The Ammer Mountains are a rather quiet mountain region far away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. The 30 to 30 kilometer mountain range extends west from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Füssen and across to Tyrol. Its highest mountain on the Bavarian side is the 2185 meter high Kreuzspitze. To climb the rocky summit between Graswangtal and Loisachtal you need alpine experience, you have to be sure-footed and free from giddiness. On the lower slopes of the Kreuzspitze, as in many places in the lonely mountain region, there is a wild mountain spruce forest. Now parts of the Ammergau Alps are to become even more unspoilt. Forest Minister Michaela Kaniber (CSU) is setting up a 5000 hectare natural forest on the Kreuzspitze. The national park principle “let nature be nature” applies to it, so it should develop without human influence.
Everyone should go to school – that is the declared goal of the state government. To this end, at the beginning of the school year, in accordance with student, parent and teacher associations, it stipulated that there would be regular operations in general, albeit with strict hygiene requirements. This is generally seen as the lesser evil compared to digital teaching at home, so-called homeschooling. What are the rules that currently apply to the approximately 6200 Bavarian schools? An overview.
Where does the mask requirement apply?
After the autumn break, i.e. from November 9th, all teachers and all pupils must generally wear a mask on the school premises and in class. Even in elementary schools. Before that, it depended on the prevailing local infection; this condition no longer exists in the current Bavarian Infection Protection Measures Ordinance.
That means: the mask requirement applies on the whole school premises, in the corridors, in the playground and also in the classrooms. Only those people do not have to adhere to it, for whom wearing a mouth and nose cover “is not possible or unreasonable due to a disability or for health reasons”. Students who ignore the mask requirement can be sent home. The independent cities and districts can, however, waive the mask requirement in class with a special permit – the city of Munich and some districts have done this for their primary schools, for example.
When does homeschooling happen?
The Ministry of Culture has developed a three-step plan that provides for certain measures, depending on the number of infections. In level 3, i.e. with a seven-day incidence of 50 or more, a minimum distance of 1.50 meters should consequently be maintained in the rooms. Since this is not possible in very few classrooms, this actually means: face-to-face lessons in small groups and distance lessons at home alternate. The classes are divided, the students take turns going to school or homeschooling. However, this measure is not an automatic mechanism, but a general recommendation by the Ministry of Culture. The respective health department decides on a case-by-case basis what exactly applies in a city or in a district with increasing numbers of infections.
Whole classes are repeatedly quarantined because of a Covid case, and sometimes entire schools are closed, but very few municipalities have so far ordered nationwide homeschooling. The limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants has been exceeded within a week since mid-October almost everywhere in Bavaria, and since the beginning of November even across the board. For critics of the current Corona school policy, this is evidence of poor leadership and unclear guidelines from the Ministry of Culture.
How is it in the classrooms?
In regular operation, i.e. with an incidence value of less than 35, students do not have to keep a distance from one another in the classroom. However, there is a one and a half meter distance between them and the teachers. The children should sit at individual tables facing the front and not share any materials such as rulers or pens. If groups mix, as in ethics, religion or foreign language classes, the students in one class should sit together and keep their distance from the other group. Rooms must be ventilated at least every 45 minutes for at least five minutes, tilted windows are not enough. In modern schools with ventilation systems, the municipalities responsible for equipping the buildings should reprogram the systems for more fresh air and open locked windows during the holidays.
If the incidence value is between 35 and 50 (level 2), the local health department can decide to forego the minimum distance in the classroom anyway. If it is over 50 (level 3), it should actually make the minimum distance mandatory – as described above, this rarely happens.
Which rules apply on the school premises?
Mask requirement and distance apply everywhere on the school premises. In order to keep the mix of all pupils to a minimum and so that infections remain traceable, the schools must mark walking routes and equalize breaks and lesson times. In the school yard and in the cafeteria, children of one class or the upper school are allowed to be together, but must keep their distance from other groups. A distance of 1.5 meters also applies in queues in front of the kiosk or in front of the toilets. Paper towels must be laid out there, hand-held blowers are prohibited because of the aerosols.
When do children have to stay at home?
Mild cold symptoms: Students with a cold and “occasional cough” are only allowed to go back to school if they have not developed a fever after 24 hours. Anyone who still shows up at school must be picked up again. If the seven-day incidence on site is more than 50, students must also either present a doctor’s certificate or a negative corona test. An exception applies to elementary school students: As in daycare centers, they are also allowed to go to school with a sniff nose – as long as the seven-day incidence does not exceed 50.
