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CHRISTMAS

German residents told not to call police over every Covid Christmas rule break

A police union boss has encouraged people not to immediately call the police if they suspect their neighbours are holding an illegal Christmas get-together, saying that “a bit of moral courage is necessary.”

German residents told not to call police over every Covid Christmas rule break
Police on patrol. Photo: DPA

Jörg Radek, head of the GdP union, said that, if people suspect an illegal gathering, “I would first go to the neighbours myself and – if there really are too many people there – and ask them to abide by the rules.”

Rules agreed upon between Angela Merkel and state leaders last week mean that a household is allowed to meet with up to four family members from outside their home over the Christmas period. Children below the age of 14 are not included in the limitation.

READ ALSO: What exactly are Germany's Christmas celebration rules?

The exception to the normal rules – which currently allow a maximum of five people from two households to meet in private – applies from December 23rd to December 26th.

For people who are not “immediate family members” the normal lockdown rule of a maximum of five people from two households will apply throughout the festive period.

Speaking to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Radek said that “one shouldn’t always call the police immediately. The pandemic requires us all to show a bit of moral fortitude.”

Radek assured people that the police would be sensitive about carrying out their duties over Christmas.

“We will not go from house to house and count how many people are sitting at the table,” he stated. “That would be a violation of people’s constitutional right to the integrity of the home. But if we get information that the rules are being violated somewhere, we will investigate.”

The union boss said that police capacity had been freed up during the pandemic by officers not having to keep order at football matches, where violence occasionally breaks out between rival Ultra organisations

The extra capacity would now be deployed to make sure people were obeying the bans on public gatherings and to guard vaccine centres.

“We are going to have a huge operation on New Year,” Radek said. “We need to enforce the ban on public gatherings.”

Member comments

  1. This is a huge first for Germany´s “school snitch” culture, the encouraging of which enables such unnecessarily high and intrusive numbers of unimportant police and police activity: .
    Bravo! Polizei Union chief.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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