On Tuesday, the German government approved a bill from Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet, through which it could impose lockdowns outside the federal states. The law has not yet been approved in Parliament. This move is controversial in Germany. In recent months, German states have managed to decide for themselves how and when to deal with local disease outbreaks.
The lockdown has been in effect in Germany since late last year, but countries have many powers to set their own policies. This has resulted in a mixture of coronavirus measures in the country.
But there is more to it. Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that federal intervention in the fight against Coronavirus is necessary, because federal states always want to be less stringent than they deem necessary. Moreover, corona measures identified in joint consultation are often implemented slowly or not at the regional level. In the background, the Germans have to go to the polls again in September to elect a new parliament.
Several federal states vehemently oppose the new national rules, but the Bundestag will likely agree once the bill passes. The government will use emergency measures to obtain legislation quickly. Concretely, Berlin’s Emergency Brake Act, for example, would allow a local curfew to be imposed or shops or schools closed if pollution numbers in a particular part of the country were too high. Germany is grappling with the third wave of the virus and the government fears it is spinning out of control. On Monday, Merkel said the third wave in Germany was “perhaps the most difficult” so far.
The chancellor has always wanted a patriotic approach and he’s alarmed at federal states who currently have a big say in politics. The small Saarland region, for example, has interpreted a clause on “trial mitigation” from an agreement with Merkel and other federal states to mean that the main lockdown measures there have been completely scrapped recently.
Then draw the emergency brake yourself
Previously, it was agreed between Merkel and the state’s prime ministers that any mitigation measures would always be reversed if more than 100 new infections were discovered per week per 100,000 residents. “Emergency brakes” in case the corona numbers rise. But this agreement is not always fulfilled everywhere.
Merkel wants to verify with the amendment that she can “pull the emergency brakes” herself and impose restrictions on the population in the name of public health. Merkel’s seizure of power has been the subject of contention among the country’s prime ministers, who believe it is unwise to change the game in the midst of a crisis. Many of the chancellor’s critics argue that the curfew, as proposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., is blatantly unconstitutional.
Corona situation ‘very, very dangerous’
Yesterday, Germany, with a population of 84 million, surpassed the 3 million mark of corona infection. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German counterpart of Sciensano, reported 10,810 new cases of corona in one day on Tuesday morning and 294 new deaths were reported. In total, 78,746 Germans have already died from Covid-19. In hospitals, there has been a steady sharp increase in the number of Corona patients. The German Health Institute described the Corona situation in Germany as “very, very dangerous” on Sunday.
So Merkel wants all of Germany to temporarily enter into a strict national lockdown. She wants to cripple as many activities across the country as possible in a short period of time, because she believes this can stop the increase in the number of infections and hospitalizations.
According to insiders in the Christian Democrats, Merkel speaks of a “short bridge” to more normality. The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, had suggested such a “bridge closure”. Merkel’s party member believes stricter measures should cut short the period – yes – until more people are vaccinated against the virus.
About 15 percent of Germans have now received their first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine, according to figures released on Sunday. According to RKI, 12.7 million people have received at least the first dose. About 4.9 million people (5.9 percent) received both injections. The pace of the German vaccination program has increased dramatically recently since doctors started getting vaccinated.
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