Flu-like symptoms: Sick pupils with symptoms such as fever, cough or earache are only allowed to go back to school if they have been symptom-free for 24 hours and fever-free for 36 hours. If the seven-day incidence is higher than 50, you need a negative corona test or a medical certificate in order to be able to go back to class.
When are schools closed, when are individual classes?
If a pupil falls ill with Covid-19, his or her class is sent home as a whole and has to be quarantined for two weeks. After that, classes will take place again, unless the local health department decides otherwise. If a teacher falls ill, he or she is not allowed to teach and has to be quarantined. The health department will decide whether this also applies to other teachers and students.
If a Covid-19 case occurs in a senior year, the entire class or the entire senior year is tested for corona. The students have to be in quarantine, but they can interrupt it if a final exam is due – for these then stricter hygiene requirements apply.
Closing schools completely, as happened across the board in spring 2020, should be an exception, according to the Ministry of Culture. It depends on the number of infections, ultimately the local health department decides. Then the students are taught what is known as homeschooling, the Ministry speaks of “distance teaching”.
Are there any subject lessons?
Physics, chemistry, music and sports are allowed again this school year subject to certain conditions. Teachers decide whether and, if so, which sport is possible. If the incidence rises above 35, older students are only allowed to exercise without a mask if they keep their distance. If the infection rate rises to more than 50, elementary and special school students must also wear masks and keep their distance. Distance applies in the changing rooms; Showering is only possible under the strictest conditions.
For example, if children cannot wash their hands after every jump on parallel bars or bars, all students have to do this before and after the sports lesson. Thorough cleaning after each use also applies to computer rooms, devices in chemistry or physics and musical instruments. Aerosol emissions are particularly high in music lessons. Therefore, students must keep a distance of two meters when singing and in instrumental lessons with wind instruments. After each wind lesson, the room must be aired for 15 minutes. Singers should sing staggered in one direction. Music rooms must be ventilated for ten minutes every 20 minutes.
What applies on the way to school?
A mask is required in local public transport and on school buses. If young people go or cycle to school, they should keep their distance. The Free State pays more money for additional amplifier school buses.
Is he in a moral dilemma? Lukas puts the Bacardi-Cola can down on the lawn next to his blanket, looks past his buddy at the people on the banks of the Isar, then at those on the Reichenbach Bridge who want to take the very last rays of sunshine with them on Saturday afternoon. Then the 24-year-old says: “Yes, somehow yes.”
Lukas and thousands of others are out and about in town on Saturday. The Viktualienmarkt is full, as if everything were free, in the bars the sunny spots are completely occupied and on the paths, whether the sidewalks of the city center, the one on the Isar or in the English Garden, it looks as if all of Munich is lined up and member set off for a primary school hiking day. Everything is allowed. But is it also correct?
Lukas picks up the can, puts it down again and says: “We are now two households here.” He is sitting next to his girlfriend, the buddy across from him. They are also in the fresh air. He feels that’s okay. Whereby the feeling of what is okay, what is right and good, is again very different in this city, probably also in the whole country and even on the whole planet. And how do people deal with it? Are you mad that Monday is lockdown again? Do you care because you already know it? Do you follow the rules? A tour. The weekend dilemma started on Thursday.
Invitations were made to various chat groups. For example, at the Halloween celebration for children with punch on Saturday. “Come by from 5:30 pm”, it was said in one case. “Nice idea, but maybe the wrong time?” Was the answer, whereupon a discussion poured into the chat. In a men’s chat, one wrote on Saturday afternoon: “A few beers in the sun at the Viktualienmarkt?” Beers in the sun are wonderful for many, it is well known. Lots of people in a heap is wonderful for the spread of the virus, you know that too. “You can tell how society works: You stick to the rules, but exhaust them,” says one of the men. The question is why so many would defend themselves against the requirements – and what would happen if you let people’s personal responsibility run free.
Downstairs at the Fraunhoferstraße subway station everyone wears a mask on Saturday afternoon. A couple stands at one of the yellow pillars and kisses each other through two masks. Ten meters further the same picture on a bench. And upstairs, two meters in front of the escalator, on which everyone is exemplary, keeping two steps apart, there is a third couple in the open air. They also kiss extensively, then they put on their masks and go down to the platform. Spring and feelings of duty can definitely be combined.
