The secret triumph of Chancellor Angela Merkel

Rebellious country leaders slow down an overly cautious chancellor: That is the impression after the Corona summit. But it is not true. Because has achieved a lot – and is the director again.

It was around 10.45 p.m., Chancellor and Prime Ministers Markus Söder and Michael Müller had already been reporting on the results of the more than eight-hour Corona summit when the question suddenly arose: How frustrated you are, Ms. Merkel?

The Chancellor usually rejects inquiries about her state of mind. Only rarely does she reveal what is going on in public in public. But there were just a few sentences that came out of the session that sounded as if a sensible educator, after hours of persuasion, was slowly despairing of the rascal of 16 stupid children: “The announcements from us are not harsh enough to remove the mischief from us to avert, “said Merkel in the early evening to the group of prime ministers. It’s just not enough. And a bit snotty: “Then we’ll be back here in two weeks.”

If in doubt: keep working

It can be assumed that Merkel found it suboptimal that these sentences were made public. So she had to say something now. There are things with which she is satisfied. And just those that “you have to keep working on”.

Then came their decisive message, which was not only an admonition to the top politicians, but to the more than 80 million people who live in Germany: “What worries me is the exponential increase, we have to stop it, otherwise it will not happen lead to a good ending. We see that everywhere. ” You just have to look at the neighboring countries. And so that everyone really understands it, she added: “We have to stop this exponential increase: the faster the better.”

That still sounded like Merkel wasn’t really satisfied with the results. In doing so, she has achieved quite a lot: Not only that the decision sounds alarmist as she wished and that she has enforced many details. Yesterday it also became clearer than it has been in a long time that Merkel is again the director of German corona policy.

Merkel did not enforce all points, but many

It started with Merkel letting the heads of government of the countries all travel to the Chancellery after months, one could also say: quoted. That was their signal: It is so serious that digital conferences alone can no longer help.

Merkel presented the group with a more than six-page long paper that had been created in the Chancellery. The prime ministers actually do not appreciate being presented with more or less accomplished facts. It is all the more remarkable that Merkel did not enforce all points, but quite a few.

And with it a paradigm shift. In the future, there will be a three-stage system that is based solely on one key figure: Infected per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, the so-called incidence.

First escalation level

As long as the incidence is below 35, nothing changes. However, from a value of 35 restrictive measures apply. At celebrations and get-togethers, only 25 people are allowed to meet in public and 15 in private spaces. In addition, an extended mask requirement applies.

Merkel would have liked to enforce a mandatory curfew from an incidence of 35 – but that was apparently too much even for the most loyal prime minister. But Merkel has achieved one goal: earlier, much more far-reaching rules. Accordingly, she explicitly stated that she was satisfied that there were stricter contact restrictions from an incidence of 35.

Second escalation level

In addition, there is a tightening of the rules in the areas that have already been considered risk areas. So those with 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. There is now a curfew from 11 p.m. Then alcohol cannot be sold anywhere, not even in small kiosks. The mask requirement is expanded, a maximum of 10 people are allowed to meet, in private rooms they are only allowed to come from two households.

This is to contain one of the most important origins for the spread of the virus: celebrations and gatherings are considered special sources of infection. The federal and state governments also stated that from a value of 50 onwards, tracking the virus spread is hardly possible. After the Chancellor had largely left to the Prime Minister in the summer how the rules were designed in detail, there are now uniform minimum standards in Germany.

Third escalation level

Merkel’s indirect message to the hotspots is: do everything so that the increase of 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants is not significantly exceeded. Otherwise, there is a risk of even stricter measures if the increase is not stopped within ten days.

In this case, “significant consequences for the health of citizens” could be expected, according to the decision. Specifically, it was agreed: Then only five people will be allowed to meet in public space. A second, nationwide lockdown would also be conceivable, i.e. similarly tough exit restrictions as in March.

What is not enough for Merkel?

It is foreseeable that no country chief will escape the regulations that have now been passed. Further tightening are more likely than early easing. Because nobody believes that the situation will relax as quickly in the approaching winter as in spring.

So why did Merkel sound dissatisfied? What is not enough for her?

She did enforce the escalation mechanism, but Merkel would have wished for stricter restrictions. A curfew from 11 p.m. only when a region has already become a hotspot, i.e. when the situation is already out of control, actually seems a bit unambitious compared to countries like France. Nobody is allowed to leave their apartment there between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

And the Chancellor also has to accept compromises at the celebrations. NRW, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate only want to prescribe how big private parties can be in pubs – not how big they should be at home. Saxony is also sticking to an older regulation, and Lower Saxony wants to reconsider it first. This is what is stated in the declarations of the minutes, in the small print at the end of the resolution. Limiting partying at home could actually be rather tricky legally. And most importantly, difficult to control. But of course, as is so often the case in politics, it is about a signal.

At home you can celebrate as wildly as you want – that’s certainly not what Merkel wanted to express.

The greatest dispute remains unsolved

And then there is of course the ban on accommodation. It had been argued about for days before. The trouble was so great that it was now postponed. On November 8th, after the autumn break, the regulation will be reviewed. Several countries have already said goodbye to it in view of the massive criticism also from the economy. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Hamburg remained tough.

Merkel is not satisfied with the inconsistent regulation, she said very clearly at the press conference. And disagreement is also particularly significant because the ban on accommodation affects everyone, even if only one country introduces it. A ban in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania means that all travelers from hotspots in the other 15 federal states there have to show a negative corona test.

What the doctor recommends

So a success – or is it not enough? Markus Söder then put it like this: “In my opinion, it is open whether that will be enough.” In the group itself, like Merkel, he had threatened detention, according to participants: The only question was whether action would be taken in good time, “because otherwise we will be back here in ten days”.

In case of doubt, all citizens have to stick to what the doctor says. Everyone shouldn’t just ask: “What am I allowed to do now?”, Said the doctor and Chancellery chief Helge Braun on Thursday in the “ARD” morning magazine. “Basically we all have to do more and be more careful than what the prime ministers decided yesterday.”

That also means: if the citizens don’t play along, medicine will become more and more bitter.

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