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BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG

Cats in southern German town ordered into summer lockdown

Pet owners in part of a Baden-Württemberg town have been told to keep their cats indoors until the end of August to protect endangered birds.

A cat sitting in an animal shelter in Peine, Lower Saxony.
A cat sitting in an animal shelter in Peine, Lower Saxony. Cats in one German town may have to stay indoors this summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Domestic cats in Walldorf-Süd, in the Rhine-Neckar district, won’t be able to roam and enjoy the outdoors this summer under the radical measure. 

The district office issued the order to cat owners over the weekend in a bid to protect crested larks, which are threatened with extinction.

Domestic cats in the southern part of the city are not allowed outside until the end of August 2022 – and from April to August for the next three years, reported a Stuttgart news site.

The survival of the species depends on “the survival of every single young bird”, the district said.

If a cat escapes, the owners have to report it to the authorities and try to get their pet indoors. Owners who flout the rules may face a fine up to €500.

And if a cat kills one of the six crested larks living in Walldorf, the owner can reportedly expect a fine up to €50,000.

However, the Wiesloch-Walldorf Animal Welfare Association said it would look into taking legal action against the general order, the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung reported on Wednesday.

“Please keep calm,” the association’s chairman Volker Stutz addressed the cat owners in a statement. “I assure you that we will do our best to stop this disproportionate measure.”

The crested lark is classified in the highest endangerment category on the red list for endangered species, according to the district’s notice. The bird is threatened with extinction, and last year, there were only three breeding pairs left in Walldorf, all in the south of the town.

Because the birds breed on the ground, they can often fall victim to cats. After lengthy consideration, the nature conservation authorities came to the conclusion “that preventing cats from roaming free in the danger zone” is proportionate.

The district said that because the bird is threatened with extinction “cats pose a particular threat and the measure is suitable, necessary and appropriate”.

Authorities recommend that outdoor cats be re-homed with family or friends who do not live in the affected area for the designated period, so they can get outdoors. 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Shorter work weeks, €9 tours and hitzefrei

In our weekly roundup for Germany we look at the debates around shortening the work week, tours around the country and what happens when it gets too hot.

Living in Germany: Shorter work weeks, €9 tours and hitzefrei

Is it possible to have a good work-life balance in Germany?

It’s something that most of us struggle with – how do you balance your job with having a fulfilling private life? We don’t have the answer to that unfortunately, but our story on the German debate on weekly working hours really made us think. Some other countries, such as Belgium and Iceland have taken steps towards offering employees a shorter working week. Meanwhile, the UK is carrying out a massive trial on a four-day week, with 70 companies trying out shorter working hours for six months. In Germany, things haven’t progressed that far, but it is encouraging to see that some companies are thinking about changing how we work. For instance, the Hamburg-based software firm Knowhere will let employees switch to a four-day, 32-hour work week from August for the same salary, and Vereda, a marketing firm in Munster, has already put in place the same system. 

As the world of work changes and we all strive to achieve a better balance, do you think Germany should push for a shorter working week? It certainly would be nice to celebrate Feierabend that little bit earlier. Let us know your thoughts: [email protected]

Tweet of the week

We love the idea of this tour of Germany with the €9 ticket. We’re still trying to think up ideas to add to the list…

Where is this?

To mark the summer solstice on June 21st, visitors gathered at the ring shrine (Ringheiligtum) of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt.

Photo: DPA/Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

To mark the summer solstice on June 21st, visitors gathered at the ring shrine (Ringheiligtum) of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt. The historical site dates back to the end of the Stone Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age. According to experts, our ancestors celebrated seasonal festivals here.

Did you know?

With summer in full swing, temperatures have been rising. But is it ever too hot to go to work (or school) in Germany? Actually, that can happen. As you’ll no doubt be aware, most homes and many public buildings in Germany don’t actually have air conditioning unlike other hot countries. Of course, Germany doesn’t really need air conditioning for most of the year, but in these summer months it wouldn’t go amiss. 

So if things do get unbearable, German schools and workplaces can declare hitzefrei (literally, heat free), and that means pupils or employees can take the rest of the day off due to excessive heat. However, as you’d expect there’s a few rules around this, which we’ve detailed in this article written in the heatwave of summer 2019. 

READ ALSO: 8 of the coolest places in Germany to visit on hot summer days

If you are having to go to a workplace, your employer should make sure that there are no health hazards. That could mean buying a fan for the office, blinds or giving a special clothing allowance if you’re having to work outside. The decision on getting a day off generally has to be a decision taken by your boss. On very hot days, you’ll sometimes find that cafes or shops close and leave a sign on the door that says: hitzefrei! And the rules on overheated classrooms and when to send kids home depends on the state legislation. Wherever you are during the summer we recommend you stay hydrated, get that sun cream on and wear a hat. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

This article is also sent out as a weekly newsletter just to members every Saturday. To sign up and get it straight into your inbox just go to your newsletter preferences.

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