The epidemic rebound and the constantly changing regional regulations encourage Germans to stay at home.
With the rebound in infections, which have doubled in one week (more than 4,000 for the day of Friday), there is panic across the Rhine. “We risk losing control of the situation”, warned Lothar Wieler, the boss of the Robert-Koch Institute for Public Health Surveillance (RKI). “Do not waste all our efforts by relaxing our vigilance”, insisted Angela Merkel.
On the eve of the autumn holidays, Germany is like an anthill in which we would have put a big kick. No one knows where to go without risking a fine or, worse, being quarantined. “It’s the discord”, ironically Image, the great popular daily, by explaining to the Germans how to navigate the different regulations of the regions.
“The situation is so complicated that tourist agencies are now advising to choose Greece! It is much simpler and less risky ”, explains Aage Dünhaupt, spokesperson for the German group TUI, the largest tour operator in the world. “Politicians are prisoners of the health rules put in place in the spring, he continues. Everything must be changed. Tourism is not the cause of a rebound in infections as shown by the return of vacationers this summer. It is the big family celebrations and the watered evenings with friends that are the real contaminating spreaders. ”
“It is up to the regions to decide on measures”
Federations oblige, Germany has never succeeded in fixing restrictive measures at the national level. The rules are different by region and are currently changing every day. Nothing says that a Munich citizen who goes to Rostock today can do so in twenty-four hours. “We receive instructions from the authorities every morning”, explains Michaela Fabiny, who rents Swedish houses in the region, in Usedom, on the Baltic coast. The hotelier has just canceled 13 reservations on its 21 maisonettes, the day before the departures weekend.
But regional diversities are claimed and assumed. “The division of powers is very important and the Germans want it. This crisis will not change federalism, which also has good sides ”, insists Sabine Kropp, political scientist at the Free University of Berlin, specialist in federalism issues. In Cologne, football matches take place with 300 spectators, while in Hanover the stadium has the right to accommodate 5,000. A difference that can be felt directly in the club’s cash registers. “We cannot have the same restrictions in a large, very dense city like Berlin and on the Baltic coast where the population is very low”, insists Huberta Sasse, spokesperson for the German Tourism Federation.
The government has also refused to take responsibility for going on vacation: “It is up to the regions to decide on the measures to be taken”, summed up Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesperson. Suddenly, the situation is so confusing that you can end up being stranded in a region for several days if you do not take care to inform yourself before your departure… In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, tourists can come with a negative test certificate (less than forty-eight hours) but if they come from a risk zone, they are obliged to respect a quarantine in their room. You had to know it! “This is completely crazy. You find yourself a prisoner in your hotel ”, laments Michaela Fabiny.
Since Thursday, accommodation has been banned throughout Germany for residents coming from red zones (defined by an incidence rate exceeding 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants). “It’s no longer even worth banning the Germans from traveling. They are already so confused by all the regulations that they prefer to stay at home ”, laments Stefan Grosse, hotelier in Munich.
In total confusion, Berlin’s Lena Domröse, mother of two, canceled her departure the day before a trip just 80 kilometers from the capital. “We thought it was a safe destination for the fall, she says. Now we can’t even leave our town [en zone rouge, ndlr] ! We ended up booking a room in Berlin itself, by a lake. We can’t take it anymore. We really had to move! ”, she says.