Bavaria: Corona aid for culture – Munich


Michael Bremmer

Suddenly Katrin Neoral has to hesitate. She stops for a moment. Breathe in deeply and let your lips vibrate as you breathe out. Before that, she gave a 30-minute walk on the Isar without a break, explaining why it is of great importance for society to support freelance artists in the corona pandemic. Why she feels responsible for the artists. Why help has to come quickly. And why, in their opinion, it is wrong to fob off artists with basic security. She supports all of her arguments with sweeping gestures, as if she were standing at the podium in the plenary hall of the state parliament and trying to convince the MPs of quick and sufficient assistance from artists. But when asked whether she would like to go into politics herself in order to achieve these goals, she initially hesitates. She looks down, breathes out deeply, then says: “I sometimes catch myself thinking: How would I do that now? But no, I can’t really imagine going into politics. That’s what I’m up for direct, too emotional and too little diplomatic. “


Traveling in Corona time: mandatory test for Lufthansa flights – Munich

Detlef Rubik is a little surprised when he is suddenly asked to take a corona test. “I had read on the Internet that tests were carried out. But I thought it only happens sporadically.” That turns out to be a mistake. At least if you want to take Lufthansa to Hamburg at 9.10 a.m. Rubik therefore enters the small medical center across from Gate G 34. It only takes a few minutes. Welcome, identity check, throat swab, that’s it. The result is available after a quarter of an hour and is transmitted to the cell phone. Rubik is allowed to fly. He joins his fellow travelers, who all have good news to show: Corona-free.

This is important. Because for LH 2058 the following has been valid for a week: Without a negative Corona test nobody is allowed on board. For the time being, the regulation only applies to this one daily departure – plus the return flight LH 2059. It is a pilot project, reports the Lufthansa program manager in charge, Christoph Leffers. On the one hand, it should give passengers a “feeling of added value”. The tests are free of charge, and anyone who feels uncomfortable despite the repeatedly praised aircraft air conditioning system then has additional security. The hygiene regulations on board still apply.

On the other hand, the airline wants to gain experience. Lufthansa needs arguments in order to at some point be able to put the annoying quarantine regulations aside when entering many countries. Which of course only works if governments accept such tests as an alternative to self-isolation. That would be important not least for the restricted intercontinental traffic – who wants to be locked in a hotel for two weeks? Leffers is clear that it will take some time before such a topic comes on the agenda. But the airline wants to be prepared when the corona situation allows the first easing.

But do the passengers accept the mandatory test? The Hamburg traveler Rubik has no problem with it, and Dominik Schubert, who flies to the Alster for work, thinks it’s “okay”. Lufthansa had given notice two days in advance, and Schubert was certain that he would be tested negative anyway. This is how it should ideally work, reports Leffers: That everyone knows what to expect early on. So far, it has not worked 100 percent because you haven’t reached everyone. But the attempt has only just started.

Lufthansa test center

The new Lufthansa test center at Terminal 2.

(Photo: Marco Einfeldt)

Of course, there are also passengers who do not agree with the test. Usually, however, they do not appear at the gate, but are transferred to another machine free of charge in advance. So far this has not been a problem – for a test that is limited to a single connection. The next “normal” start in the direction of Hamburg will be in two hours. On the other hand, there are also passengers who consciously book the flight with additional security. And some who don’t care. Mainly Hamburg.

Leffers is convinced that all of this would not be possible across the board. So far, around 150 people have completed a corona test before their flight to Hamburg, reports Hanns-Georg Klein from the Martinsried Medical Care Center, who is responsible for the smears together with his laboratory manager Anna Binder. Three of them were positive. If the antigen test works, the passenger is warned quickly and, of course, cannot fly. This is followed by a PCR test, according to Klein the “gold standard”, which offers even greater security. But it also takes six hours. If the findings are confirmed, the health department must be informed.

Corona test airport

Open your mouth, wait briefly for the result of the corona test and then, as with Detlef Rubik, hopefully get on the plane.

(Photo: Marco Einfeldt)

Incidentally, Klein reports, another antigen test was carried out on the three corona-positives to be on the safe side – one of which was negative. “He had eaten and drunk shortly before,” said Klein. Then something like that can happen. When was the last time you ate something? This is one of the standard questions in the laboratory. Overall, Klein considers the tests to be very reliable. If you don’t want to be checked at the airport, you can bring a test certificate. However, it may not be older than 48 hours. Since it can be a shock to find out a positive test result, Lufthansa has taken out insurance for every passenger. Their trained employees accompany the patient through the next steps.

