Merkel Approves ‘Short National Lockdown’ To Curb Virus
Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of tightening virus restrictions in Germany for a short period to stem rising case numbers, her spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Merkel backs calls for a “short national lockdown”, Ulrike Demmer said, noting that the country’s health system was under growing pressure.
Germany has been in some form of shutdown since November but has struggled to bring case numbers under control in recent weeks with a surge in the British variant of the virus.
At their last meeting in March, Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed national rules including strict shutdowns and possible curfews in areas with more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days.
But under Germany’s federal system, each state can ultimately decide its own rules. Some have failed to impose more restrictions in the face of more cases and even gone ahead with reopening measures.
The patchwork of rules “is not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment,” Demmer told reporters.
“The health system is under intense pressure,” she said, noting a five percent increase in occupied intensive care beds in just 24 hours.
Germany recorded almost 10,000 new infections nationwide and a seven-day incidence rate of 101.1 on Wednesday, though the Robert Koch Institute health agency warned the real number could be higher because of a lag in reporting after the four-day Easter weekend.
Voices calling for a short, sharp shutdown in recent days have included Armin Laschet, the head of Merkel’s CDU party, who called for a “bridge lockdown” to tide the country over until more people have been vaccinated.
Merkel and the regional leaders are next due to meet on Monday.