Germany entered a new phase of lockdown, including a nationwide curfew after the adoption of a controversial law. Chancellor Angela Merkel considered it “urgent” to contain the third wave of the Coronavirus.
At a time when a large number of European countries, such as Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and France, decided to ease restrictions, the first European economic power is going against the tide, activating what it calls “emergency brakes” stipulated in the reform of the law on protection from infectious diseases.
The consultant said in her weekly statement that this mechanism “is a new method in our battle against the epidemic. I am convinced of it: we need it urgently.” And she added, “If we can reduce the number of infections clearly and quickly, we will be able to reduce Actions gradually in the near future. ”
If the infection rate exceeds the 165 thresholds, students will be prohibited from going to school.
On Saturday, the infection rate reached an average of 164.4 in the country, as the closures were never as stringent as they were in neighboring countries such as France and Spain.
The automatic imposition of measures at the national level would put an end to the tension with the regions, some of which have modified and even ignored the strict measures, although it was decided to apply them with the approval of the district administrations.
If cities or districts exceed a seven-day incidence rate of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over three consecutive days, then local authorities must:
- Restrict personal contacts to one household and one other person, not counting children under 14. Exemptions include meetings of spouses and partners or the exercise of custody and access rights.
- Implement a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew with exceptions for walking and jogging alone until midnight. Other exceptions could be made for emergencies, professional practice, nursing and care, animal care, or other significant reasons.
- Ensure nonessential shops only allow customers in with a negative COVID-19 test and an appointment. If the incidence rate exceeds 150, customers can only pick up preordered goods (also known as click & collect).
- Close in-person teaching at schools if the incidence rate exceeds 165. Exceptions for graduating classes and special schools are possible. From 100 to 165, alternate attendance teaching days are required.
- Limit funerals to 30 mourners.
For the government, it is very important to control the epidemic. The disease has killed more than 841,000 people in the country for a year, and the third epidemic wave, which witnessed the rapid spread of mutated versions of the virus, has not yet reached its peak, according to infectious disease specialists.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the matter is related to “breaking the third wave of the virus” and relieving medical personnel facing a massive influx of people with Covid-19, then “gradually reopening with the use of enhanced examinations.”
The text includes new restrictions on private friction, the closure of non-essential stores and museums, and the increasing use of remote work.
The most controversial measure is to impose a curfew between ten in the evening and five in the morning, with exceptions if there are necessities to work. It will also be possible to practice one-on-one until midnight.
“No country has succeeded in breaking the third wave of the epidemic without drastic measures such as preventing exit,” Merkel said.
However, the issue is very sensitive in a country that witnessed a dictatorship twice during the Nazi era and under the German Democratic Republic. Some consider this measure to be contrary to the constitution, especially the liberals of the Free Democratic Party.
The Karlsruhe Supreme Court has already received 25 petitions against the law, according to one of its spokespersons. Among them is the petition of the “Freie Feller” (Free Voters) party, the conservative partner of the Christian Social Union in the Bavarian regional government, which wants to cancel the curfew and close shops.
The exit ban could cause disruptions to travel by trains and planes. On Friday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior advised people who did not have a reason, especially one related to work, not to travel and to postpone their projects.
The regions also seemed to be very suspicious of the curfew, so the head of the Hesse region’s government, Volker Bouvier, considered that it should only be applied at the local level and as a “last resort”.