Merkel backs ‘short national lockdown’ to slow down Covid spread

Merkel backs 'short national lockdown' to slow down Covid spread
Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 31st. Photo: DPA
Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of tightening virus restrictions in Germany for a short period to stem rising case numbers, her spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Merkel backs calls for a “short national lockdown”, Ulrike Demmer said, noting that the country’s health system was under growing pressure.

German politicians have been debating for several weeks over how to tackle the third wave.

The country has been in some form of shutdown since November, but has struggled to bring case numbers under control in recent weeks with a surge in the British variant of the virus.

At their last meeting on March 22nd, Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed national rules including strict shutdowns and possible curfews and other measures in areas with more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days.

But under Germany’s federal system, each state can ultimately decide its own rules. Some have failed to impose more restrictions in the face of more cases and even gone ahead with reopening measures.

The patchwork of rules “is not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment,” Demmer told reporters.

“The health system is under intense pressure,” she said, noting a five percent increase in occupied intensive care beds in just 24 hours.

Earlier on Wednesday Markus Söder, who’s head of the CSU – the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s CDU – told broadcaster ARD he was in favour of a “short, consistent lockdown”.

“But that only makes sense if everyone joins in,” he said.

On Monday CDU leader Armin Laschet had called for a “bridge lockdown” lasting two or three weeks in April to bridge the gap until more people are inoculated against coronavirus.

READ ALSO: Could a ‘bridge lockdown’ be the answer to Germany’s spiralling Covid cases?

Health experts have repeatedly said tougher action against Covid is needed due to variants spreading.

The next Covid crunch talks between Merkel and state leaders are scheduled for Monday April 12th.

Not enough uniform rules

In the debate over tougher measures, Söder said Germany needed uniform rules – and criticised states for going out on their own.

“The less consistent we are, the longer it will take (to break the Covid resurgence),” he said.

Meanwhile, federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has also called for a uniform approach throughout Germany – from “all 16 states, if possible”.

He said states must react with stronger measures when the number of cases per 100,000 residents within seven days goes above 100.

On Wednesday, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 9,677 new Covid-19 infections and 298 new deaths in the last 24 hours.

The actual numbers are likely even higher as the RKI said that generally, fewer tests are carried out and reported over public holidays, such as Easter.

The number of cases per 100,000 residents within a seven day period (7-day incidence) stood at 110.1 Germany’s aim is to keep this number below 100.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid intensive care numbers stay above 4,000


Member comments

  1. Can anyone see how proper countries have handled this; UK, Serbia, Israel, Hungary, USA, Dubai….they’ve VACCINATED their populations and now look forward to increasing freedoms, not more restrictions. The current government is not fit for purpose, should go and allow one with the necessary competence to take over the reins.

    1. Couldnt agree more. We have been locked down for SIX months now with no end on sight. The asnwer is not difficult.

      START VACCINATING PEOPLE!!!!

    2. Its poison to this government to admit they have done something wrong, and therefore will never change from the failed methods they have been using for 6 months. The fact they have not treated any of this as a truely national emergency is pathetic – closing vaccination centers at the end of the day, weekends, holidays, etc.

      Sadly, it seems all the politicians dont have the slightest clue how to lead, and not sure who could actually take over.

  2. I honestly do not know, or understand, the reasons behind the lack of a concise vaccine rollout in Germany. I only know that I want to be vaccinated now (even if I have to pay for it and be vaccinated at 3am in the morning…).

    I believe that a lot of red tape could be involved in the delay…and trying to adhere to rules and regulations supporting the EU and other countries.

    One thing springs to mind…
    When flying, we are always told to “place our oxygen masks on first before assisting others”.

    Maybe Germany, as one of the strongest economic power houses in the world, has to focus on, and take care of, its people first before helping others?

  3. This whole Covid-19 situation in Germany is a fine mess. I am very disappointed. This has not been done with the German efficiency that things are usually done here. Vaccinations started to late and there was too little vaccine. The lockdown on December 13 until March 16 ended for me when I came back to the USA to get vaccinated. To me, the Christians Democrat politicians making money from the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. What crooks? And no one is making them return the money they made! Is this a joke or what? Everything is open is in Pennsylvania and our infection rate is 33 per 100,000 in my county. Our population 1.3 Million. I hope German voters remember in the fall what a schlamassel this pandemic has been. I’m staying here until these lockdowns are history!

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