Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Freiburg's Corona History

Red Baron's passage of time has changed in times of Corona. Many atavistic markers suddenly became lost. What day is it today? This was a continued question. Now we are living a new normal in Germany. It is time to review the past months.

How and when did the Sars-CoV-2 virus arrive at Freiburg? In trying to get a clear picture for myself, I suddenly had all the material for a relevant blog.

February 27 The Coronavirus reaches southern Baden. Three people are infected, two women from the Breisgau Hochschwarzwald district and one man from the city of Freiburg.

They belonged to a group of business travelers who attended a meeting of the US American biotech company Thermo Fischer Scientific in Munich.

The company closes its Freiburg branch on this very day.

Initial Corona instructions (©BZ)

In the meantime, the authorities are asking people to refrain from visiting patients due to the increase in hospital infections.

March 6 More and more trips to Freiburg are canceled. Shop owners become worried.

One lonely bus on Freiburg's coach parking (©BZ)
March 7 SC Freiburg plays its soccer match against Union Berlin at the Dreisam stadium. One week later, the Bundesliga season is suspended.

There is a growing number of Covid-19 cases in southern Alsace. People became infected during a week of fasting at the Protestant free church "Porte ouverte chrétienne" in Mulhouse-Bourtzwiller in mid-February.

Several hundred to more than 2000 people from all over France, from French overseas territories and, according to information from the community, also from Switzerland and Germany, took part in the meeting of the Free Church "Open Christian Doors," which lasted several days.

In Switzerland, the meeting is regarded as the starting point for many Corona infections.

March 9 The University Hospital of Freiburg reports that a patient has probably been infected with the Coronavirus by a visitor. As a consequence, 30 employees of the university hospital are quarantined at home.

March 10 The city of Freiburg banns mass events and hence also the concert by the German rock group Annen May Kantereit in the Sick-Arena.

March 11 The Robert-Koch-Institute declares the French region of Grand Est (Alsace, Lorraine, and Champagne-Ardenne), a Corona risk area.

March 13 Baden-Württemberg issues a ban on visiting hospitals and nursing homes. On the same date, the state decides to close kindergartens and schools from March 17.
Freiburg's Albert-Ludwigs University suspends teaching until April 19.
The UB (university library) is closed.

March 14 In Freiburg, all events and meetings with more than 50 people are prohibited.

March 15 On this date 99 persons are infected in Freiburg and the surounding district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald.

March 16 The borders with France and Switzerland are partially closed. Travelers without a valid reason (no shopping) are no longer allowed to enter and leave the country.

Europe's new common motto (©Stuttmann/BZ)
Footpath between Germany and Switzerland
crossing the Rhine River at Rheinfelden (©BZ)
March 17 The Auswärtige Amt (Foreign Office) issues a global travel warning. Planes are grounded.

In France, the situation becomes worse. President Macron imposes a 14-day curfew throughout France.

Deserted Minster square in Strasbourg (©afp)
March 18 Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the Nation on television, asking people to observe the distance and hygienic rules in times of Corona.

Panic buying: It's empty!!! -- Above all, no panic!! (©Stuttmann/BZ)
March 19 Given the dramatic situation in the Grand Est region with 61 deaths due to Covid-19 Mayor Martin Horn decreed for FreiburgFrom March 21 to April 3, residents are allowed to leave their houses or apartments only for urgent matters. Those who wish to stay outside may do so only alone, in pairs, or with persons who live in their own household. This is mandatory for all public places, i.e., parks, squares, and ... streets. A minimum distance of 1.50 meters must be kept from all other persons. One may, however, continue to go to work or to the doctor as well as shopping for food.

Mayor Martin Horn in the evening news on German television
Freiburg's Rathausplatz in the morning of March 19
March 20 Baden-Wuerttemberg follows Martin Horn's direction. Minister-President Kretschmann (Greens) issues a regulation: The formation of groups of more than three people is no longer allowed in public. There are exceptions for families and persons living together. Individuals and small groups can continue to move without restriction. Besides, all shops that do not serve the urgent needs of the citizens must close. Museums, theatres, cinemas, later fitness studios, libraries, and elementary schools are closed. Church services, as well as club meetings, are forbidden: Sports fields are closed, games and matches are forbidden in Baden-Württemberg.

