Editor in the “Money & More” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Corona or not, we’re talking about the weather. It’s raining in Frankfurt, but that doesn’t bother my wife and me, our workplaces are dry. We find the weather forecast for the North Sea island of Amrum, where we want to spend the second Hessian autumn vacation week, less pleasant. The weather app shows nothing but a cloud with five blue stripes underneath. We decide not to let the foreseeable rainy days spoil our mood. We want to go on vacation and neither the weather nor anything else will keep us from looking forward to it.
At least we think so. Until the afternoon when we received two reports that for us are a damned mixture. On the one hand: In Frankfurt the number of people infected with corona is increasing and with it the incidence value, it is no longer far below the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. A few dozen more cases and we’d live in a risk area. The other terrible news: Schleswig-Holstein may not want us at all, neither on its island of Amrum nor anywhere else. The country has a ban on accommodation. Travelers from “domestic high-incidence areas”, as the updated state ordinance states, must be quarantined for 14 days after arrival. 14 days!
The quarantine would double the stay in our rented vacation home (or would we be put in the barn?). It would be nothing with walks on the beach, mudflat hikes and visits to restaurants. And my colleagues at home wouldn’t be amused if they had to take on my pile of work for an extra week. If we did not adhere to the regulations, we would have to pay a fine of up to 10,000 euros. Schleswig-Holstein offers a way out: two negative corona tests every five days, then we are allowed in. We are devastated.
Today we’re angry. Angry at Schleswig-Holstein, which does not care about a common German corona policy and is more strict than all other federal states. Angry at the federal government, which allows foreign travelers from risk areas a free corona test, but makes cautious domestic travelers like us bleed. And we’re pissed off at all the Frankfurters who cheerfully party without a mask, infect each other and drive up the incidence value. Today it is 47, the health department head says that 50 will be exceeded by Thursday at the latest.
Red alert, also for our vacation. The bitter irony: We had canceled a previously booked holiday in the Netherlands when the infections detected there skyrocketed, and we were relying on Germany and its politicians. What a mistake! Every federal state does what it wants. Federalism is freedom in Corona times, says a political scientist on Deutschlandfunk. He’s probably crazy.
We panic looking for other travel destinations. Lower Saxony has rather lax rules, but we know our country of birth inside out. We also know the East well. We are not allowed to go hiking and drinking wine in the Palatinate because Rhineland-Palatinate is as strict as Schleswig-Holstein. Suddenly there is hope: Many politicians are just as angry about the advance of the two hardcore countries as we are. The country heads want to speak the next morning.
Two reasonably good news: the incidence value in Frankfurt remains at 47. And Schleswig-Holstein was whistled back. The federal states decide: Anyone who comes from a risk area does not have to be in quarantine, but needs a negative corona test that is no more than 48 hours old before the first night. We don’t care that some federal states do not adhere to it. Our vacation is getting closer.
Late in the evening we register for a corona test. As a precaution, so that we are not nastily surprised on the trip to Schleswig-Holstein when Frankfurt becomes a risk area. The cheap test variant has to be enough: 59 euros per throat. The fact that we cannot pay because the system is collapsing makes us sweat again. After several attempts it works. Phew
At 5 p.m. the time has come: Frankfurt is a risk area, the incidence value is 59. We are nervous. Are the federal states sticking to the line they adopted yesterday, or are they taking the rule chaos to the next extreme? Tomorrow morning we want to have the corona test. Thank God we live in Frankfurt, at the airport we can be tested without an appointment.
We get up at half past five and are wide awake at half past seven: the line in front of the airport test center is 200 meters long! Everyone who works there says they haven’t seen anything like it since April. The fact that Frankfurt has become a risk area has made everyone interested in traveling overnight. The smear is taken two hours later. In the afternoon we head north, overnight on the way. In the evening we get the result: negative. We cannot be stopped now. And above all, ripe for the island.