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Germans face new Covid blocking rules that may last until June

Germany has implemented strict blocking rules in an attempt to contain a third wave of infections, issuing a set of new measures that are expected to last until June.

Protests were seen in several German cities after restrictions were introduced this weekend at the critical points of the coronavirus.

The curfew, the limitation of customers in stores, the closing of leisure centers and the limitation of home contacts are part of the measures.

Germany has struggled to suppress a third wave, largely attributed to the spread of a more infectious strain of the virus, which emerged in the UK last fall.

By implementing an “emergency brake across the country”, cities or districts that exceed a seven-day incidence rate of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants on three consecutive days must now implement the blocks.

Schools are expected to close if incidence rates are above 165 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three consecutive days.

Data from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health agency, show that all but one of Germany’s 16 states are over the limit for the emergency brake to take action, and seven states have an incidence rate above 165. The national average of seven days of cases per 100,000 people stood at 169.3 on Monday.

The measures, set out in the Infection Protection Act, effectively expand the federal government’s authority to control the pandemic. German states have been largely able to define their own rules, leading to variations across the country, with some states reluctant to impose stricter measures despite the increase in infections.

However, the measures – and, mainly, the curfew, which will start from 22h. at 5 am and allows people to leave the house only if they have to go to or from work, seek medical attention or take the dog for a walk – they have provoked fury in some members of the public, with small demonstrations taking place in several cities in the world. weekend, mainly in Frankfurt and Hanover.

Do what it takes’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the new rules, calling for compliance.

“If we can now reduce infections significantly and quickly, step-by-step relaxation will be possible in the foreseeable future,” she said in her weekly video podcast.

“Let us now do what is necessary once again and, together, show consideration and responsibility.”

“What we are hearing from the doctors and the nursing staff, are real cries for help,” she said. “We – the state, society, citizens – we all have to help,” she added.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he did not think the measures would be relaxed before the end of May, while German Health Minister Jens Spahn told the German Parliament, the Bundestag, that “the situation it is serious, very serious. “

While vaccines and tests provide some way out of the pandemic, just “reducing contacts and thereby reducing transmission of the infection” can contain the third wave, said Spahn.

The new measures may further undermine the popularity of Merkel’s ruling conservative alliance, the Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union.

A second election poll now puts the Green Party ahead of the CDU-CSU bloc. Kantar’s survey for Bild am Sonntag found support for the Greens at 28%, 1 percentage point above support for CDU-CSU. If the greeners’ positive momentum continues and is confirmed in the September federal elections, the greens may be the most powerful influence in a likely coalition government with the conservative bloc.

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