The ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 has affected almost every nation and led to an inconceivable change in the dynamics of the milieu of all those aforementioned nations. As far as the European continent is concerned, Germany, in particular, has been affected and dealt efficiently with the virus.
Nevertheless, Germany didn’t announce the state of emergency at the federal level, but Bavaria, a federal German state, had announced the state of emergency way back on 16th March 2020. It meant that the state government had centralized all the commands and created a uniformed command structure. It had also restricted the movement of people to leisure facilities like swimming pools, bars, clubs or cinemas.
Indeed, the quarantine measures were taken jointly by both federal and state governments on all those travellers returning from abroad. Moreover, ‘Corona Cabinet’ decided that those returning or entering Germany after an absence of more than one day were advised to home quarantine for two weeks.
Meanwhile, the government has eased down the restrictions by allowing shops to open with 800 metres of distance from 20th April onwards. Social distancing rule remained until 4th May. Large music and sports events are banned until 31st August. As far as religious gatherings, hotels and restaurants are concerned, they should remain closed. Moreover, the government has recommended wearing masks while going to shop or using public transports.
In the region, people are allowed to travel but there must be strict adherence to the social distancing between them. For the last two weeks, due to the rapid decrease in the cases, the government subsequently started putting down restrictions and started allowing people to open their shops. Unfortunately, the famous Oktoberfest is cancelled this year.
Meanwhile, the lockdown, German authorities and in particular Robert Koch Institute (RKI) were regulating the cases and monitoring the availability of laboratories in case of sudden upsurge. On 25th March, this institute suggested that people no longer needed to come from severely least affected areas to be tested, as the agency reported that too many people without symptoms were tested which would lead to overburdening of the healthcare system. In general, German authorities systematically dealt with the crisis by implementing the National Pandemic Plan.
Regarding the medical supplies, the country has already kept its stocks ready if the cases went up. Besides, Germany asked its domestic car manufacturers to produce medical equipment such as masks and ventilators and help the government in handling the catastrophe. Volkswagen has assured complete support to German authorities in fighting the pandemic and donated several measuring devices, masks, disinfectants and diagnostic equipment. Likewise, on 30th March, Deutsche Bank donated 375,000 surgical masks, which they had acquired during the SARS epidemic. Some surveys came out with the recommendation of keeping stock of more beds and health authorities started arranging and ordering more beds which helped in keeping control of the pandemic in the end. “In contrast to Spain, France and Italy, we have a very high density of hospitals and beds, and this has emerged as a big advantage in this crisis,” said Uwe Janssens, head of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI). Furthermore, Germany has also received some medical supplies from China. As the government was able to put control of the burgeoning of the cases, it was looking forward to opening the schools, shops, playgrounds, factories and others. While the federal government allowed some shops, but Saxony-Anhalt went one step forward by easing a lot more restrictions and allowing five persons to travel together. Certainly, the possible reason for this welcoming move is the low infectious rate in the region. Moreover, the federal government was looking forward to implementing those initiatives in all the states but without compromising the strict adherence to social distancing rule.
Though Economists came up with an analysis that there will be unprecedented employment in the aftermath of the pandemic. However, the German federal government is helping in all possible ways to keep its economy stable and helping the local businesses and big companies too to sustain themselves. As far as the former is concerned, there is the dispensing of the emergency aid for small businesses and the solo self-employed includes a direct, non-repayable grant of EUR between 9,000 and 15,000 for three months. At the national level, the federal government is making EUR 50 million available for this purpose. Both small and large companies can defer tax payments and social security contributions. On the other hand, the Federal Government is also helping large companies with an Economic Stabilization Fund, as the federal government announced. The ‘Special Programme 2020’ of the state-owned KfW development bank supports companies that are in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, a programme of unlimited loans is being provided by the KfW banking group. Large companies like the ailing Lufthansa could be rescued by nationalization if necessary. The Federal Government has announced that it will not stand idly by and let German companies be taken over by financial investors during the pandemic.
Meanwhile all this, Germany is trying all its efforts and helping in ultimately keeping control of the outbreak and eventually stopping it. Simultaneously helping its society, economy, running of the political institution back to the normal state of affairs. Not only this, but the country is also supporting its neighbouring countries in particular and foreign nations in general in helping them in fighting amidst this crisis. For instance, Germany sent a lot more medical supplies to Iran during the unprecedented upsurge in the cases over there. All the nations are supposed to fight this transnational virus only through close cooperation and solidarity, and Germany is one of those who is putting all its efforts to save humanity and peace.
Written by Vishal Rajput, April 2020.