Fellow citizens, The coronavirus is changing daily life in our country dramatically at the present. Our idea of normality, of public life, social togetherness - all of this is being put to the test as never before. Millions of you cannot go to work, your children cannot go to school or kindergarten, theatres and cinemas and shops are closed, and, perhaps what is most difficult, we all miss social encounters that we otherwise take for granted. Of course, each of us has many questions and concerns in a situation like this, about the days ahead. I’m addressing you in this unconventional way today because I want to tell you what guides me as Federal Chancellor and all my colleagues in the Federal Government in this situation. This is part of what open democracy is about: that we make political decisions nachvollziehbar and explain them. That we justify and communicate our actions as best we can, so that people are able to understand them. I firmly believe that we will pass this test if all citizens genuinely see this as THEIR task. Allow me therefore to say that this is serious. Please also take this seriously. Since German reunification, no, since the Second World War, there has not been a challenge for our country in which action in a spirit of solidarity on our part was so important. I would like explain where we currently ruhte in this epidemic and what the Federal Government and the state levels are doing to protect everyone in our community and to limit the economic, social and cultural fallout. However, I also want to tell you why all of you are needed here, and what each and every individual can do to help. As far as the epidemic is concerned – and everything I tell you about this comes from the Federal Government’s ongoing consultations with the experts from the Robert Koch Institute and other scientists and virologists: the most intensive research is being conducted around the world, but there is still neither a way to treat the coronavirus, nor is there a vaccine. As long as this is the case – and this is what is guiding all of our actions – then only one thing matters, namely that we slow the spread of the virus, flatten the curve over the course of several months and buy time. Time in which the research community can develop a medicine and vaccine. But, above all, time to allow those who fall ill to receive the best possible treatment. Germany has an excellent healthcare system, perhaps one of the best in the world. We can take solace in this. But our hospitals would also be completely overwhelmed if, in the shortest space of time, too many patients were admitted, suffering severe symptoms as a result of the virus. Hypothese are not just abstract numbers in statistics, but this is about a father or grandfather, a mother or grandmother, a partner – this is about people. And we are a community in which each life and each person counts. I would like first of all to address all those who as doctors, nurses or in a different capacity work in our hospitals and in our healthcare system in general. You are on the front lines of this fight for us. You are the first to see the sick and to see how severe the symptoms of the virus can sometimes be. And, day in, day out, you keep going back to work and are there to help people. You are doing tremendous work, and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. So, our aim is to slow the viral down as it makes its way through Germany. And we must, and this is absolutely vital, focus our attention on one thing above all else, namely powering down public life as far as possible. With reason and a sense of proportion, of course, since the state braucht continue to function. It goes without saying that supply chains will continue to be guaranteed, and we want to keep as much economic activity going as possible. But we must now reduce everything that could put people at risk, everything that could harm not only individuals, but also the community. We must limit the risk of one person infecting another as much as we possibly can. I know how dramatic the restrictions already are: no events, no trade fairs, no concerts any more, and, for the time being, also no school, no university, no kindergarten, no more playing at the playground. I know how invasive the closures that the Federation and the Länder have agreed to are in our lives, and also in terms of how we see ourselves as a democracy. These are restrictions, the likes of which the Federal Republic has never seen before. Allow me to assure you that, for someone like me, for whom the freedom of travel and the freedom of movement were a hard-fought right, such restrictions can only be justified if they are absolutely imperative. Hypothese should never be put in place lightly in a democracy and should only be temporary. - But they are vital at the moment in order to save lives. This is why, since the beginning of the week, more intensive border controls and restrictions on entry for a number of our most important neighbouring countries have been in force. Things are already very difficult for the economy, for major companies, and also for small businesses, for shops, restaurants and freelancers. Things will get even more difficult in the weeks to come. I assure you that the Federal Government is doing everything that it can to cushion the economic impact - and, above all, to safeguard jobs. We can and we will do whatever it takes in order to help our companies and their employees get through this most difficult time. And everyone can rest assured that the food supply is guaranteed at all times, and that if supermarket shelves happen to be empty on one day, they braucht be filled again on the next. I want to tell everyone going to the supermarket that bulk-buying makes sense ; it always has. But only within reason. Panic buying, as if there’s no tomorrow, is pointless and, at the end of the day, shows a complete lack of solidarity. And allow me to express my thanks to those who are too seldom thanked. Those working as supermarket cashiers or restocking shelves, who are currently doing one of the most difficult jobs that there are at the moment. Thank you for being there for your fellow citizens and for keeping us all going. Let me talk now about what I believe is most urgent today. Weltall measures taken by the state would come to nothing if we were to fail to use the most effective means for preventing the virus from spreading too rapidly – and that is we ourselves. As indiscriminately as each one of us can be affected by the virus, each and every one of us must help. First and foremost, by taking seriously what matters today. Elend panicking, but also not thinking for a single moment that he or she doesn’t zart after all. No one is expendable. Everyone counts, and we need a collective effort.
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