GA English on Sunday News in brief from Bonn and the region

Bonn/Region. · How Bonn citizens are reacting to the new 2G regulations; Health Minister expects “sad peak” of Corona cases at Christmas; Incoming Minister of Transport rings alarm bell on travel during the holiday period; International Telekom Piano Competition started in Bonn with 2G+ or live stream. Here’s an overview of the news this week.

 Since Saturday, only vaccinated and recovered people have access to shops in North Rhine-Westphalia. The GA reports on how the new 2G regulation is being applied in the town on site in Bonn’s city centre.

Since Saturday, only vaccinated and recovered people have access to shops in North Rhine-Westphalia. The GA reports on how the new 2G regulation is being applied in the town on site in Bonn’s city centre.

Foto: Sofia Grillo

How the new 2G regulation is being applied in Bonn

Vaccination certificates were being produced all over the place on Saturday in Bonn city centre. Since December 4, new Corona rules have been in effect in NRW, and this means 2G for the retail sector. In other words, you can only enter a shop if you have proof of vaccination or recovery. The new regulation does not apply to stores for essential needs such as supermarkets, pharmacies, drugstores and filling stations.

In the Mediamarkt on Friedensplatz, two employees were working more or less non-stop to check that the shop’s customers were vaccinated or recovered. One man who could not supply a valid certificate was turned away. So far, however, only a few people have been surprised by the new regulation, an employee told the GA.

Five percent of those checked showed their vaccination card, while the vast majority had already switched to a digital version, the employee observed. This is because, "It’s much faster to check a QR code on a cell phone." This meant there were no more longer waiting times on Saturday in front of the store.

ID cards or driver’s licenses had to be shown and checked against the certificate. One couple found this to be "cumbersome."

The Corona regulation was not new at Parfümerie Vollmar in Sternstraße. They had already introduced 2G in the shop four weeks ago, reported controller Alexander Schröder (29). The decision had been accepted "relatively problem-free" by the customers. "There were only a few who complained or whom we had to turn away," said a security service employee. "People are very understanding and have been vaccinated two or three times anyway."

On one occasion, a young man tried to sneak in with a photographed ID, Schröder recounted. But when the ID was checked it immediately became clear. "Other than that, we haven't had any negative experiences."

Schröder scanned the vaccination certificate of Nadine Ihbe (23). The Bonn resident said she found the new 2G regulation in stores reasonable. "But I don't think it's okay that you have to walk around outside with a mask - that's a bit is too much," Ihbe said.

Galeria Kaufhof had reacted to the tightened regulations by closing some of its entrances. It was only possible to gain access to the department store through the doors at Münsterplatz and Remigiusstraße. Long queues tended to build up in front of these entrances, but customers were allowed in quickly once they had shown their certificates.

"Griping about the 2G check is stupid; it could have been introduced weeks ago," said Silvia Schulte-Kellinghaus as she shopped at the fashion store "Sinn". The 2G check had just gone "completely smoothly" at the entrance. "I showed my smartphone and ID card - and bang, I was inside," said Schulte-Kellinghaus, praising the concept. She wanted to continue to support retail in Bonn and not shop on the Internet.

"Sinn" employee Nathalie Zimnol (17), who checked the documents at the entrance, explained, "Sometimes people still have a piece of paper with them and then you have to look closely at the vaccine, the date of the vaccination and the number of vaccinations." Compared with the digital check, verification then needs a little more time.

In front of TK Maxx, Alex Maisinger (33) checked the people in the queue. "We work with the Covid check app and also check the photo ID," said the assistant manager. With vaccination cards, there were also a few things to keep in mind: "With Johnson and Johnson's single-agent protection, we check to make sure at least fourteen days have passed since vaccination."

For the dual vaccines, at least fourteen days also had to have passed since the last vaccination, Maisinger said. "Because it’s only then that effective protection is established." A total of seven passers-by were turned away on Saturday, he said. For the most part, however, they were understanding, he added.

In front of C&A at Sterntor, at times the queue was so long that employees had to erect additional fencing to avoid mingling with adjacent Christmas market stalls.

The 2G rule does not apply to drugstores. Shoppers were still allowed to enter both "Rossmann" and "dm" without proof of vaccination or recovery. There were no controls at the entrances to these stores.

FDP politician Volker Wissing advises staying home for Christmas

The infection rates are rising, policy makers have taken their time, but they have finally reacted. Does this mean we can look forward to a halfway normal Christmas? One of the ranks of the hitherto rather hesitant now thinks: No.

In view of the fourth Corona wave, Volker Wissing (FDP), the designated Federal Minister of Transport, is advising us to stay at home at Christmas and refrain from traveling.

"The winter of 2021 will be more dramatic than the winter of 2020. We must not take Corona lightly," he told Bild am Sonntag. "Restricting the number of people we meet, even in private, is important to combat the pandemic. As things look now, it seems more sensible to spend Christmas in a small circle at home and not plan any major trips around the country."

Brinkhaus calls for tightening

Parliamentary group leader of the CDU Ralph Brinkhaus called for further tightening of the Corona measures. "In areas with high incidences, we must also think about temporary contact restrictions for vaccinated people," the politician told the newspapers of the Funke media group. With regard to schools, he said it was up to the Minister for Education to keep them open as long as possible with mandatory masks, testing and ventilation. "But there must be no taboos for regions with very high incidences," he warned. He said he feared that recent federal and state resolutions were not enough to break the wave of infections.

