A building that used to host people seeking asylum in Germany is being converted into a “corona jail,” a detention facility for people who repeatedly violate quarantine, the German tabloid Bild reported.
The facility is located in the northern part of Dresden, Saxony and was built in 2017 at a cost of 30 million euro ($36.4 million) to host people waiting for their petitions for asylum in Germany to be processed. Now the state authorities are converting it into a detention center meant for repeat quarantine violators, according to the newspaper.
A person not isolating voluntarily when ordered to will be given a warning, then a fine, and if that doesn’t work, a court may take their freedom, officials explained, adding that the measure is meant “to protect third parties from the unruly behavior of the person being accommodated” at the facility. The site has a fence with barbed wire on top, judging by the photo published by Bild, and is said to have police guards.
In April, the Saxony government earmarked 22 rooms at four mental hospitals to keep quarantine breakers in custody, but backtracked after public uproar. The idea of imprisoning people at a psychiatric ward appeared Sovietesque to many – some dissidents in the Eastern bloc were infamously diagnosed as mentally ill and locked up. So Michael Kretschmer, the president minister of the federal state, dropped it even as his health minister complained that her plan was mischaracterized by bad faith critics.
Germany this week has surpassed two million Covid-19 infections and is recording a rise in the death rate, with the fatalities count almost reaching 45,000 on Friday. Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet regional leaders next Tuesday, pushing forward a gathering that was initially scheduled for January 25, to discuss further lockdown measures.
Berlin hopes more restrictions would win time for the ongoing vaccinations to take hold. So far only about 1.2 percent of the country’s population have been given the injection, and it takes weeks and a second dose of the vaccine for the immune response to build up.
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