The first tests in intercontinental traffic will not be due before the first quarter of next year, according to Leffers. With the hoped-for principle of “testing instead of quarantine”, Lufthansa has its most important market, North America, in mind. One thing is clear: if you get a positive result at an airport abroad, your return journey will not work – which is not pleasant in every part of the world. But Corona-positives are not allowed to travel by air either.


Munich Airport closes Terminal 1 – Munich due to Corona

Munich Airport is preparing for the quiet months – and is therefore closing its Terminal 1 again on December 1st. In view of the sharp drop in passenger numbers after a brief summer high, Terminal 2, which is designed for around 25 million passengers annually, is easily enough to handle all traffic to handle. Airlines such as Air France, Alitalia, British Airways or Emirates are therefore temporarily moving from the western to the eastern part of the airport. For how long is unclear – the operating company FMG currently does not venture a forecast for spring. Terminal 2 is normally reserved for Lufthansa and its partner companies in the Star Alliance. It also has a satellite terminal on the eastern apron, which has been closed for months due to lack of demand.

Terminal 1, which includes handling areas A to E, was closed at the end of April. When the traffic picked up again in summer, FMG reopened the halls at the beginning of July. Attention: This time the check-in of the moved airlines is on the arrivals level of Terminal 2 (level 03). Module Z in the central area was reserved for this in the spring. Baggage for arriving passengers is handed out via the conveyor belts in Terminal 2. If you are a car driver who does not necessarily want to walk a long way before the flight, you should not head for the parking garages with the lower numbers near Terminal 1 (some of which are closed anyway), but instead drive towards P 20 or P 26.

Munich Airport, which once scratched the 50 million passenger mark, is unlikely to even reach the passenger numbers of its first year of operation this year. Back then, in 1992, around twelve million were counted – until mid-May in the now largely demolished halls of the previous airport in Riem.

Accordingly, it is currently empty in the terminals in Erdinger Moos, which are designed for significantly higher crowds. Numerous shops and restaurants are closed – there is a list of all offers that are still open on the airport’s website. The range of intercontinental flights has shrunk significantly, Lufthansa only has eight long-haul aircraft in use. At FMG, they don’t expect a return to their former size until 2024, but that is not certain.

If the Corona situation allows, Lufthansa wants to use up to 30 long-haul aircraft from Munich again by 2024 – this provides for a declaration of intent with FMG, which was signed at the end of October. The hub is to be expanded further after the crisis has ended. This is far from being the case at the moment. On the other hand, the punctuality values ​​are record-breaking.


Corona in Munich: School building offensive comes to a standstill – Munich

Many projects are being postponed in order to save. Nothing is being deleted, but lessons in the container are probably taking longer than expected for some students.

The Munich school building campaign is a program of superlatives. Since 2016, the city has decided on three construction programs to make room for more than 40,500 additional students. 96 individual construction projects are included in these programs, together they cost more than 6.5 billion euros. Further construction programs are already being prepared. Of all urban investments, the construction plans for schools and day-care centers are by far the largest chunk. And even if the city has to save because of the Corona crisis: It doesn’t want to delete anything at schools and daycare centers. That said Mayor Verena Dietl (SPD) on Monday; the city council should vote on it in December. According to Dietl, individual construction projects are to be postponed instead in order to save money, at least temporarily.

Overall, the city would like to invest around three billion euros in school construction by 2025 – that is about a quarter less than previously planned. It has already been possible to save 100 million euros by completing schools and day-care centers that have already gone into operation more cheaply than planned, explains Dietl; the city council decided in July to examine potential savings totaling 237 million euros. On the other hand, “postponements and extensions” in the school building programs are to make a significantly larger contribution: Here the city wants to save one billion euros by 2025 – money that it will then have to raise in the following years. For schoolchildren, this not least means that some of them will probably be taught in containers longer than expected.

Dietl did not want to disclose on Monday which schools should be specifically affected, despite demand. The focus is on nine construction projects from the first two school building programs alone; eight of these will be delayed by a year or two, and another will not be tackled until another project has been completed. Dietl did not comment on the projects that were only decided on in 2019, in the third school construction program. In addition to the school building programs, the city is also investing in the construction of new day care centers; In 2019, for example, she decided to build additional daycare centers for more than 2,500 children for just under 190 million euros. This should not change, so Dietl: The measures of the Kita construction program would be continued unchanged.

“The planned investments will not be canceled”, assures Dietl. Because the city continues to grow, further construction work will also be necessary in the next few years. You have to act farsightedly in order to pay for this and thus ensure school supplies.


