Anne Will closes her 2020 talk show series with a thematic bang: in the last broadcast of the year, she discussed with her guests the currently decided national lockdown..

“Advent, Advent, a little light is burning …”: The Christmas atmosphere and festive mood will have to spread differently among the people this year. Although the politicians wanted to make hope for Christmas in a wider circle with the easy version of the November lockdown. Was that wrong? Has politics gambled trust back and forth with the federal and state? Anne Will wanted to know that from her guests on her talk show.

The guests

  • Manuela Schwesig (SPD), Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

  • Kristina Dunz, Head of the Rheinische Post’s parliamentary office

  • Armin Laschet (CDU), Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia

  • Julian Nida-Rümelin, philosopher and political scientist

  • Uwe Janssens, President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine

The positions

“We in intensive care say it is five past twelve”, was the urgent appeal of Dr. Janssens. “We need the numbers to go down.” A line will soon be crossed: “Then the people who help other seriously ill people will be gone,” he said, referring to the high physical and psychological burden on doctors and nurses. If you woke up every morning every morning for weeks with a new infection rate of around 20,000, it was foreseeable that the clinics would be full by Christmas by mid-November, the doctor said.

Laschet could not make such a concise statement. He first had to accept Will’s question if he could keep up with his “own shit.” The moderator was referring to the fact that the Prime Minister had called for a lockdown only after Christmas a few days ago. According to the prime minister, that was Leopoldina’s scientific advice at the time. The measures taken for the festival depend on the ad hoc increase in infections. The fastest possible start time is Wednesday. Schwesig sprang up at him. The state parliaments must be given the opportunity to properly prepare the necessary processes. Sketch extra appeal to the population: “Everyone must participate”.

The quote of the evening

The evening’s quote came from Dunz, who reported a very personal circumstance. Not knowing she was infected, she visited her family. When she learned about the infection afterwards, she fell into a hole. “Ultimately, you have to live with infecting your mother, your grandmother,” she said. Anyone who is now thinking about visiting for Christmas should know about this. “You can’t get over that.” She summarized how the family dealt with the subject: “It was very difficult for me. I got over it. We survived.” But it will accompany it for a very long time.

The number of the evening

There was a brief confusion because Dunz extrapolated the number of people allowed for Christmas meetings to over 10. So it would be in the ordinance: five people from up to two households with four additional people and their partners. Children under 14 not included. Laschet and Schwesig could not follow. It went so far that the Union man rethought the ordinance. The number is clear. The subordinate clause that led Dunz to reckon with her life partner was only meant to describe the group from which the four additional persons may come, namely the immediate family.

To Will, it only showed one thing: “It’s just insanely complicated.” Wouldn’t it be easier to allow only those who live together to celebrate Christmas together, she asked Laschet. “Yes,” replied the astonished. But that’s not the reality of living in Germany. Janssens was sure: “It will be a tough Christmas.” People just need to express love through distance.

The excitement of the evening

The current round at Will wasn’t meant to break up in a discussion. Only small things warmed the mind for a moment. When Will von Laschet and Schwesig, for example, wanted to find out why it was only in mid-November that the decision was made to network the health authorities with the Helmholtz Institute’s SORMAS software, even though it had been operational since the beginning of summer.

Schwesig’s slightly snotty answer: “We haven’t blocked better software.” Or as Dunz emphasized that the protection of at-risk groups in retirement and nursing homes is not as transparent as one would like. Rapid antigen tests are not available in many places. FFP2 masks were also on the way for a long time.

The conclusion

Hence, it is more of an acquaintance left over from the evening. Nida-Rümelin and Janssens in particular deduced this from the discussion. What about after January 10, the formally scheduled end of the lockdown? The philosopher turned out to be a tough analyst. Even after the first time, people ‘let themselves go’ and thought too little about other strategies, for example for schools and health authorities. His question: “Do we have a sustainable strategy in Germany and Europe?”

Janssens agreed. Society must be prepared for the first four months of 2021 to be just as tough. Normalization is only achieved at an incidence of ten to thirty per 100,000 in seven days. Because then the health authorities could trace the infection chains again. Then in mid-2021 people could again “see the sun rise”.

Nida-Rümelin also advocated a new tracking app to enable more targeted tracking. Even if, as a data protection advocate, he should emphasize that this should be left behind. However, it is incomprehensible that no progress has been made on the Corona app because of the basic right to informal self-determination. On the other hand, the lockdown will violate other fundamental rights on a massive scale.

The fact check

FDP chief Christian Lindner called for proportionality to be maintained in the course of upcoming anti-corona measures. What does that mean? The Basic Law grants everyone basic rights of freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, protection of property, inviolability of one’s own home. In addition, there is the general freedom of action in Article 2, paragraph 1, or the general insult to human dignity in Article 1.

The central question in the examination of a fundamental right is the definition of the scope of protection. The state may only intervene in these protected areas with sovereign measures if there is legal legitimacy. The lawyers speak here of an obstacle to a fundamental right. Corona regulations of the federal states are part of this. But nothing without double protection: these barriers must also be measured by standards. That’s proportionality. Because not every intervention that is effective is also useful.

Government intervention in a fundamental right must be appropriate and necessary. In addition, there is “proportionality in the strict sense”. Four words that define a decisive order principle in our legal system. It is a matter of judicial balancing between the things that speak for the restriction of the fundamental right or support the protection of the fundamental right to liberty.

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