Square of the Old Synagogue in Freiburg (©BZ)
The corona crisis in Alsace is dramatic. The hospitals can no longer ventilate all patients. Seven patients severely ill with COVID-19 are brought to Baden-Wuerttemberg, where there are still enough respirators.

March 21 The exit restrictions are in force in Freiburg: For two weeks, citizens are to leave the house only for urgent matters. Public places may not be entered. Stays outside are only possible alone, in pairs, or for people from the same household.

Freiburg's deserted food market (©BZ)
March 22 Chancellor Angela Merkel makes the following statement valid for Germany on national television:

1: Citizens are urged to reduce contact with other people outside the members of their own household to an absolutely necessary minimum.

2: In public, wherever possible, a minimum distance of at least 1.5 meters, or better still 2 meters, must be kept from people other than those mentioned in the first paragraph. This distance rule must be observed. At a certain distance, the risk of infection is reduced to almost zero. Whether you stand half a meter apart or 1.5 meters makes a huge difference (Being a physicist, she knows the inverse square root law well).

3: It is only allowed to stay in public spaces alone or with one other person not living in the household or in the circle of members of one's own family.

4: The way to work, emergency care, shopping, visits to the doctor, participation in essential meetings, necessary appointments and examinations, help for others, individual sports, and exercise in the fresh air as well as other essential activities remain, of course possible.

5: Given the seriousness of the situation in our country, groups of people celebrating in public places, in homes and private institutions, are unacceptable. Violations of the contact restrictions should be monitored by the regulatory authorities, and the police and sanctions should be imposed in the event of infringements (Angela is careful using "should" for the police authority is with the German Länder).

6: In Addition to pubs and restaurants, catering establishments will be closed. This does not include the delivery and collection of takeaway food for consumption at home.

7: Personal hygiene service providers such as hairdressers, beauty salons, massage parlors, tattoo studios, and similar establishments will be closed because physical proximity is essential in these cases. Medically necessary treatments remain possible.

8: It is essential to comply with hygiene regulations and implement effective protective measures for employees and visitors.

9: These measures should be valid for at least two weeks.

Mother of the Nation (©ARD)
March 23 After six years without new debts, the black zero in the federal budget is falling. The cabinet approves a supplementary budget with a new deficit of 156 billion euros, With this unprecedented aid package, the federal government is supporting families, tenants, employees, the self-employed and businesses in the Corona crisis.

The cabinet decides on several large protective financial umbrellas and necessary extensive legal changes too.

To ensure that the aid arrives quickly, the Bundestag (parliament) is to approve the package in a fast-track procedure on March 25 and the Bundesrat (senate) on March 27.

Drown them ruthlessly in money (©Stuttmann/BZ)
March 25
Deserted Talstraße 
Through-out April Because for some people the Corona restrictions go too far, there are demonstrations in South Baden and all over Germany where conspiracy theories are being spread. Radicals use the "demos" to raise the spirits for their political ideas.

Demonstrators at Freiburg's Rathausplatz (©BZ)
April 2 Freiburg being a hotspot?

No April fool; Corona cases per 100,000 inhabitants (©BZ)
April 16 All events of Freiburg's Stadtjubiläum (900 years Freiburg) are suspended until September 17.

Freiburg sticks togethet
April 20 After a month of standstill, many shops reopen. Small and medium-sized businesses are allowed to receive customers again. Distances shall be observed; mouth-nose-covers should be used.

April 24 Baden-Württemberg's Minister for the Interior Thomas Strobl and the president of the French regional government Jean Rottner agree that families may see each other again across the border.

April 27 The compulsory wearing of masks begins in Baden-Württemberg. People must cover their mouths and noses in public transport, and when shopping.

May 4 Hairdressers are allowed to open again under special hygienic conditions.

May 6Playgrounds in Freiburg open as well as zoos and museums.

May 16 The Bundesliga season continues with ghost games, i.e., the clubs are allowed to play soccer in front of empty stands.

May 18 Restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen under certain conditions. Waiters must wear mouth-nose-covers, and guests must leave their contact details.

June 15 After weeks of closure, borders open again for Germans, French and Swiss even without any particular reason for traveling.

June 16 The official German Corona App of the Robert-Koch-Institute to warn of a possible infection becomes available.

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