1. GA-English
  2. News

Easing up of corona restrictions: Bonn stocking up at the vaccination center and opening stores

Easing up of corona restrictions : Bonn stocking up at the vaccination center and opening stores

The city of Bonn is stocking up at the vaccination center and immunizing its school and daycare personnel starting on Monday. Retailers are preparing for “Click-and-meet”. Mayor Dörner does not want to go it alone at the municipal level.

It is not only the citizens who have problems knowing which corona rules are in effect. Bonn's Mayor Katja Dörner can understand the confusion. "It is not so easy to see straight away what rules can be relaxed, when and at which incidence value," she said at a press conference on Thursday.

So far, she said, the city's crisis team is still waiting for instructions from the state on a number of important issues - and there are many questions to which answers cannot yet be given. On the subject of vaccination, however, there is progress in Bonn, the vaccination center is steadily increasing its supply. Starting next week, immunization of teachers and child care workers will begin. All nursing home facilities are completing the second round of immunizations this week. Retailers are gearing up to let customers back into stores starting next week with online appointment scheduling.

"We are glad that the first easing of restrictions is imminent. But there is no reason for me to be euphoric," Dörner said. In her view, the number of deaths is too high. She is also concerned about the mutations: In Bonn, there are currently 201 cases with the UK variant, and two with the Brazilian variant. Since their first appearance, they have been increasing continuously, and now account for almost 27 percent of all cases.

Seven-day incidence rate is most important indicator

The most important criterion for relaxing measures is the seven-day incidence rate. Because there are usually three different values - from the city, the Robert Koch Institute and the state center for health - the state has specified that it will be guided by the latter. However, there is still no indication of which geographical data counts: the state-wide numbers or that of the municipalities. The difference this can make is already evident in Bonn.

There, the incidence rate is 46.7, which is below the important threshold of 50, while NRW-wide it is significantly higher at 62.8. "We don't have any more detailed information from the state on this yet," Dörner said. However, she does not want to rely on a municipal go-it-alone approach. "If we as a city are below 50, but the Rhein-Sieg district is above 50, then it can't be in our interest to have separate rules."

As health department head Susanne Engels explained, the trend is decisive when it comes to the incidence rate. "We pay attention to where we are coming from and where we are going," she explained. Currently, Bonn is moving toward 45, she said, which could conceivably lead to further relaxations. "However, this situation can change again very quickly if there is an outbreak.”

Crisis team leader Wolfgang Fuchs raised concerns that the incidence rate could rise in the coming weeks because significantly more testing is being done. "The likelihood of detecting more infections is quite high as a result." Changing the thresholds, he said, is an indication that people are moving away from incidence rate as the sole parameter for corona rules.

Child care workers and teachers to be vaccinated starting Monday

When it comes to vaccines, the crisis team is waiting for a new decree from the state to regulate vaccination services in primary care clinics. Currently, the city continues to expand its capacity at WCCB. In addition to the current six vaccination stations there, two are in reserve. Two more are expected to follow soon, so that about 1,000 people per day can be immunized. "If there is even more need, we have drawn up plans for 14 immunization lines," explained fire department spokesman Frank Frenser.

So far, the city has been able to handle all the appointments, and the residents have reliably kept them - even with the vaccine from AstraZeneca, which had caused cancellations in other cities. In Bonn, 5,000 vaccinations using the AstraZeneca vaccine and 2,000 with the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine are to be given in the coming week. This will also be accompanied by the first large-scale vaccinations of 7,000 child care workers and teachers starting Monday. "We are preparing to send out information to employees by tomorrow morning," Frenser said. According to that information, the city will activate a booking portal. "It's best if appointments are booked as early as possible. It makes it easier for us to plan.”

Bonn's retail sector is also relying on online appointments. "We want to activate a portal by the weekend that customers can use to make Click-and-meet appointments," says Jannis Vassiliou, head of the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg/Euskirchen retail association.

Business owners would then have to hang a QR code in the shop window that customers can scan with their cell phones. "We will offer this not only to our members, but to all businesses because we want to help. Retailers are hurting after this long period of time." Vassiliou also advises offering appointments by phone, email or messaging. Despite the low incidence rate, he does not expect stores to be allowed to open regularly starting Monday.

4,380 complaints issued for violations of corona rules

Compliance with the Corona Protection Ordinance will be upheld by the City Public Order Service. City spokeswoman Monika Hörig said checks would be carried out in the retail sector if necessary. So far, there have been only sporadic issues concerning social distance markings, disinfection facilities or exceeding the permissible number of people. At Bonn's sports facilities, on the other hand, there have been an increasing number of reports of violations in recent days.

"Due to the large number of reports and the large number of sports facilities, we react situationally in such cases. In most cases, the reported persons flee when the officers arrive, making it difficult to establish personal details due to the vastness and accessibility of the facilities," says Hörig. Preventive measures are hardly possible. Last week, 135 charges were filed. Altogether, there have been 4,380 complaints filed, with 2,880 fines issued.

(Orig. text: Nicolas Ottersbach / Translation: ck)