Zoom Meeting: First Steps towards old Freedoms

Second Videoconference Meeting: First Steps towards old Freedoms

writes Norbert Maibücher, Leverkusen

In mid May, 2021, Mary Temperton, Chair of the Bracknell Twinning Association and host of the ZOOM-meetings with Freundeskreis (Circle of Friends) Leverkusen-Bracknell, was happy to count 17 faces on the little monitors of the Zoom screen for the second round of our digital get-togethers.

Of course the first item on the agenda was an invitation to everybody to talk about how they had experienced the previous weeks since the first virtual meeting. The participants came up with stories of how they had enjoyed going shopping in the mall, how they had had a day out in London with a visit to the Tate Gallery, or how their voluntary work at the kindergarten or the food bank had been possible again and how grateful the young and the old had been for their being there.

What was quite interesting for the German listeners was how the social distancing rules were enforced in England. Whereas here the municipal public order office or the police, i.e. legal authorities, understaffed for such duties, are in charge in public spaces, and security personnel watches the entrance and exit of the shops that are open, there are plenty of marshals around in the shopping areas and precincts in Britain who remind people of the rules and regulations and see to it that people abide by them. They cannot fine people, but they can call police for help. Sounds sensible.

And then we Germans learnt – again with jealousy – that all the vaccinations that have taken place in Britain have been digitally recorded and citizens can prove their Covid status in a simple way on their NHS app. In Germany the development of the digitalisation of health data is way behind, for one thing because of – maybe exaggerated – worries about data protection and competing business interests, but also due to failures in the health administration in our federal system.

The second major point on the agenda was the rise to fame of our committed member Henry Artelt in the media in Bracknell and Berkshire. That is the focus of a second article about the meeting on the German side of the dual website of the twinned towns. He is now better known in Bracknell than in Leverkusen, that is why this does not need explaining here …


Henry Artelt

Link to Freundeskreis Bracknell-Leverkusen website article (in German)