Germans have become (a bit) friendlier and more helpful during pandemic, says study

Even though some people fight over toilet paper in the supermarket and others argue on the street over face masks, social cohesion in Germany has improved during the corona pandemic, a new study claims.

Germans have become (a bit) friendlier and more helpful during pandemic, says study
People leave food at a neighbour's door in Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

Researchers at the Basel Institute of Commons and Economics, led by sociologist Alexander Dill, asked participants between May and September this year to mark on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (very high) how they rate the helpfulness or hospitality of people in their neighbourhood. 

Germans’ friendliness was rated better this year by the respondents, with 6.9 points compared to 6.6 points last year.

The social climate was also rated better with 7.1 points compared to the previous year (6.7). 

Helpfulness experienced by the respondents in everyday life also increased: from 7 in 2019 to 7.3 points this time around. 

READ ALSO: How people in Germany are showing their solidarity during the corona crisis

Germany not rated top for friendliness

However, Germany did not make it into the top 20 states in the international comparison, which is led by Thailand and Tanzania with values of around 9 points for friendliness.

Although the federal and state governments placed restrictions on personal contact in order to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the score for hospitality climbed this year from 6.2 to 6.7 points.

This backs up a trend that the Bertelsmann Stiftung identified in a representative survey last summer.

According to that survey, the proportion of people who consider social cohesion in Germany to be at risk fell from 46 percent in February this year to 36 percent in May and June. 

The Basel Institute of Commons and Economics publishes its annual World Social Capital Monitor and is registered as a partner for UN sustainability goals. 

The results of the survey are not representative, if only because of the anonymous nature of the survey, as age groups are not weighted according to their share of the population.

However, in the opinion of the researchers, the results are nevertheless meaningful, as can be seen from the usually very small deviation in the individual answers. 

Dill is a critic of international rankings that looks solely on indicators such as per capita income or infrastructure.

Brazil and India are among the countries that have improved their social climate this year according to the World Social Capital Monitor, even though they have been heavily affected by the pandemic.

SEE ALSO: Here's where Germany's happiest people live

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now