A hundred meters from the escalator, in the Cordobar, all the sunny spots are occupied, all the shady spots are empty, in Mucki & Floyd a few meters further, shortly after the Bundesliga kick-off, four guests are sitting in a half-finished pub garden. Spontaneous or planned? “It was on the calendar,” says a young man and laughs. He and the three women are work colleagues and we had a long meeting for the day. “We work together anyway and sit outside, that’s okay,” says Anna, 30. It’s even more than okay for Bella. She is the operator of the restaurant.
Bella and her colleagues are in the process of roofing the garden for the next few months. They have plenty of time to do this from Monday. Should as many Munich residents as possible now go out to bars, cafés and pubs? “Absolutely!” Why? “Because they might still want a gastronomic variety in four weeks.”
Bella has a board showing how much debt accumulated during the first lockdown, € 24,409.61 in ten weeks. This time she at least agrees with the process. “Nobody knew how long it would take the first time, there was always another two weeks.” The result: They left cooling systems and devices running, and had to throw away a lot of food and drinks. Now everything is closed from Monday and they have shopped in moderation. Still, she thinks the rules are wrong. “Hardly anyone in the catering industry is infected,” she says and speaks out loud about every objection.
This afternoon there is a lot of discussion in the city, about Trump and football, but above all about the restrictions, and some conversations then go on like that. Opposite in the Sax, which shows football as always, everyone agrees on the corner sofa. Bayern have long been in the lead when Fabian explains that his two friends from Aalen are visiting. “First football, then we’ll go out to eat again. That’s okay.” The 26-year-old nods to his friends when they report that they have always thought about how to approach the weekend. “What we do is okay,” says Fabian. And what’s wrong? “A rave with 150 people in the slaughterhouse like there was recently.” Lukas is sitting in front of a beer and says: “If we had all followed the guidelines of the last few months, we might not need this lockdown now.”
He is a Stuttgart fan, season ticket holder on the standing grandstand, of the loyal kind. He says: “Even if I could have, I wouldn’t have gone to the stadium.” For reasons of hygiene? “Everything that makes being a fan missing is missing: friends, drinking beer and chants.” Whereby the Viktualienmarkt this afternoon could well pass as a light stand.
The noise level is considerable and so is the crowd. Some people do their traditional costume again, you would also do that on a normal weekend at the end of October, visit the Afterwiesn traditional costume events. There is no free space at the tables in the outdoor Hochreiter restaurant, the waiters carry around bottles of champagne and sparkling wine, Marina, 25, is sitting at a table and says: “It’s strange.” There are five of them, four women, one man, the women well made up and dressed in such a way that you could walk in anywhere. “Strange, everything full today and lockdown Monday,” says Marina. “Of course, everyone wants to go out again.” Sitting next to her is Ramona, 24, who says: “I don’t think that’s fair.
Everything is regulated here, you are outdoors, and the subway is narrow and full. “And the subways would continue to run, the restaurants would have to close. Ramona has an appointment with the family on Sunday,” we are still going eat sometimes, my father called it lockdown food. “Marina’s family does that too. By the way, two households sit together here, a three-person flat share and a couple.” That’s okay, “says Marina. The sun is setting, Bayern lead 2-0, and on the Reichenbachbrücke people line up at the railing to enjoy the last sunny evening before the restrictions. A couple stands there, tightly embraced, a group of three around a case of beer or a man alone with headphones with the skateboard leaning on his leg and the Munich connoisseur label in hand: an Augustiner bottle, he looks at the sunset and down to the Isar.
There is also Luke with the moral dilemma. When it has long been dark, fewer people are walking on the sidewalks, but they are now better dressed. Halloween children with masks are out and about. In the Zephyr, an adult in a skeleton costume crouches at the bar and drinks. Somehow a picture for this moment, for this time. Alex Schmaltz behind the bar is happy for every hour he can leave open. And many guests are happy to have every drink and meal on preheated plates. Pappenheim Castle is full of students sitting in front of schnitzel, the Ménage bar is well attended, and Klenze 17 anyway.
There was hardly any excitement to be felt that evening. Not even with Lukas an der Isar. The 23-year-old is a bartender and recently had to tell regular guests every day for weeks that they should put on their mask when they go out onto the terrace. He had to put up with the fact that some people showed him the middle finger. Lukas will be unemployed from Monday, which he has known since Thursday. He says: “It’s good that the rules are uniform across Germany. You just had to do something.”
