(Natural News) German parents whose children are suspected of being infected with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) are being threatened with fines and even jail time if they don’t quarantine their children in their own rooms.
In the city of Bruchsal, in the southwest state of Baden-Wurttemberg, dozens of fourth-graders were sent home after a teacher was found to have caught COVID-19. Meanwhile, in the town of Dreieich near Offenbach, a kindergarten was shut down after a child of pre-school age tested positive for the coronavirus.
In both cases, the children brought a note from the local health authority that ordered the parents to not only make their children wear a mask at home but also instructed them to completely isolate the child from other family members during the two-week quarantine period, mealtimes included. (Related: A town in Germany prevented 40% of coronavirus infections by masking up.)
“Your child must avoid contact with other household members in the household by ensuring that there is a separation in time and space,” reads a letter from authorities to one family. “No meals together. Your child should preferably be alone in a room separate from other household members.”
Should parents be found to be disobeying these orders, the note warned that the children could be forcibly removed by authorities and quarantined in an isolation facility.
Order criticized by pro-family organizations
A number of pro-family organizations in Germany have criticized local governments for their reactions, saying that these infringe on parental rights.
The non-governmental organization Families in Crisis, through its spokesperson Diane Siegloch, stated that the orders amounted to “cruelty” and were a “threat to the wellbeing of children.”
Siegloch pointed to regulations in the neighboring country of Denmark, where parents were explicitly encouraged to have physical contact with their children – to hold and hug them for comfort while they were under quarantine.
Heinz Hilgers, head of children’s lobby group Kinderschutzbund, wrote that the orders were “disproportionate and unacceptable.” He argued that regular quarantine requirements already put families in a difficult situation without them.
“We have been made aware of a case of one 8-year-old whose parents were explicitly told that the child would be removed from the home, if they refuse to comply with the isolation order,” he wrote.
He also expressed alarm over threats to remove children from their families. “The parents can and should be included in any coronavirus quarantine measures affecting their children,” Hilgers said.
Meanwhile, Hedwig von Beverfoerde, founder of “Demo fur Alle” and leader of pro-family demonstrations in Germany, compared the letters to actions from totalitarian regimes, including Nazi Germany.
“Such measures exceed every measure and are otherwise known from totalitarian states, such as, at one point, Nazi Germany, East Germany, China or North Korea,” von Beverfoerde said.
Local authorities claim they were misunderstood
Reacting to the outrage, local authorities claimed that they were misunderstood and that there were no concrete plans to remove any children from their families without their parents’ consent.
“We simply wanted to make sure that children do not spread the virus,” wrote Offenbach health authorities in a statement.
“Obviously parents may still look after their children,” their press release reads. “It is necessary to find realistic ways to ensure this. For example, it is preferable to minimize contact among siblings as much as possible.”
Lawyer Arndt Kempgens explained that under German law, “children may only be removed from their legal guardians and taken into custody in extreme instances when there is an extreme threat to the children’s health and safety and all other measures have failed.”
Offenbach authorities also suggested that their information leaflet had been intentionally misunderstood, stating that they were simply required by law to mention the penalties.
“We are obliged to mention the possibility of a fine if quarantine regulations are violated,” they explained. “But of course parents can and should tend to their children.”
The local authorities have since stated that they’re now reaching out to affected families to explain the legal situation and address any concerns they may have.
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