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Calls grow in Germany for uniform coronavirus rules

Germany's Interior Minister and Bavaria's State Premier have called for coronavirus regulations to be applied consistently across the country after some states failed to apply "emergency-brake" measures even as cases rise.

Calls grow in Germany for uniform coronavirus rules
Christof STACHE / AFP

On Sunday, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that there was a “great longing in the population for uniform rules”.

“My proposal, therefore, is to establish uniform regulations by a federal law,” the former leader of the CSU said.

The CSU or Christian Social Union is the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

READ ALSO: German politics – 10 things you need to know

“This law should precisely prescribe which steps would have to be taken for each of the incidence values – from tightening to easing [of restrictions,]” he said.

This proposal was echoed by Markus Söder, who succeeded Seehofer as premier of Bavaria and leads the CSU.

“To combat coronavirus effectively, we need a uniform, national pandemic plan instead of a patchwork of unclear rules in individual states, he told Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

This would allow so-called “emergency-brake” measures to be consistently applied when new infections exceeded 100 per 100,000 residents within a seven-day period.

He told the paper that Germany should also consider whether a further shorter but stricter lockdown might be better than a “half-hearted and therefore endless Corona concept, that has also not really reduced the number of new infections.”

READ ALSO: Covid-19 variants comprise ‘almost 90 percent of new cases in Germany’

Earlier, a government spokesperson told press agency DPA that the government was currently considering whether and how they could implement uniform rules to stem infections should state measures prove insufficient, the Rheinische Post reported.

“The states have all the instruments at their disposal. And we can see that in many states additional measures are being implemented, too,” the spokesperson told DPA.

Last week, Angela Merkel criticised some of Germany’s states for not implementing agreed Covid resolutions when case rates rose above 100 per 100,000 residents.

For the whole of Germany, on April 4th, the seven-day incidence rate stood at 127 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute.

This is slightly less than last Sunday’s figure of 130 per 100,000 residents.

The below chart from Our World in Data shows the rolling seven-day average of daily new confirmed Covid cases in Germany.

 

Speaking on the ARD programme Anne Will, Merkel said that if states didn’t do this “within the very foreseeable future”, she would have to consider ways to implement regulations at a national level.  

However, not everyone is in favour of national regulations.

Dietmar Bartsch, leader of Die Linke’s parliamentary group, told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers that uniform Covid-19 rules would not be enshrined in national law because “there is, rightly, no majority for this, either in the Bundestag [the lower house of parliament] or the Bundesrat [the upper house of parliament]”.

“All the legal options for managing the pandemic are available,” he said.

Bartsch also supported Health Minister Jens Spahn’s promise to give more freedom to those who have been fully vaccinated.

“If the scientific data confirms it is safe, of course vaccinated people should be able to exercise all their rights once again,” he said.

Earlier, Spahn promised more freedom to people who had received both doses of a Covid vaccine.

This was based on the Robert Koch Institute’s assessment of the latest scientific findings, which state that those who are fully vaccinated are no longer able to pass the virus on.

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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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