Defense minister annegret kramp-karrenbauer has offered broad support for the german armed forces in gradually phasing out the coronavirus containment restrictions.
"We have a lot of heads, a lot of hands that are willing to help," kramp-karrenbauer told the german press agency in berlin. "It now depends on what the countries demand of us."The use of public health departments in the tracing of infection chains is conceivable. Soldiers could also help organize shopping when people were unable to leave their homes.
Federal and state governments have adopted drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus. Calls for relaxation are being heard from the business community in particular, but german president frank-walter steinmeier called on saturday for patience and solidarity.
The next steps are to be discussed on wednesday. At a further shift conference between chancellor angela merkel and the minister-presidents on 19. A decision is expected to be made in april on whether parts of the restrictions can be lifted or modified.
After the national academy of sciences leopoldina, a group of experts appointed by the north rhine-westphalian state government has now also presented mabgaben and proposals for relaxation. Her paper is available to the "frankfurter allgemeine sonntagszeitung" and dpa. The report states that no relaxation can be considered until it is clear that the health care system "is not likely to be overburdened" and that conditions are in place for better monitoring of the crisis. But then the return to normality "can be pushed step by step".
In an enclosed letter to chancellor angela merkel (CDU) and the heads of government of the other federal states, north rhine-westphalia’s minister president armin laschet (CDU) stressed the need for "an open, transparent debate on the way out of the crisis and a roadmap to a responsible normality. The expert paper and a study on the district of heinsberg, which was particularly affected by the corona epidemic, were to be "a contribution to the substantive basis for our joint deliberations next week". Merkel had said on thursday that in relaxing the strict rules for people and the economy, one must proceed in small steps and observe the consequences.
The 15-page paper of the NRW expert council states, among other things:
– on the MEDICAL SECTOR, the priority is to expand medical capacity as quickly as possible. Better capacity management is needed, especially for intensive care beds, with or without ventilators. These had to be recorded in real time. In addition, there is a need for better accessibility of the health authorities and a better distribution of information between them.
– on TESTS: the target was to increase the number of coronavirus tests up to 500.000 per day. To this end, a rapid development of the test infrastructure is necessary, including the involvement of other laboratories and the establishment of mobile test stations with the support of the technical relief organization, the german armed forces and the red cross. Test procedures should be extended when infrastructure is ready. People with symptoms and confirmed contacts should always be tested as a matter of principle. The chains of infection should also be traced as closely as possible.
– on schools and kindergartens: a possible path to normality could be to "gradually reopen individual areas of public life". This included schools, universities and the retail trade. In schools, for example, there should be time-shifted instruction and differences according to age. In daycare centers and in "preschool teaching", teachers who do not belong to risk groups should be the first to be employed. Childcare in daycare centers and the "(partial) opening of schools" could free up space for employed and self-employed people.
The experts assume that the old freedoms can only be regained slowly. It must be clear that there will be steps backwards. It is highly likely that the country will face a repeated increase in the number of infections. Economic activities had to be allowed again as soon as possible and as far as responsible. The paper goes on to say that "large-scale events such as bundesliga soccer matches with spectators, as well as trade fairs and congresses, will not be able to take place in the foreseeable future."
There has also been some discussion about whether the wearing of protective masks should be compulsory when masks are relaxed. Mecklenburg-western pomerania’s minister president manuela schwesig (SPD) told "bild am sonntag": "we will only be able to ramp up public life gradually. And we need additional measures such as mouth protection for everyone."
When asked in which areas the armed forces could be of particular help in the gradual transition from harsh restrictions to normal life, kramp-karrenbauer named the health care offices. There is also a kind of health office in the armed forces. "We are building strong units there for the issue of tracking infections, so that we can organize containment well – perhaps also in cooperation with an app"."A whole series of federal states are thinking about requesting soldiers as reinforcements in health care offices. The soldiers were not there to perform sovereign tasks, but to interview people on the telephone and find out who had contact with whom. "This is how we can help create as good a picture as possible," said the minister.
According to a survey conducted by the opinion research institute yougov on behalf of dpa, the majority of germans are in favor of making the wearing of masks compulsory, at least in certain places. According to the paper, 33 percent want to limit such a duty to supermarkets, as is the case in austria. A further 21 percent believe that protective masks should generally be worn in public. Only 37 percent are against mandatory protective masks, 9 percent did not specify. In austria, the government ordered the wearing of protective masks in supermarkets at the end of march. In germany, such a duty has so far only existed in the thuringian city of jena.