So far, supermarkets in Germany have been exempt from all corona restrictions. But now the grocers should also close before Easter – even if only on Maundy Thursday. However, this causes sharp criticism from the German Trade Association (HDE).
This is counterproductive, warns the association. The closure on Maundy Thursday leads to an increased number of customers on the previous Wednesday and the following Easter Saturday, said HDE Managing Director Stefan Genth. “Symbolically closing the grocery trade with its demonstrably well-functioning hygiene concepts for a day does not help in the fight against the pandemic,” he criticized.
Instead, Genth called for easing. “The federal and state governments only operate in tunnel mode,” he said. “The sole fixation on the corona incidence values does not do justice to the complex situation.” The measures would have to be based on scientific facts. “And they show that the risk of infection is low when shopping.” It is therefore high time to draw the appropriate conclusions and to reopen all shops in compliance with strict hygiene concepts, Genth demanded.
He referred to the situation of those traders who are not active in the food sector. A good every second retailer of clothing, shoes and leather goods see themselves in danger of bankruptcy. “After a year with Corona, the situation at many retailers is desperate, in many places there is no longer any hope of being able to survive this crisis economically,” said Genth.
FDP supports the opening of the trade
The FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag also criticizes the planned stricter lockdown rules over Easter. “A total lockdown before and after Easter is counterproductive,” said parliamentary deputy Stephan Thomae of “Welt”. “It’ll be even more crowded in retail stores before and after such a lockdown.”
Even if it sounds »counter-intuitive«, an extension of the shop opening hours would be correct instead, argued Thomae. Such a procedure “would straighten customer flows and reduce the risk of infection.”
The federal and state governments agreed on Tuesday night to tighten the lockdown from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. All shops should then remain closed, only food retailers can open on Holy Saturday.
Economists lower growth forecast
The resolutions also have an impact on the economic outlook. Commerzbank is lowering its growth forecast for the German economy this year from 4.5 to 3.5 percent. “For our economic forecast we had previously assumed that there will be significant and not just symbolic easing from April,” said chief economist Jörg Krämer. “After tonight’s decisions, this assumption has become unrealistic.”
It can now be assumed that the lockdown in its current or slightly weakened form will remain in force until the end of May. “In terms of the economy as a whole, the hard lockdown will reduce gross domestic product by four percent while it is still in effect,” said Krämer. “That corresponds to an economic loss of a good ten billion euros per month.”