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Merkel wants to take back control

The German government is due to adopt a toughening of the infection protection law on Tuesday, giving it increased power over regions to fight the pandemic after the failures of recent weeks.

The German government is due to adopt a toughening of the infection protection law on Tuesday, giving it increased power over regions to fight the pandemic after the failures of recent weeks.

(AFP) – Angela Merkel is backing down. If the regions had previously enjoyed the freedom to adapt their anti-covid device, the German Chancellor intends to put an end to it. His government must therefore adopt, on Tuesday, a toughening of the law on protection against infections, giving it increased power against the regions to fight the pandemic after the failures of recent weeks.

The objective of this text, supported by the conservatives and their Social Democratic ally, aims to impose harmonized restrictions throughout the country, wherever the epidemic incidence rate is high.

“We are in a dramatic situation (…) It is a question of saving lives”, affirmed the leader of the conservative parliamentary group Ralph Brinkhaus on public television ARD, considering it urgent to “pull now the ’emergency brake. ‘”, A device that triggers mandatory rules when an infection threshold is reached.

So far, measures to fight the coronavirus have been decided laboriously between the government and the regions, competent in health matters under German federalism. But the latter more or less acted as they liked, some applying, ignoring for others the decisions taken yet with their approval during marathon meetings with the Chancellor.

The result: a kaleidoscope of rules from place to place leading to growing confusion. All this, added to the slowness of the vaccination campaign, generated a loss of confidence in the authorities’ ability to manage the crisis, unwelcome less than six months before the legislative elections.

“The hardest”

For months, Angela Merkel has failed to rally some regional barons to her strict line as the second wave of the pandemic in the fall, then the third in March, with the arrival of the variants, swept over the country.

“This third wave is perhaps the hardest for us,” said the Chancellor on Monday, while the incidence rate stood at 136.4 in the country and the number of cases of infection exceeded the 3 million since the start of the pandemic.

The impossibility of imposing severe confinement at Easter, for which she had to ask “forgiveness” from the population, then the relaxation of restrictions in certain regions were the last straw for the Chancellor who had announced that she wanted to take matters into account. hand.

According to the bill, of which AFP has obtained a copy, the federal state may decide by ordinance to set up a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., to reduce contacts between private persons, and to close stores that are judged. non-essential, where the rate exceeds the threshold of 100 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over three days.

Above this value, schools will only accept students tested twice a week. They will close when the incidence rate exceeds 200. “There are currently more than 300 cantons which exceed this threshold (of 100, editor’s note), and in more than 50, the incidence is greater than 200”, underlined Monday the spokesperson for Chancellor Steffen Seibert.

Reviews

The idea is “to get as quickly as possible to a situation with lower infection rates whereby we can alleviate the restrictions with the use of tests,” he summed up. The project, still under discussion Monday, will have to be ratified at best this week in the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, according to the wishes of the government.

Most regions have joined, some are reserved, such as Lower Saxony. Its Minister of the Interior Boris Pistorius (SPD) thus judged “that taking powers from regions in the midst of a crisis (was) a big mistake”. The association of municipalities stressed for its part that the imposition of curfews could prove to be “problematic at the constitutional level”.

If the Greens are rather favorable, the liberals of the FDP, as well as the radical left Die Linke and the extreme right of the AfD, for their part have already announced their rejection of the text, which could be adopted without pass through the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, according to Brinkhaus. “We don’t need to have everyone on board with us,” he said.


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