Fitness studios in Bavaria: the closure is wrong – Bavaria

The distances to be observed are marked on the area for dumbbell lifting and gymnastics, every second treadmill is closed, the equipment park is thinned out, the drinking fountain is out of order. It was possible to check digitally beforehand whether there was access at all if the number of guests was limited. Scenes from October, from a Munich gym. The visitors complete their training as a lone fighter, wear a mask when changing stations, disinfect everything after use – if not, the employees look reproachful. Caution, prudence, mindfulness, as Prime Minister Markus Söder always preaches, are the yardstick here. Take care of your own body. And others.

The fitness studios have perfected their hygiene concepts, but still remain tight. This is wrong. You can no longer see them as places of entertainment – they are health facilities. Of course, infections can never be completely ruled out there. But under strict rules the risk is reduced. The positive effects of sport are likely to predominate: A good constitution and a fit cardiovascular system are the best prevention against diseases, including infections of the respiratory tract. Orthopedic anyway: Damage to the back and other body parts is known to be a major cost factor in the health system and economy.

People who take care of their bodies are usually also sensitized to Corona. Motto discipline. There may be lavish pump booths where boys pose in packs; but that’s often a cliché. It would be the job of the state to strictly control studios. In gastronomy, that was also possible when the police came minutes after curfew. The stop to the fitness industry is arguably a measly contribution to containing the virus – but it could have negative consequences for the health of the citizens.


Attempt at Haimhauser School: contain outbreaks – Munich

Enjoyable? Well, there are more pleasant things, says 17-year-old Zara. The student is standing in the gym of the Bavarian International School (BIS), and she has just spat between two partitions into a brown plastic bottle in which half the class’s saliva was already swimming. The school calls this a “saliva spitting class pool”. After all, you can’t see or smell anything yourself when you spit in, says Zara. It all only happens in the head.

A pilot project at the BIS in Haimhausen near Dachau came to an end on Thursday: the school, which in addition to its location there also operates a house in Munich and has a total of around 1200 students, and the Augsburg laboratory operator Synlab spent three weeks trying out how to do it can efficiently test entire classes for the coronavirus. There is not enough capacity to test each student individually, which is why the idea is to bundle the tests: the students spit one after the other into a shared container that contains a virus-inactivating liquid. The mixture is then subjected to a PCR test.

With this one cannot reliably diagnose every infection, says the biochemist Alexander Hauenschild from Synlab, who developed the project. But it is not about finding all infected people, but about the so-called super spreaders: “People who go through a bar and infect 20 others”, although they may not show any symptoms themselves. Many corona infections can be traced back to such highly contagious people, says Hauenschild. If someone is sitting in a class with such a high viral load, the test reliably shows that. And then the class can take an individual test.

With such pool tests, corona outbreaks can be limited at an early stage, says school principal Chrissie Sorenson. At their school, ten classes of different ages took part in the pilot, they came every Monday and Thursday to the gym, which was converted into a small test center, to spit. This takes about a minute per class. And that has already proven itself, says Sorenson: At the end of October, the PCR test hit the saliva pool of an eighth grade. The next day the children came to the individual test – and so they found out that a student who showed no symptoms had a lot of viruses in his throat. Sorenson says he did not infect another child in his class. The school’s hygiene measures have also proven their worth.

The brown plastic containers contain the saliva of one class each.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

In the BIS gym, the students not only practiced spitting into a bottle together. Individual students as well as a complete fifth and a twelfth grade also did additional individual tests each time – independently, without professional help, by rinsing the throat, not by smear. Corresponding test kits are already available in stores, says Hauenschild from Synlab: You gargle with water for ten seconds, spit into a transparent cup and pull the result into a small tube. That then goes to the laboratory.

Such a test is more pleasant than a swab through the nose, which she also had to take once, says Zara, who has gargled six times. The fifth graders can do it just like the older ones. And basically, daycare children could do that too, says Hauenschild. Nobody is afraid of a sip of water, unlike a long swab. Anyone who can brush their teeth can gargle and spit.

Synlab bears the costs for the pilot project at the Bavarian International School; Hauenschild says they have invested around 30,000 euros in material – and they are also happy to cooperate with public schools if interested. On the one hand, the company came to BIS through personal contacts at the International School Augsburg – and BIS was also predestined because it has its own “Health Department”.

This is headed by nurse Julia Lönker; Otherwise, she and her team take care of students or teachers who are injured or need medication. Now they have organized the test center in the gym, laid out walking routes, set up tables and partitions and determined their spitting times based on the class timetables in order to disrupt lessons as little as possible. But none of this is rocket science, says Lönker, and once everything has been set up, the effort is limited.

