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MUSIC

Bavarian mayor brings hills alive with sound of music

A town mayor in Bavaria has decided to complement her rising career as a politician - by embarking on a pop career.

Bavarian mayor brings hills alive with sound of music
Josefa Schmid. Photo: Private

They are not career paths that one would immediately think have a huge amount of overlap.

It is hard to image Angela Merkel ditching the Kanzleramt to take on Schlager star Helene Fischer in the German pop charts (although the idea of Sigmar Gabriel as a baritone in a Milanese opera house is perhaps less of a leap.)

But one Bavarian mayor hasn’t let this stop her, and has bravely embarked on a side-career as a pop singer, releasing her latest single Mein Lied (My Song) at the start of the year.

Since 2008 Josefa Schmid has been mayor of Kollnburg, a tiny hillside community of 3,000 inhabitants 40 kilometres from the Czech border.

But while she took the decision to go into a profession that would give her a secure future – she studied law at the university of Passau – music was always Schmid’s inspiration.

When she released her first single in 2012 a cover of ‘Weilst a Herz hat wia a Bergwerk’ (Because you’ve got a heart like a mine), the 42-year-old stuck with traditional Alpine music.

But, in the years since, her tastes have grown more international, marking her latest ballad with influences from a much more contemporary artist.

“At the moment I’m really into Adele,” she told The Local, explaining what she likes as “the way she is melancholic, that she doesn’t necessarily give off a good mood, but is at the same time authentic.”

'Music gives us strength'

But Mein Lied is much more optimistic.

Schmid describes it as “a tribute to music and the happiness it can bring into our lives.”

She also sees it as a message in these times of anxiety that it is important to keep things in balance.

“Sometimes it seems like all you hear about is the refugee crisis – and there are these increasing right-wing voices. This song is telling people to be more relaxed.

“Music gives us strength, we need it to stay happy – it works against the evil in us.”

She also mentions that her lyrics contain an important message about equality.

“There is a line that says that ‘from baker to mayor you don’t need to be a singer to sing this song’ and that’s a way of saying we’re all equal.”

At the moment her songs have only been released as singles via YouTube. But Schmidt has high hopes of winning a contract with a major record label and then releasing a complete album.

Combining careers

But does it conflict with her more important work as mayor?

Schmid doesn’t think so.

She points out that politicians have had other passions in the past outside their jobs. The only thing that makes her stand out is that she is perhaps the first to try and become a pop singer.

Her political position is also a voluntary position, and she says that the people of Kollnburg are content with her following her passion, as long as she continues to do a good job for the community.

She also keeps a strict separation between her two career paths.

Although she is not up for election again until 2020 she says she has no plans to sing on the campaign trail, preferring to stick to “speeches with content.”

Not that there aren’t perks for the people of the Bavarian town.

“If one of the people in the community is celebrating a big occasion, like an 80th birthday, I’ll come down with an instrument and sing a song for them – that’s a time when I would use it,” she says.

Schmid has big plans as a politician too. In the short term she wants to ensure that there are jobs there for the people of Kollnburg and that young people can afford to bring up families there.

But she also concedes she is receptive to opportunities that would take her further from her idyllic east Bavarian home.

She has already been a candidate for the Bavarian state parliament, but her party, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) never crossed the 5 percent threshold necessary to send representatives.

And if there comes a time when she has to decide between music and politics?

She’s leaving that open. All she’ll say is if she has to choose one as her main career, she still leave a bit of her heart open for the other.

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BAVARIA

Bar closures and no Christmas markets: How Bavaria is tightening Covid rules

Bavaria will order the closure of all bars and clubs as part of sweeping new restrictions to try and control the Covid spread and ease overrun hospitals. Here's a look at what's planned.

Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich.
Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

On Friday Bavarian state leader Markus Söder announced more tough restrictions to deal with spiralling Covid infections and packed intensive care units.

“The corona drama continues,” said Söder after the cabinet meeting, adding that 90 percent of Covid patients in state hospitals are unvaccinated. “Being unvaccinated is a real risk.”

Bavaria has a vaccination rate of 65.9 percent – lower than the nationwide rate of almost 68 percent.

READ ALSO: Bavaria cancels all Christmas markets in Covid surge

Söder said the state’s Covid package was about “blocking, braking and boosting”, adding that vaccination centres will be ramped up. 

“We must act,” he said. “Bavaria is exhausting almost all legal means until December 15th.”

Earlier this week, Bavaria introduced a state-wide 2G rule, meaning only vaccinated people (geimpft) and people who’ve recovered from Covid (genesen) can enter many public spaces. People who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to get it are excluded. 

Here’s an overview of the planned restrictions set to come in on Wednesday, as reported by local broadcaster BR24. 

Bars, clubs and restaurant curfew

From Wednesday, and for three weeks, all nightlife like clubs, discos, bars, pubs and brothels in Bavaria are set to close their doors. Restaurants will have to shut at 10pm. So planned Christmas nights out will likely need to be cancelled or postponed. 

Christmas markets

There will be no Christmas or Christkindl markets in Bavaria this year. In the past days, several cities had announced that they would not be holding these events this year due to the Covid situation. 

Contact restrictions on the unvaccinated

Söder announced new restrictions on the number of people those who are not inoculated can socialise with. A maximum of five unvaccinated people will be allowed to meet, from two different households. Children under 12 will not be included in the total, as well as vaccinated or people who’ve recovered from Covid.

Cultural and sporting events

All cultural and sporting events can only take place with significantly reduced spectators. At theatres, opera performances, sporting events, in leisure centres and at trade fairs, there will be a 25-percent capacity limit. The 2G plus rule also applies. This means that only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter (not the unvaccinated) – and only with a negative rapid test. Masks are compulsory everywhere.

Universities, driving schools, close-body services: 2G plus

All universities, driving schools, adult education centres and music schools will only be open to those who have been vaccinated and have recovered – making it 2G. This rule also applies to body-related services, like hairdressers and beauty salons. Only medical, therapeutic and nursing services are exempt from the 2G rule. So unvaccinated people can still go to the doctor or receive a medical procedure. 

KEY POINTS: Germany finalises new Covid restrictions for winter

Shops

Shops remain exempt from 2G rules, meaning unvaccinated people can visit them. However, there is to be limits on capacity. This means that fewer customers are allowed into a shop at the same time.

Special rules for hotspots

Currently, the incidence in eight Bavarian districts is above 1,000 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. Here and in all other regions where the incidence goes above this number, public life is to be shut down as far as possible.

This means that restaurants, hotels and all sports and cultural venues will have to close. Hairdressers and other body-related service providers will also not be allowed to open for three weeks, and events will also have to be cancelled. Universities will only be allowed to offer digital teaching. Shops will remain open, but there must be 20 square metres of space per customer. This means that only half as many customers as in other regions are allowed in a shop.

If the incidence falls below 1,000 for at least five days, the rules are lifted.

Schools and daycare

Throughout Bavaria, schools and daycare centres are to remain open. However, there will be regular Covid testing. Children and young people have to continue to wear a face mask during lessons, including school sports, unless they are exercising outside. 

Bavaria is expected to approve the measures on Tuesday and they will be in force until at least December 15th. We’ll keep you updated if there are any changes. 

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