As soon as we published her rant against lockdown hypocrites, Exberliner editor-in-chief Nadja Vancauwenberghe was ready for a backlash. Sure enough, in the days following its publication, we received a wave of emails both for and against her piece, showcasing a range of opinions towards the German government’s measures against the coronavirus. From lockdown hardliners to serial rule-breakers, these emails reflect the mixed feelings many of us have about the present – and future. We believe it’s important to showcase these views.
Here are some of those responses. Most have been edited for clarity.
Well, it’s a good piece and It’s fine to have a debate. It’s good to point out how people continue to violate restrictions, as well as the hypocrisy of local restrictions that allow cross-border travel (holidays!?). But, personally, I’m all for hard, or even harder, lockdowns.
Unfortunately Germany has never properly done it. Personally, I think it’s a huge mistake to reopen the schools right now, especially with the new variants circulating which are more effective at hitting younger people. Of course, I’d love my gym and the swimming pools to reopen, but I suspect that with the way the pandemic is being managed means that’s a long way off.
What you wrote about me in the piece wasn’t entirely accurate. I’m not on a crusade against mask-abstainers. Rather, because I have a chronic incurable health condition that puts me at higher risk. If someone near me is too close or not complying with the mask law, I always politely ask them to move back or cover up.
People forget to distance and mask sometimes – about a month ago I even wandered round in the big Edeka for about 4 minutes without my mask before I suddenly realised. Nobody had said anything and I wish they had.
Far from a brawl, in the tram incident you mentioned neither of us raised our voices. I was polite 99% of the time. After establishing her behaviour was deliberate I assumed she was simply ignorant and deployed the “broken record” assertiveness technique, asking her to cover up. Her finally cracking into violence was a single moment of someone mentally disturbed and full of adrenaline lashing out. She’s also a bit of a socio-pathic arsehole, but that’s by the by for first-time offenders! Jaw still out of place and causing tinnitus and regular headaches. Still trying to work through the bureaucracy to at least get medical treatment for that…
– A friend
We want to thank you for publishing this critical article. This is exactly how we feel as well. As two people running small experimental record labels and being supposedly in the “progressive left” scene, we´ve been struggling and lost many friends by being critical. We have been called Nazis or anti-semites by asking these same questions. It’s completely disheartening and hard to grasp. To have this critical view published at a place like Exberliner is a great step. One that will hopefully lead to some change in thought.
– Frustrated musicians
I also feel worn down by the lockdown. But for me, the problem is that the government has refused to implement a real lockdown. Except for a couple of weeks last March, factories and public transport have mostly been full. Looking how other countries have responded, it seems like just a month of real lockdown is enough to reduce the virus to manageable levels, and two months to eradicate it completely.
Instead of 1-2 months of real lockdown, we’ve had semi-lockdowns which are not effective, and as a result they are lasting forever. I think the answer is more lockdown rather than less. Get it over with, and then we could be back to techno festivals and indoor learning.
I share most of your thoughts… I am definitely going crazy meeting way to few people, but I got really scared after my boyfriend was positive and I had to face the bitter reality that the system – who I am following blindly – was failing me. I had to take care of everything on my own, with the worst support from the health system you could imagine.
I felt really upset and guilty for putting people in danger and potentially jeopardising their health. The answer to all my questions was: stay at home So we are still here after almost a year, but much more disheartened than before. Okay… now this turned into my rant.
– A fellow ranter
Thanks for sharing this. It is certainly a discussion we should be having. I am one of those err-on-the-side-of-caution types, and I think the least we can do is wear a mask and not pretend nothing is happening, party like it’s 1999, or choose conspiracy theories over science. But we need to have a conversation without hysterics because this is long from over. Many governments have been overwhelmed by the virus, fumbled the ball from the start, and kept up the confusion with mixed messages and contradictory regulations. I honestly don’t think they know what they’re doing.
Many governments have been overwhelmed by the virus, fumbled the ball from the start, and kept up the confusion with mixed messages and contradictory regulations.
How do we protect the most vulnerable? Whether they are the elderly, hospital workers, bus drivers and essential workers, small business owners and employees, people isolated or feeling desperate? And the cost of Covid, I’d say it’s past time to bring back all the offshore money, tax and regulate, as is deserved, Besos-Amazon and every billionaire and entity getting rich from the pandemic! And have a public conversation with the facts before us to understand the safest, smartest, most compassionate way forward.
– From Barcelona
There have been similar recent pieces from other big papers, like Zeit. I guess people want to come back to so-called “common sense”, which in my understanding is the good old healthy path of the middle – which you get with “curated” discussions between radical opposites, as you suggested. On the other hand, these entitled young kids do have loads of points – but yes it’s the open discussion that people like me also miss and the lack of it brings about all the superbullshit just like you said there. Good luck with this.
– From Berlin
Oh, yeah… It’s very different over here in Paris. People are no longer afraid to shout their frustration. They ask questions loud and clear about the choice that have been made. The curfew is not respected in the vast majority of cases. Including by me. I go out to dinner with friends. We no longer wear masks when together. My daughter brings her friends home. We’ve done what we had to do. Most of the old people have been vaccinated. It’s time to claim a little bit of normality.
– From Paris
I’ve been pretty pro-lockdown but I enjoyed reading. I think the big issue at the moment is that long-term lockdowns aren’t the answer – vaccines are. And Germany is doing an appalling job at administering them. That said, I’m also alarmed at the level of vaccine skepticism here. It’s an EU issue of supply but also of uptake. I think if people don’t want lockdowns they have to be prepared to take the vaccine, and right now a lot of people are unsure of both, which is worrying
The German government aren’t using this lockdown time effectively – if they’d sped up vaccines from the end of December, then it’d be much safer to unlock now. I think things might relax a bit this summer (though the third wave is definitely going to get a lot worse, having seen the impact of the variant on younger people in the UK) but the government will probably put people into lockdown again in autumn if they don’t hurry up and vaccinate.
The government will probably put people into lockdown again in autumn if they don’t hurry up and vaccinate.
And I won’t be pro-lockdown if that happens. Firstly, because I’m angry at how excruciatingly slow and poorly managed the vaccine rollout. Secondly, I think if you choose not to be vaccinated and COVID continues to circulate, then that’s on you, and people who have been vaccinated shouldn’t be made to suffer
It’s just crazy to me how badly France and Germany are handling this right now. There is a clear solution and they’re not embracing it. Vaccines may not lead to zero COVID but they’re +80/90% effective at reducing and managing it.
– Waiting for the vaccines