On Wednesday evening, all residents of Mitterteich the same white A4 paper in the mailbox. Headline: “Implementation of the Infection Protection Act”. One applies immediately in the city Curfew, initially until April 2nd. An infringement is punishable. Janet Thoma, 31, also found the letter in her mailbox. But that she and her family were only allowed to leave their apartment for two weeks for shopping, visiting a doctor and with a certificate of commuting to work, she knew, like many in town, a few hours before, via an emergency message on her cell phone. And if you shouldn’t have noticed that before, the fire department reached: They drove through the streets and announced the decision over loudspeakers. “I hadn’t expected it before,” says Thoma. But in retrospect, she wonders more about the carelessness in her church and less that it has come to this.
Mitterteich is the first city in Germany to have a curfew. And if you look at Mitterteich now, you could look into the future of Germany. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder has already threatened a Bavaria-wide curfew – and Bavaria has often been a pioneer in corona crisis management in recent days. Söder initially closed schools and daycare centers across the country, but now they are no longer open anywhere in Germany. It was here that the disaster case was first proclaimed, the Abitur was postponed and small businesses promised immediate help.
As the district administrator Wolfgang Lippert in front of the press on Wednesday afternoon kicks, he is exhausted. Nevertheless, he looks routine. It is not the first time these days that he has called a press conference.
Even the day before there was no question of a curfew, the aim was to sensitize the citizens with handouts and announcements from the fire brigade to avoid social contacts, says Lippert. An appeal to reason to avoid drastic measures, as the Chancellor did. “But today the situation has changed,” says Lippert. Over the weekend, the number of confirmed corona cases rose from ten to 30, and to 47 by Wednesday. The civil protection staff is therefore of the opinion that the measures must be further strengthened, said Lippert.
Empty road and big confusion
In Mitterteich, the Germany-wide pioneering role in the curfew on the first day meant above all: great confusion among the residents, overloaded citizens’ phones and press offices. But also: empty streets, much less busy in the shops. According to the first police report, people largely adhered to the new rules.
Almost 6,600 people live in the small town in the Upper Palatinate in eastern Bavaria at the end of 2018. Just under half of the population of Mitterteich is over 50, almost a quarter over 65. The number of residents has been falling since the 1970s. Anyone who does not live in the area knows the city at most because of the federal road that passes here and twelve kilometers further to a border crossing to the Czech Republic. However, it has been closed since Saturday.
Many citizens are surprised that their city is the first in Germany to impose a curfew. In Facebook groups, some Mitterteicher rage against the city dwellers, who still sit happily next to each other in cafes and drive on the subway, while in the countryside, where people are actually less likely to get close to large groups anyway and keep their distance, it is easier now Prohibitions apply. How could it come so far here in a small town?
The mood could change
There are 62 confirmed Corona cases in the district, it said in a press release from the Tierschenreuth district office this Thursday, and the focus was on the city of Mitterteich. In absolute numbers, this is far less than in many other cities – but in relation to the number of residents, the rate is far higher than in Munich, for example.
Speaking to citizens, the mood in the city seems to be slowly turning since the curfew. Until yesterday, residents in forums mainly shared information about the shopping service for older people and were happy about aid measures for retailers. But now people read about blame and disputes about whether everyone would take the crisis seriously enough. One of them wrote in a Facebook group that the police couldn’t control the curfew around the clock. Those who have relationships can take advantage of that. Others are outraged and ask people to stay in the city so that the crisis is contained and the curfew is not extended.