Between relaxation and strictness: Merkel and the end of the lockdown

Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded a longing for an open perspective

picture alliance / Michael Kappeler / dpa-Pool / dpa

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) officially confirmed on Monday what has already become apparent over the past few weeks: If there is an infection in Germany, there will be a multi-stage easing plan. The way out of lockdown will therefore take months.

According to participants, Merkel says in the CDU presidium that she is concerned with three strands: personal contacts, schools and vocational schools as well as sports, restaurants and culture. These three should be put together as packages to allow openings. However, the rules should be adapted if necessary. The various steps would have to be coupled with the possibility of corresponding rapid tests. At the same time, Merkel warned of a yo-yo effect when relaxing.

With this, Merkel, who recently categorically opposed openings, is following the course of many country leaders. Weeks ago, Lower Saxony, Thuringia, Schleswig-Holstein and Berlin had developed incidence-dependent step-by-step plans for a way out of lockdown in their federal state. But at the last federal-state round, at which it was decided to extend the lockdown until March 7, they were just as unable to assert themselves as they were with their demands to allow business to be relaxed from an incidence of 50 or more.

On Monday, however, Merkel spoke of a “justified longing” for an opening strategy – probably also in the knowledge that adherence to the status quo could no longer be maintained. As early as mid-January, government advisor Merkel and the country leaders had shown on the basis of mobility data that people at the beginning of the year obeyed the rules significantly less and did not stay at home than was the case in November or December. In addition, the weather is now getting better and people are pushing outside.

How exactly the opening plan will look like, however, Merkel left it open on Monday. Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, a working group consisting of Chancellery chief Helge Braun (CDU) and several heads of state and senate chancelleries is to develop a corresponding concept until the new Corona summit of the federal and state governments on March 3rd.

According to a corresponding paper from Berlin, which is currently chairing the Prime Minister’s Conference, the opening levels would be based on incidence values ​​35, 20 and 10. In this case, restaurants and tourist offers are only likely to open from an incidence of 20, shops from 35.


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