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20 Apr, 2020 14:54

Merkel slams ‘DISCUSSION ORGIES’ of regional governments planning to ease Covid-19 restrictions

Merkel slams ‘DISCUSSION ORGIES’ of regional governments planning to ease Covid-19 restrictions

Germany is about to relax its quarantine restrictions, but some regions are planning to go too far, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned that such carelessness risks a major setback in fighting the virus.

Merkel took an unusually harsh tone as she said her government’s decision to gradually lift some restrictions imposed over the epidemic of the novel coronavirus has unleashed “discussion orgies” on further relaxing the rules, according to sources cited by the German dpa news agency.

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“We have not made it yet,” the chancellor said, warning that relaxing the rules too much could easily reverse all the progress the nation has achieved in fighting the disease and cause another spike in infection cases. Merkel, who spoke at a session of her Christian Democratic Union Party presidium, said that such discussions are particularly “not helpful” since they could prompt more people to abandon social distancing norms.

She added that the federal and regional governments will discuss how to proceed further on April 30. At the same time, she also said that the situation in the fields of economy and the public health could become clearer no sooner than May 8 or May 9.

Under the current agreement between the federal and regional authorities, shops and markets of up to 800 square meters are allowed to open their doors, provided they are able “to maintain hygiene” and allow visitors to maintain social distancing.

Not everyone seems to agree with the chancellor’s position, however. Some politicians said it was Merkel that took the quarantine issue too far. One of the deputy heads of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), Wolfgang Kubicki, said that the chancellor “assumes regulatory powers in the coronavirus crisis that she does not have.”

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Some German states, meanwhile, have already gone beyond the agreement with Berlin. The western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, for instance, also allowed zoos and shopping malls on its territory to open.

Other areas, like the southern state of Bavaria, which was most severely affected by the epidemic, are further tightening the restrictions instead of relaxing them. Bavaria in particular plans to introduce the mandatory wearing of face masks in all shops and public transport starting next week.

Germany is arguably faring better in its fight against Covid-19 than other European nations such as Italy or Spain, but it is still quite far from beating the disease that has infected more than 145,000 and claimed more than 4,600 lives nationwide.

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