The problem has shifted: Infections caused by the omicron variant are increasing, and the shortage of workers is threatening the infrastructure. Politics change course.
Berlin – Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder gets his fat off in the political talk “Maybrit Illner”* on ZDF. Illner’s editorial team has put together a clip about the CSU Prime Minister’s change of pace when it comes to Corona policy, in which Söder is sometimes celebrated as the “self-proclaimed team captain of the caution team”, then appears again as a supporter of easing. “You will soon have state elections in Bavaria,” Illner notes, suggesting that this might have been the impetus for the current change of course towards “more sense of proportion”.
Even Spiegel journalist Anna Clauss, who talks about Söder in the third person, although the CSU politician is present in the studio – albeit only virtually – does not accept that as such. She calls Söder a “political chameleon” and remarks: “I was surprised when I heard the word ‘a sense of proportion’ from Mr Söder’s mouth. I was actually aware of that from Armin Laschet*.” He couldn’t put the “thumbscrews” on the voters now, according to “current polls”, according to Clauss, the governing majority of the CSU and the Free Voters would then be “gone”.
“Maybrit Illner” – these guests discussed with:
- Markus Söder (CSU) – Prime Minister of Bavaria, switched on
- Franziska Giffey (SPD) – Governing Mayor of Berlin
- Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit – University teacher at the University of Hamburg
- Prof. Clemens Wendtner – Chief Physician at the Munich Clinic Schwabing
- Anna Clauss – Co-Head of Department Opinion and Debate in the Bavarian Office of the Spiegel
“Nice that you are making so much effort with me to show supposed contradictions,” Söder cannot resist a sardonic comment on the accusation and fends it off. „It’s not about the election campaign,” said Söder, one always only reacted to the “recommendations of the experts”. The Prime Minister also does not want to accept the “criticism from the sidelines”, said Söder* in the direction of journalist Clauss, and justifies his course with the characteristics of the new Omikron variant: “We cannot react here by blocking alone. We need to find a breathing system.”
Söder and Giffey agree on the “introduction of a general obligation to vaccinate”.
Söder surprisingly gets support from Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey, who has been in office since autumn. The SPD politician and the CSU colleague not only agree on general vaccination requirements (Söder and Giffey are in favor of an introduction) – Giffey also advocates a “targeted” course in view of the massive incidences in the capital, which the vulnerable groups in mind. “Lockdown can’t be the answer,” agrees Giffey. That would not justify the much milder course of the disease.
Giffey does not deny the allegation of a lack of PCR tests and the largely abandoned contact tracing of the health authorities and the review of quarantine measures and requirements by security services. The problem has shifted: The “maintenance of the critical infrastructure” is now the “central problem” due to the many failures due to infection and quarantine requirements and the question of how this “is maintained”.
Giffey bitingly notes in a clearly irritated voice: “There is another team in the whole game, the ‘Team Know-It-All'”, says the mayor. These are the ones “who always say afterwards: ‘Did you do it wrong'”. Söder agrees and later adds: “By not discussing ideologically who is the libertarian, the freer, who is the stricter, but by following the scientific recommendations relatively consistently.” And Corona expert Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit adds, if so, then there should actually only be one team: “Team Germany”.
Giffey never wants to lock down schools and daycare centers again “that did something to the children”
Above all, it is important to Giffey that schools and daycare centers never have to be closed again and she makes it clear: “I will – to the last – do everything to ensure that we don’t do it again in Berlin” after she saw it what “the lockdown has done to the children”. On the other hand, the two politicians in the group criticized the Robert Koch Institute. The sudden announcement that the status of those who had recovered was to be reduced to three months “surprised us all a bit”, admits Söder and points out that this circumstance “poses a completely new situation to many people who have recovered”, but also raises difficulties, since some are now ad hoc theirs Lose 2G status, which is a problem especially for commuters.
All the talk guests at the table agree that the days of the pandemic are numbered – albeit with different dates. The most cautious is the Munich chief physician Prof. Clemens Wendtner, who calls the end of 2022 and warns caution: The “full force” of the omicron wave will not reach Germany until February.
Söder is also confident: he would not “promise” it now, but it is “to be hoped” that “with Omikron the transition to an endemic situation is just around the corner”. Corona expert Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit is more optimistic, for him the “final phase of the pandemic” has already begun. He is much more concerned with the question of which measures must be continued after the “omicron wave” and sees it as dependent on the status of the immunized. Giffey gives an outlook on what the future could look like in this regard: shorter quarantine rules, a change in contact tracing to selected areas and a new PCR test strategy with a focus on vulnerable groups.
Conclusion of the “Maybrit Illner” talk
And another update about Corona. For the politicians, this was no fun event, there was not a hair that went unnoticed in the soup. Or was it already the needle in the haystack? As Giffey said on the show: The criticism of politics would come quickly, but the fact is: Thousands of lives have been saved by vaccinations and the measures. Sometimes it’s all a matter of perspective. (Verena Schulemann)