This is called eviscerated. Empty showcases, empty shelves, the silver clothes racks have been pushed aside. “One more day” is written on the wide entrance portal of Karstadt am Nordbad, and one can assume that every employee here who holds his position as brave as it is final is in a strange mood. A customer asks whether it is possible to get parts of the furniture. Another says that she was there when the West Schwabing department store opened. It was 1968, at that time the concrete fortress still looked rather futuristic between the old buildings around the north bath, which was decorated with a portico.
It’s now closing time – forever. The Karstadt am Nordbad closes after more than half a century. With him, the Karstadt closes in the Olympia shopping center – although there is a department store of the same group in the immediate vicinity, similar to the previously rescued Kaufhof on Stachus. The Karstadt am Nordbad is far and wide the only one of its kind. Officially, this Saturday is the last day of sale. In the three-story bunker, however, there is very little that could attract customers. A garish discount campaign – the advertising banners are still hanging on the facade – has long since emptied shelves, clothes racks and freezers.
The upper floor is already locked, there is nothing left to stumble upon. Employees run around pushing furniture back and forth. In the now void it becomes clear how huge the surfaces actually are. Everything is still brightly lit and the escalators are in operation. Soon, when it is cleared out, all of this will be empty and gloomy, as a demolished house. A strange idea.
The sausage counter in the basement is still occupied, there is no more fish. There are occasional groceries on the shelves. Vinegar, wine, spices and sweets. A couple of huge Advent wreaths are waiting for the last bargain buyers. The freezers have already been cleared.
Outside on Schleissheimer Strasse, on a pane of glass, there is a protest sticker: “The Benkos expropriate”, it says. In reference to the Austrian investor to whom Karstadt and Kaufhof have belonged for some time. On the glass entrance doors there is a note of solidarity from a “sad old customer”, as the clerk himself put it. The closure is a severe blow for Schwabing.
For decades, the department store, located directly on Nordbad, was a central point of contact when there was something to be found quickly that you would otherwise have to drive to the city center for. Where you could buy a Christmas tree at the last minute on Christmas Eve. Where, when the shop opening hours were still more strictly regulated, there was still pork schnitzel when the other supermarkets were already closed.
Of course, the closure of the once so important contact point is also a symbol of the change in the consumer world. The department stores suffer like hardly anyone else from the trend to shop digitally – in the better times of the Karstadt am Nordbad it was rather frowned upon to constantly besiege your own couch and do everything from home. Although there was already a mail order business back then, but it had an even more stuffy reputation than the department stores. All of that has changed.
The Schwabinger have started a rescue attempt. A residents’ initiative collected signatures for the preservation of the district meeting point, and Ruth Waldmann (SPD) member of the state parliament initiated an online petition. And also reminded of the fate of the many Karstadt employees who are now threatened with unemployment. It was all of no use. In the farewell letter from the workforce, which is taped outside on the front door, it is now a reminder where a good place is for recruiting: here.
The fashion designer, director and photographer Thierry Mugler has already let many stars rise in his life. He has dressed models and actresses, pop stars and other icons in chrome, lacquer and leather, in velvet, silk and feathers, put them in breastplates like Amazons and superheroes, and sent them (sex) goddesses on the catwalk straight away, in video sequences rapidly cut and pose in his photographs on dangerous abysses. With the help of imaginative fashion creations, he has created parallel universes, transformed models in a kind of bestiary into human-animal hybrids, which look as if they would be immersed in a sea of infinity at any moment. But he also condemned actors to immobility because he put them in costumes that were so heavy and fragile at the same time that they could hardly move.
And now Thierry Mugler, who now calls himself Manfred, is raising his own star in Munich: He poses like a golden angel in the exhibition “Couturissime” in the art hall of the Hypo-Kulturstiftung amidst his marvels. And if he – despite his 71 years of age – were not such a muscle-packed powerhouse, you could say that he is the prima ballerina. Which wouldn’t be so wrong either, since Mugler was a ballet dancer in his youth at the opera in his Alsatian home town of Strasbourg. He confesses that he has forgotten the little German he spoke as a child. And even if he likes the German mentality, the mountains and the Black Forest and some German cities, he doesn’t live in Germany – but in Berlin.