A converted gym does not necessarily have to be. The aim is actually for the students to spit into the containers directly in their classrooms, says Hauenschild. He hopes that if you can search for superspreaders across the board with the help of the spitting pools, that would be a real contribution to fighting pandemics. But how the idea will continue is still open. Next, they want to sit down with schools and health authorities, says Hauenschild. And then see what can be implemented.


Corona in Munich: new infections and incidence value – Munich

In Munich, as in the rest of Bavaria, there are some restrictions due to the corona virus. The extent of the restriction depends on the level of the seven-day incidence. The incidence value is calculated based on the number of new infections within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants.

There are currently two different incidence values ​​for the city of Munich: from the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) – to which the city refers – and from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin. Due to delays in reporting the data from the LGL to the RKI, the two values ​​may differ. In the event of a deviation, the respective higher value applies.

The city of Munich reports once a day how many people are currently infected with the virus. The infographic below is constantly updated with the latest case numbers, as well as the current seven-day incidence and the number of reproductions for Munich.


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Munich: “lateral thinkers” fail in front of the VGH – Munich

The Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) rejected two urgent motions from the initiative “lateral thinking 089” on Saturday. The movement had requested the city to hold rallies for a week on Munich’s Theresienwiese. There was supposedly a kick-off event with up to 120,000 participants, a second application included seven further rallies: from Monday to Friday for up to 10,000 people each time and for up to 50,000 people on the coming weekend.

The Munich district administration department (KVR) rejected both applications. On the other hand, the so-called “lateral thinkers” have filed a lawsuit, first at the Administrative Court in Munich (VG) and after they failed again at the next higher instance, the VGH. The organizers can no longer appeal against its resolutions.

The movement’s rally plans come at a time when the second wave of infections is particularly high. But that is exactly what it is apparently about: The Ulm lawyer Markus Haintz, a well-known supporter of the “lateral thinkers”, wanted to question in court that there is even a pandemic. The motto of the large demonstration on Sunday was “We are celebrating the end of the pandemic” – the rally could only be rejected in this form. A spokesman for the KVR said: “Since the ‘lateral thinkers’ declared in the application that they would forego masks and distance and even call for hugs, we issued a negative decision.” The two courts followed suit. The VG announced that the city was following the assessment that the meeting would “probably pose unacceptable risks in terms of protection against infection.”

The court doubts that the rally was really planned

In its decision on Saturday, the Bavarian Administrative Court doubts that there was any “real intention” to hold the rallies, according to a spokesman. Despite a request from the Senate, the organizer did not make credible that he actually wanted to hold the announced meetings.

In contrast to the previous meetings in Munich and the meeting planned for Saturday in Leipzig, demonstrations between November 8th and 15th in Munich were not mentioned on the Internet pages and social media channels of the “lateral thinking” movement. Otherwise it was not evident that these events were being advertised or prepared in any way, the court continued. When registering for the large demonstration, attorney Haintz announced that he would, if necessary, take legal action before the Federal Constitutional Court. All in all, this suggests that the movement was not really interested in holding the rally, but in exhausting all possibilities.

Last Sunday, the “lateral thinkers” circumvented the requirements of the KVR by unceremoniously canceling the registered meeting and instead announcing that they would hold a service – without any restrictions on participants. Representatives from politics, churches and society reacted indignantly. The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior announced that the police and assembly authorities would “prevent such diversionary maneuvers from the start”. And so, despite the ban on demonstrations, the Munich police are preparing for work this Sunday: emergency services should be at Theresienwiese and “enforce the ban”.


Corona in homes – the invisible danger – Munich district

In April, the disaster struck the St. Katharina Labouré nursing home in Unterhaching. It is an invisible but insidious danger. A total of 19 residents of the old people’s home died in connection with the corona virus, including many of the Jesuits living there. Among the dead is the oldest Jesuit in the German province, Father Johannes Beck, who is 97 years old.

“Omnia ad maiorem Dei gloriam” is the motto of the Jesuit order – everything for the greater glory of God. The brothers were firmly rooted in their faith. This insidious virus is not a question of faith, it is extremely real and this spring it has not only brought great suffering to Unterhaching. It was usually a very lonely death that April in tightly screened old people’s and nursing homes. Relatives and friends were not allowed to say goodbye, the fear was too great that the virus would be brought in again and again.

97 people have died in connection with the corona virus in the Munich district since March 26. Most of them in old people’s and nursing homes.

It has been quiet for months since spring, and there have been hardly any reports from the care facilities. The death toll was 96 for weeks – by Wednesday. Then the district office reported another death. And not only that, the number of infections among residents and employees is increasing. The virus is finding its way back into the homes in the district. The danger is back. Actually, she was never gone.

