Meanwhile, Kraatz can breathe a sigh of relief. Since June 15, daycares in Brandenburg and other states have reopened. In August, when her son is scheduled to start school, classes will also be held normally again. Assuming, of course, that infection rates don’t spike again.
If that happens, it’ll be mothers like Kraatz who will have to pick up the slack. An online survey of 7,700 participants, conducted by the left-leaning Economic and Social Science Institute of the Hans Böckler Foundation at the beginning of the crisis, revealed that 27 percent of mothers had already reduced their working hours due to daycare and school closures. Among fathers, it was only 16 percent.
Economic disadvantages are also a threat to children involved. “Even with interruptions of a just few weeks” as a result of the pandemic, “long-term negative macroeconomic effects” can be expected, warns a group of education researchers in an appeal titled, “Make education possible.”
In order to provide meaningful education in case of a second and third wave of infections, money must be invested now, says Christa Katharina Spiess, an education expert at DIW.
However, in the government’s crisis planning to date, education and childcare have hardly played a role. In the federal government’s 130 billion-euro economic stimulus package, there were a meager 3 billion euros earmarked for the expansion of schools and daycares. Another 4.3 billion euros were earmarked for a one-off “bonus” of 300 euros per child, which parents will now receive. “I find this response relatively unimaginative,” says Spiess, “and, in relation, it’s nowhere near enough.”
Just half a year ago, Olaf Knieriem thought himself to be well on his way to a successful future. With his planning agency for trade show construction, Expoworks, he had had a turnover of 2 million euros, year after year. The order books for 2020 were full. Then the coronavirus hit. Knieriem sits with his son, Daniel, in the top-floor office of a multi-purpose building in Knüllwald-Remsfeld, south of Kassel. The two seem simultaneously determined and powerless. According to the Munich-based Ifo Institute, the trade show, exhibition and congress industry generates an annual revenues of 8 billion euros. Around 60 percent of the world’s leading trade shows are held in Germany. According to figures from the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, the cancellation of more than 110 trade shows this year endangers around 92,000 jobs — and several small companies, such as Expoworks.
In March, business collapsed. In April, the elder Knieriem realized the situation would remain dire until the end of the year. What’s more: “The business model of trade show construction is on the line.”