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Merkel slams state plans to open hotels for families over Christmas

Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly slammed plans by state leaders to allow families to stay over the festive period.

Merkel slams state plans to open hotels for families over Christmas
Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

What's happening?

Contact restrictions will be relaxed over Christmas and New Year to allow for low-key celebrations in Germany.

But will people be able to travel and stay in hotels while visiting their family and friends? The federal government and states are in disagreement about this.

Currently, hotels throughout Germany are only allowed to accommodate people travelling for essential reasons such as business. That's because during the partial lockdown, which has been extended until at least December 20th, there is a ban on tourist overnight stays throughout the country.

However some states have decided to go their own way and allow relatives to stay in hotels over the festive season.

IN DETAIL: Germany extends coronavirus shutdown and tightens restrictions

 

Which states are offering hotel stays?

Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony announced they will allow hotels to open over the holiday break.

Other states are considering this move too.

READ ALSO:

What's the reaction?

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the government are not happy about this move.

Merkel warned that it risked worsening the coronavirus resurgence hitting Germany, participants in a conservative party meeting said on Monday.

According to Reuters, Merkel said she couldn't understand why states are allowing hotels to accommodate family, particularly in large cities and regions with high infection numbers.

She also criticised that state premiers had not informed her about this plan.

“Citizens remain called upon to avoid tourist trips,” said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert later on Monday. Travel for family reasons is difficult to distinguish from this, he added.

A hotel in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Seibert then referred to last Wednesday's meeting at the government and states summit – the decision did not include “private use” of hotels, he said.

Despite Merkel and the government's comments, the state leaders have the final say on what happens to hotels under the federal system.

Skiiing holidays 'could worsen situation'

Seibert also said that the German government was sticking to the goal set by Merkel of limiting the skiing season in cooperation with neighbouring countries because of the pandemic. Seibert said that the number of infections could rise again “by starting the skiing season too early”.

The closure of ski resorts is the subject of fierce debate in the EU. Austria and Switzerland want to open their slopes. Besides Germany, Italy is also in favour of closure. France does not want to ban skiing holidays, but wants to prohibit the operation of lifts.

 

Member comments

  1. Good, I hope that she is displeased. Maybe she will have some understanding that because of her policies, people are loosing their livelyhoods. Or maybe she’ll just continue on with Klaus Schwabb’s plan for us all.

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POLITICS

Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
 

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.

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