“We do everything humanly possible to protect the people in our facilities,” says Wolfgang Dausch. He is public relations officer for the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Saint Vincent de Paul, responsible for the Sankt Katharina Labouré retirement home in Unterhaching, which was hit so hard in the spring. “But we also know that there is no such thing as one hundred percent protection.”

This is shown by the latest figures: As of Friday afternoon, 23 residents in four homes and 18 employees had currently tested positive. The curve is pointing upwards, although the number of homes affected has not increased in the past few days. Nevertheless, District Administrator Christoph Göbel (CSU) says: “Unfortunately, we have to constantly reckon with the fact that there are more cases.”

Old people's home

In spring it was often very lonely for residents in old people’s and nursing homes, there were strict occupational bans. Visits are now allowed again, but under strict security precautions.

(Photo: Jonas Güttler / dpa)

Hygiene concepts and serial testing are crucial when it comes to keeping the virus out of the homes or discovering it once it has found its way in. In almost all 56 facilities in the district there are time corridors for visits, an appointment must be made, each resident may only visit one contact person wearing a mask, the meetings take place in the resident’s room – at a distance. Wolfgang Dausch says that outside meetings also take place in Katharina St. Labouré, if the weather is now in autumn, it would be safer. Unlike in spring, most facilities now allow the dying to be accompanied on their last journey. “First and foremost, we are there for people,” says Dausch.

But what happens if the “sword of Damocles”, as Dausch calls it, falls over one of his homes? Then the plan from the spring will take effect again, an isolation ward will be set up to separate residents who have tested positive from those who are not infected. The employees were and are very sensitized to dealing with the virus and the people in their workplace.

The community monastery in Ismaning, a senior citizens ‘home operated by the workers’ welfare organization, was hit hard in April and several residents died. Everyday life changed radically for the people in the home, carers had to wear protective suits, had masks on all the time, infected people were isolated, residents were only allowed on the balcony if they wanted to breathe fresh air.

During this time, however, says Mayor Alexander Greulich (SPD), the local volunteer fire brigade could be relied on, which supported the employees continuously and tested residents and carers for the corona virus at great expense. “They were and are still an incredibly great help today and will also be one if the situation gets worse again,” he says. In addition, the permanent, intensive contact between the community and home manager Tobias Gruber is important, says Greulich. The homes should not be left to their own devices.

168.3 incidence value

The seven-day incidence rose to a new record high of 168.3 on Friday. The code indicates how many out of 100,000 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past seven days. Since Thursday afternoon, another 75 people in the district have been infected with the virus (as of Friday, 2:20 p.m.). This increases the number of cases to 3816. 631 people are currently infected, 3088 are considered recovered, and 97 people have died. The new infections are spread across almost all 29 municipalities. Only in Aschheim, Baierbrunn, Grasbrunn, Putzbrunn, Sauerlach and Straßlach-Dingharting were there no new cases.

The district has also recognized this and readjusted its strategy in the fight against the virus. District Administrator Christoph Göbel wants to rely on a mix of serial tests with PCR tests and rapid tests. 5,400 rapid tests from the Ministry of Health arrived on Friday, and the district ordered an additional 30,000 units. So far, serial tests have taken place in 24 of the 56 old people’s and nursing homes in the district, and this number will continue to rise, says Göbel.

How serious the situation is can be seen from the increasing number of occupied intensive care beds. As of Friday, 114 people were being treated in intensive care units in Upper Bavaria, and the number of normal beds occupied by Covid 19 patients continues to rise sharply, currently there are almost 530 in Upper Bavarian clinics.

The team at the Katharina St. Labouré house in Unterhaching is now gearing up for the upcoming Corona winter. There they all want to prevent the terrible events of spring from happening again. The invisible danger is not gone.


Hotels in Munich: Far too many rooms available – Munich

In the pandemic, many hoteliers have the same problem as some Munich tenants: They can no longer afford their accommodation. With what creative ideas hotels are trying to get through the crisis.


Franz Kotteder

A year ago, the mood in the industry was more like that of 1896 in Klondike, Canada. Anyone who had a lot of play money for real estate was not investing in rental apartments in Munich, but in hotels. What is a monthly rent of 18 euros per square meter when you can get 150 euros per night for a small room? Year after year the number of hotel beds in the city grew by up to 6,000, and around 50 new hotels were added each year. The result was a development that was repeatedly complained about by the hotel and restaurant association in the city. There is a bubble growing that has to burst at some point.