Violations of coronavirus restrictions Praise and criticism for the tough action of the Bonn city director

Bonn · The call of city director Wolfgang Fuchs to the citizens of Bonn to report violations of the ban on contact goes too far for some politicians: they fear a culture of distrust.

 Wolfgang Fuchs.

Wolfgang Fuchs.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

City director Wolfgang Fuchs (CDU) has come under criticism because on Thursday he encouraged the people of Bonn to report violations of coronavirus regulations to the city by telephone. Most of the comments on social networks criticise the director of the city as an invitation to denunciation, and draw parallels to the "Stasi" and "controlling mentality". The heads of the parliamentary groups in the city council are divided on this point.

Klaus-Peter Gilles, head of the CDU faction in the city council, backs the city director: "Everyone is currently under stress and is trying to solve the problems as best as possible", said Gilles. Of course such an appeal could be viewed critically, but it could also be said that Fuchs was just trying to consider the common good with this appeal. "In this particular situation, it is a matter of stopping people who don't want to follow the rules and thus endanger not only themselves but others as well, and not to side with them."

Critics fear a culture of mistrust

SPD faction leader Angelika Esch said: “In principle, we trust in the understanding of the people of Bonn that the measures and guidelines taken are necessary. We have also perceived this understanding in many e-mails from and telephone calls in the last few days. We consider the high fines for violations to be correct and consider it wrong to call for denunciation.” This only leads to a culture of mistrust.

Green parliamentary group spokeswoman Brigitta Poppe-Reiners said that the announcements of the city director were "a bit much", but she basically believes "that the city must impose penalties, and consistently so". She emphasises: "Human lives are at stake. Morally, the appeal can also be seen from another angle, and that is that "reporting misconduct can also take courage." The Bonn residents federation also considers the announcement to call for the help of citizens to be appropriate. "Whoever has not yet heeded the warnings cannot be helped," explained BBB faction leader Marcel Schmitt. Hans Friedrich Rosendahl (Alliance for Bonn) said that he considers the high fines imposed on companies that are currently already suffering anyway to be excessive.

For FDP council faction leader Werner Hümmrich, the current watchwords are "helpfulness, consideration and humanity.” It is "completely over the top" to now call on the population to proactively report violations. "This creates a mood of suspicion that we do not want. I find Mr. Fox’s statement out of order and inappropriate." As an example, he mentioned what would happen if two young women were watching a film in their flat and would perhaps laugh out loud. "Then, a neighbour calls the public order department because they think there's a party going on?"

Fundamental praise for the population of Bonn

"The new contact bans are justified, but at the same time they are also unprecedented encroachments on civil liberties. Apart from initial problems of getting used to the rules, I think that the people of Bonn are following them very responsibly", explained Michael Faber, chairman of the Left parliamentary group. He is also of the opinion that the city director's request to report violations went too far. "It is also incomprehensible to the Left Party why the crisis unit is not headed by the Lord Mayor, but by city director Fuchs. In this exceptional situation, I would actually expect the mayor to take responsibility as head of the city's crisis management team."

Fuchs himself told the GA that he did not want to call for the public to report when they see more than two people crossing the street together. However, he said that it was necessary to make it clear to large groups who meet in public despite the ban, that this behaviour endangers the rest of the population. Vice city spokesman Marc Hoffmann said that according to the public order service, most people were behaving prudently and with understanding. Nevertheless, after twelve initial reported complaints, 28 more had been filed by Wednesday evening. Out of these, 27 were because of unauthorised large groups of people and one because of an open retail store that had to be closed. By Thursday, the city's public order service had received 200 telephone reports of groups of people outdoors.

(Original text; Philipp Königs, translation John Chandler)

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