Coronavirus rules: selfish disobedience?

Passengers on public transport without masks, demonstrations where protesters don't follow the distancing rules, partying at bars - after months of sticking to the rules of the pandemic it seems that more and more people are no longer willing or able to accept these restrictions on their everyday life. Commentators consider how to deal with this and discuss what we mean by freedom.

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Večernji list (HR) /

Responsibility now means restricting oneself

Italy's President Sergio Mattarella declared in a speech on Friday that freedom cannot mean the freedom to infect others. Večernji list agrees:

“There are also those in Italy who believe that wearing protective masks is unnecessary and that the measures to be followed are a restriction of freedom. But spreading the disease to others is not a freedom. ... Freedom does not mean not having to comply with regulations, not having to wear masks, not being vaccinated and thus endangering the health of others. It's sad that some politicians don't understand this, because by adopting such an attitude they are not defending freedom but harming themselves and others.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Reason on the path to freedom

Aargauer Zeitung analyses the situation with reference to the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel:

“Freedom, according to Hegel, is not simply doing what one wants to do, but being able to do what seems reasonable after very careful reflection. This also includes making errors, but not mere recklessness. ... We can only speculate on how he would draw the line between individual liberty rights and disease control measures today. But he would certainly not condemn every state act aimed at protecting people's health. And he would probably be annoyed at people who consider it their right to endanger the life and health of others. ... Reason can mean renouncing the exercise of freedom in the present in order to preserve it for the future”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Explain, don't condemn

In view of the increasing number of cases among young people and images of young people partying without distancing and masks, critics are already blaming the young for a "second wave". But it's not as simple as that, warns El Periódico de Catalunya:

“It is far more effective to rely on educative measures that are clear and coherent, and which in many cases have been lacking, than on a punitive approach. And we should also listen to them. ... The job market is closing its doors on those born in the 21st century, the economic crisis is clouding their plans for the future just as they are starting out, and they have just gone through a lockdown that has increased their desire to socialise. Branding them as irresponsible without even trying to understand their reasons won't get us anywhere.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

We're all tired of the rules

Tens of thousands demonstrated against the coronavirus rules in Berlin on the weekend, with many of the protesters blatantly disregarding them. The taz warns against simply dismissing these people as dumb and careless:

“The fact that thousands sat on a bus for a whole day to take part in a rally shows that we must take this seriously. ... It's probably not that difficult even for educated people who believe in science to end up in this group. To be irritated by the requirement to wear mouth and nose protection, to have a healthy distrust in the state or be frustrated about paying additional taxes, and then on top of that perhaps you have a good friend who's a bit esoteric and goes along with you to the march. In any case it has become impossible to classify the protest - like much of the debate on dealing with corona - as a right- or left-wing political reaction.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Punish recklessness

Tageblatt finds it unacceptable that the protesters in Berlin neither kept their distance nor wore masks:

“And the police let them go on for hours. The right to demonstrate is a key constitutional asset. But if health rules are deliberately disregarded in its name, the state must intervene consistently. And not just during protest marches. In the last three weeks of July there were 30,000 violations of the obligation to wear masks on public transport in the [German] capital alone. But in only 200 cases was a fine imposed. The call for tougher penalties seems rather hollow in view of this practice.”

Primorske novice (SI) /

A question of respect

Consideration our for fellow human beings is key, Primorske novice stresses:

“It is already clear that people should respect other people in their family, circle of friends, neighbourhood, at work and in general all people with whom they coexist. This is a matter of basic respect for others. This is the way it is when you wish good things on everyone and don't want to harm anyone. It also means respecting the measures that are designed to maintain health - our own and those of the people around us. In the age of the coronavirus, there are simple measures for this which even small children can master.”