Corona pandemic: from the hotel to the ad hoc vaccination center



Reportage

Status: 12.12.2021 10:06 a.m.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, a local network has converted a hotel – and started a corona vaccination campaign. In this way, at least something good for the general public should emerge from the plight of the hotel and restaurant industry.

By Vera Schmidberger, SWR

People are queuing in front of the “Amtsgerichts Blick” hotel in Oppenheim am Rhein – and that for hours in cold, damp weather. You noticed that the hotel offered corona vaccinations that day. Christophe Lafargue and his wife are there for boosters, both are enthusiastic. Her family doctor would not have had an appointment for her until March.

Vera Schmidberger

Inside, hotel manager Andrea Weisrock, who made her house available for the campaign, is busy walking from room to room. Weisrock reports that immediately after the vaccination campaign became public, the response was enormous. Weisrock was most touched by the request from an old lady from Aschaffenburg in Bavaria, more than 80 kilometers away. When the 73-year-old heard that foreigners are welcome to come by, she burst into tears with relief.

The desperation is great

The team at a local internal medicine practice vaccinates in six rooms at the same time; They want to give 1000 vaccine doses here that day. “Everyone who goes out vaccinated shines like a cleaning bucket,” says the hotel manager.

But the fact that her hotel was able to become an ad hoc vaccination center has a serious background. The location is largely closed because there are no more overnight guests anyway. Weisrock’s employees have been on short-time work again since the beginning of December, and they had to cancel all mini-jobbers. The know-how alone that is being lost, according to Weisrock, is immense economic damage.

As in large parts of the hotel and catering industry, there is great despair: “There is too much to die for and too little to live”, says Weisrock, describing her economic situation. “My morale is down.” With the vaccination campaign, she would like to help ensure that life for all pandemic sufferers can soon return to normal. “We don’t want to wait, we want to actively do something,” said Weisrock.

“For me this is a lockdown”

The grilled sausages for the vaccination campaign in the hotel were sponsored by Eugenius Steckler, along with other traders. The restaurateur sees himself in the same situation as his colleague from the hotel industry: rejections are falling. Another group of 15 people has just canceled the Christmas dinner in Steckler’s restaurant. “People are deterred,” says Steckler. “It’s a lockdown for me.”

The different regional rules are still a problem. In Rhineland-Palatinate, 2G Plus applies – people who have been vaccinated and recovered also need a negative test in the catering industry, unless they are boosted. That’s why Steckler’s potential guests prefer to drive the short distance across the Rhine to Hesse instead of visiting him. 2G applies in the neighboring federal state – vaccinated and convalescent people do not have to present a negative corona test when visiting a restaurant there.

DEHOGA basically for 2G

“These regionally different regulations have a significant impact on the competitiveness of companies,” says the chief economist of the Federal Association of Medium-Sized Enterprises (BVMW), Dr. Hans-Jürgen Völz.

He has had many similar complaints, for example from Bavaria or Saxony. That is why his association, like the German hotel and restaurant association DEHOGA, is demanding 2G nationwide in order to prevent a nationwide lockdown. DEHOGA managing director Ingrid Hartges explains that many companies would at least have prospects despite the loss of sales.

Criticism of bridging aid

In view of the pandemic situation, the corona economic aid for companies has been extended. The so-called bridging aid IV applies from January to the end of March. The previous aid will essentially be continued. Advance payments are also planned. However, BVMW and DEHOGA criticize the fact that from January only 90 percent of the fixed costs will be reimbursed instead of 100 percent as before.

The associations also complain that those eligible to apply still have to prove a drop in sales of 30 percent in order to receive a surcharge for reimbursement of fixed costs. According to the BVMW, after almost two years of the corona crisis, only half as high a drop in sales of 15 percent should be sufficient as evidence.

Repairs requested

DEHOGA managing director Hartges warns that the right to fixed cost aid must also remain clear for companies that can no longer work economically due to 2G Plus or reduced opening times and therefore decide to close: “If the costs are higher than the income to be achieved , an independent closure must not lead to the loss of claims. ” Hartges sees a need for improvement here.

In principle, the business associations emphasize that the companies are already in the second year of the pandemic. Loans would now have to be repaid, deferred taxes would be due and reserves, if any, were often used up. BVMW chief economist Völz says: “Here the new federal government should be more conciliatory and flexible towards the middle class.” Ingrid Hartges adds: “Without the help that has already been given, 70,000 companies would probably not have survived.”

Short-time work allowance is increased

There is a ray of hope for the employees of companies with persistent difficulties due to the corona situation: They should be able to bridge the time with short-time work. On Friday, the Bundestag made it possible to increase the short-time work allowance that had already been extended.

The amendment introduced by the Ampel-Coalition provides that 70 percent of the net pay difference is paid from the fourth reference month – 77 percent with a child in the household. From the seventh reference month onwards, it is 80 and 87 percent, respectively.

Companies, in turn, have great expectations that vaccination campaigns will be accelerated. DEHOGA managing director Hartges reports on indignant company bosses who complained: Although they could have finally convinced many unvaccinated employees of the advantages of a vaccination, they would then not get a vaccination appointment. “That must now have absolute priority and be more professional,” demands Hartges.

Entrepreneurship boosts vaccination campaign

In any case, Weisrock and her colleagues did their part in the vaccination campaign in Oppenheim in Rhineland-Palatinate. And that, although the gap between vaccinated and opponents of the measures taken by the hotel manager is enormous. After all, she believes that it is the local entrepreneurs who have to implement the political decisions and thus justify them. When Weisrock recently had to cancel the room of a regular guest – on the grounds that she was unfortunately no longer allowed to accommodate him – “it was a huge escalation on the phone”.

After the long day with the vaccination event, it has become quiet again in the hotel. “Until we can really open again,” says Andrea Weisrock resignedly, “we will try to emotionally book the closure as a winter recovery”.


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