In recent times he has become obsessive about his own body. Which is why he describes it as his most important project at the moment. The shiny gold jacket he wears is made from material developed for NASA, he says, and when he discovered it in Harlem, he literally had to fight someone else to get it. But that is a lifelong experience: “I am a fighter, but I can also convince people and I always find a solution.” This is confirmed by its curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot. This was confirmed when the exhibition had to be set up under difficult conditions in spring due to Corona: “We communicated via WhatsApp for weeks,” says Loriot.
But Mugler can also be tough. When he shot the famous video for “Too Funky” with George Michael, it must have gotten a lot between the two men that they didn’t speak to each other for a long time. On the other hand: If Mugler admires someone else, he doesn’t hold back: Helmut Newton, with whom he worked on his first production in Germany, was someone like that. “He was a real genius, I was very impressed,” says Mugler, still raving about the legendary photographer, some of whom can also be seen in the “Couturissime” exhibition. He is “more than happy” with the show, which is currently not only enriched with a few more exhibits (including the Macbeth costumes), but has also been extended until February 28th.
City pigeons have a bad reputation. They make dirt and supposedly transmit diseases. The Munich veterinarian Doris Quinten describes the attitude of many people as “myths and prejudices”. She emphasizes that the pigeons are not wild animals, but abandoned domestic animals “that are no longer able to survive in the wild”. But to this day city pigeons are scorned with barbed grids and nets and even shot down to get the supposed plague under control. The parliamentary group of ÖDP-Free Voters is now campaigning for the protection and better handling of the birds with an application package. Several hundred of them are even to have a prominent home: in the attic of the town hall.
According to ÖDP councilor Nicola Holtmann, Marienplatz and, after the construction of the S-Bahn, again the Marienhof, are “pigeon hotspots”. So far, hundreds of them have been sitting in the nooks and crannies of the winding town hall, feeding on food waste from tourists and locals. According to the animal welfare officer of the ÖDP, a 20 to 30 square meter pigeon house could be set up in the attic of the town hall. The animals that are loyal to the location could live and breed there and should also be regularly fed in a species-appropriate manner. The model is the Augsburg town hall, which currently houses around 200 pigeons in the warehouse. The local city administration has found in recent years that the residents no longer drop around 80 percent of their legacies on the streets and squares around the town hall, but in their dovecote.
For the ÖDP and the Free Voters it is “completely incomprehensible that Munich city politicians and the administration do not want to come up with suitable locations for pigeon houses and that even the shooting of pigeons at underground stations is still considered an effective means”. The city council decided twelve years ago to build pigeon houses based on the Augsburg model. There are a total of 17 of them in Munich, but many of them are on private property. Others, such as the main train station on Arnulfstrasse, were only dismantled a few days ago because the building was being demolished. Volunteer pigeon keepers, who regularly fed the birds in a species-appropriate manner, disposed of the droppings and also removed pigeon eggs, were denied access to the hatchery, says veterinarian Quinten. The result is that many of the pigeons from the main train station would starve to death, even if the city apparently wants to build a new pigeon house on the building of the environment and health department.
ÖDP and Free Voters want to use their city council motions to ensure that there are fewer pigeons in the city in the future by removing the eggs from the birds in the pigeon houses. In Augsburg the number of pigeons had been reduced by around 10,000 animals. It would also make them less messy in public places. Then “torturing animals like safety nets and pigeon spikes could be dispensed with,” which, according to City Councilor Holtmann, are prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act or at least “morally highly questionable”. It is about a “peaceful life with the city pigeons”.
Karin Michalke set a monument to her home village with a film trilogy. When the screenwriter sees a large excavation there, she is angry. About nature concreted over and why she always had the feeling of being different from most of them in the place.
Kati and Jo, two dreamy young women, often sit with tanders on Daumiller Berg. They smoke, drink, look into the distance and talk about the future, which should bring self-realization and freedom. Karin Michalke, 44, wrote the scripts for the trilogy “Beste Zeit”, “Beste Area” and “Beste Chance”, in which Kati and Jo play the leading roles; Marcus H. Rosenmüller was the director. Michalke comes from Tandern herself, and she has now caused a stir in her home village in the Dachau district. In a letter to the editor, she complained that a cattle barn plus manure foundation and silo should be built outside of the village – on Daumiller Berg, of all places.