The level of new infections is high, with well over 400 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week, compared with 135 this time last year. Hundreds are dying every day. On Thursday, the federal and state governments had decided on contact restrictions for the unvaccinated and stipulated that for recreational events and stores, only vaccinated and recovered people (2G) would be allowed in.

General vaccination obligation

There is also a push towards compulsory vaccination, something the German government had long ruled out. The incoming new chancellor, Olaf Scholz (SPD), has announced that the Bundestag will vote on the issue with no obligation to follow party lines. According to government spokesman Steffen Seibert, this could happen at the beginning of next year. It could then take effect in February of March. Before this can happen, the German Ethics Council will be consulted.

Council member Frauke Rostalski is against mandatory vaccinations. Germany has not yet exhausted all other instruments, the law professor explained in the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger". Such a measure could not be justified, she said, even irrespective of the individual risk of severe Covid-19 disease. The situation is different, she said, for those over 60, who make up a large proportion of Covid patients in intensive care units. "In this case it does seem to suggest itself that it is precisely these people who must be protected to make sure the health care system is not overwhelmed.”

Röttgen in favour of mandatory vaccination

CDU presidential candidate Norbert Röttgen sees it differently. "In weighing up the not inconsiderable severity of the intervention and weighing up the damage to society, it is clearly justifiable under constitutional law," he told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. He also believes that anti vaxxers and boycotters of protective measures pose a greater challenge to a cohesive society than government measures such as compulsory vaccination. "The division caused by still having a minority who can trigger a huge wave of infections that affects and limits the entire population is far more serious."

Nearly two-thirds of people in Germany support compulsory vaccination. In a survey conducted by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 63 percent were in favour of requiring everyone in Germany to be immunised against the dangerous virus. Only 30 percent are against it, while 7 percent did not specify. This means that the mood has turned since Corona vaccinations began in this country just under a year ago.

Minister of Health Spahn expects "sad peak" of Covid crisis at Christmas

In one of his last appearances, outgoing Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn called on the federal states and the government to make sure Corona regulations were consistently implemented. But difficulties loom in several places, preventing the fourth wave from being stopped.

How does the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) assess the current situation?

According to RKI head Lothar Wieler, it is almost impossible to predict where the fourth wave of the pandemic will take us. The existing measures must be implemented consistently and, above all, in the long term, Wieler stressed in Berlin on Friday. It is far too early to speak of a trend reversal or to call for milder measures, despite a slight decline in numbers in some regions, he said. "We just can't let up over the next few months," he said. The earlier we intervene, the stronger the effects and the fewer cases there will be, he said.

What development does Health Minister Jens Spahn expect?

The CDU politician expects the number of patients in intensive care to continue to rise. Speaking at what is expected to be his last press conference with RKI chief Wieler before the change of government, Spahn said that even if current measures took full effect tomorrow, the pressure on hospitals would continue to increase. Germany would clearly exceed the number of more than 5000 Covid patients in intensive care units. The situation would "reach its sad peak around Christmas," he said.

What measures will be taken immediately?

Measures will include restricting the number of participants at major events and comprehensive contact restrictions for the unvaccinated. They will also be barred from entering most stores. "We should have shown this consistency in dealing with unvaccinated citizens much earlier. Because their decision not to be vaccinated has consequences not only for themselves,” said Spahn.

What other steps could be implemented with an amendment to the Infection Protection Act?

The resolution paper from the federal and state governments envisions an amendment to the Infection Protection Act that would, for example, allow temporary closures of restaurants, especially in hotspot regions. Bans on the serving or consumption of alcohol, restrictions on gatherings or on overnight hotel stays would also be part of the adjustments.

When can an adaptation of the Infection Protection Act be expected?

It is possible that the Bundestag could pass the amendments as early as next week. Whether the Bundesrat will subsequently hold a special session on 10 December to pass the adjustments had still not been decided by Friday.

How is the vaccination campaign going?

According to Spahn, there is enough vaccine for 30 million booster shots to be given by Christmas. Ten million of the 55 million vaccinated adults have already received booster shots since the prime ministerial conference on 18 November, Spahn said. Ten million more doses have already been delivered, he said, followed next week by another ten million vaccine doses. "If we also manage to get all these doses into people’s arms, we will be giving ourselves the greatest Christmas present," Spahn said.

What difficulties are looming?

It is a logistical challenge to give 30 million jabs by the end of the year. That's why the federal and state governments also want pharmacists, dentists and other doctors to be able to vaccinate in the future. This still requires a change in the law. The German Dental Association pointed out to patients that vaccinations are not yet possible. In addition, the new Omicron variant of the virus brings uncertainties. The head of vaccine manufacturer Biontech, Ugur Sahin, believes we will need a new Covid-19 vaccine in view of the variant. Sahin expects Omicron will develop as an antibody escape variant. That means this variant could partially or completely bypass vaccine protection. This would also apply to anyone who has recovered from Covid, he said. However, according to the World Health Organization's assessment, there is no evidence so far that this adaptation is necessary.

International Telekom Piano Competition has started in Bonn

Due to the ongoing pandemic, only 17 of the originally planned 28 international contestants have arrived in Bonn for the Telekom international piano competition. You can listen to the contestants live at the Telekom Headquarters on the B9. You’ll need proof that you are vaccinated or recovered, and you’ll need a test that is not older than 24 hours. You can also follow the whole competition on a live stream. More details here.

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