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.
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.
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.