany still has to be strong enough to keep up with international competition. "After the crisis we have to work through what we have experienced," said Kretschmer.

"The allegations are gigantic"

Corona is also a very challenging time for politicians. "The allegations are gigantic, sometimes drastic in the choice of words," said the CDU politician. He was happy that decisions are made in the team and that politics can be based on scientific knowledge, he said about his own psychological stress.

Kretschmer, who has ruled the Free State since the end of 2019 with a so-called Kenya coalition together with the Greens and the SPD, has lost a lot of approval in the pandemic among the Saxons. A recent survey by the opinion research institute Civey for the “Sächsische Zeitung” shows that currently only 36.6 percent of people in the Free State are satisfied with their work, while 47.1 percent are dissatisfied. A year ago things looked different: At that time, 46.4 percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied and 28.9 percent were dissatisfied.

This is not without consequences for the values ​​of the state CDU. After a high in mid-June 2020, when it came to 41.5 percent, it plummeted to 31.2 percent now. The crash in the weeks since the beginning of February was particularly dramatic.

[All current developments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here in our news blog. We will keep you up to date on developments in Berlin in particular.]

In order to at least reduce the transmission of virus variants from neighboring countries, Saxony, Bavaria and Saarland had announced that they wanted to “vaccinate” the population in the border regions more intensively. Kretschmer had announced that the state government would receive additional vaccination doses from the EU for the Vogtland near the border. “We need a firewall.” In the Czech Republic, the virus mutant B.1.1.7 has spread very widely and has increased the incidence. According to the Tagesspiegel data, the Vogtlandkreis has the second highest seven-day incidence in Germany after Greiz in Thuringia (537), at 374.

After the open questions about the Astrazeneca vaccine, Saxony also stopped all vaccination appointments with the vaccine on Monday. “I'm counting on a quick clarification. Of course, this development throws our vaccination plans back, ”said Health Minister Petra Köpping (SPD). Since Biontech is also currently not available for initial vaccinations, all initial vaccination appointments in the vaccination centers have been canceled until further notice, according to the Red Cross.

Saxony open to Russian vaccine

This means that the corona vaccinations at 39 selected general practitioners, who initially started as a pilot project in Saxony on Monday, will not continue. The selected model practices are to function as branch offices of a vaccination center. The nationwide vaccination start for general practitioners is currently planned for the middle of April. Because this is a pilot project, Saxony can start earlier.

The Minister of Health places hope in the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, for which an application for approval has been submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). “We are open to that. Of course, like all vaccines, it has to be tested, and if it is approved, we will be happy to vaccinate this vaccine here too, ”said Köpping, according to the“ Sächsische Zeitung ”.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page