Berlin, Apr 16 (EFE).- German chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday defended proposals to grant federal authorities more power to enforce strict health and safety controls, including a curfew, in order to break a third wave of Covid-19 in the country.
“The situation is serious, very serious,” Merkel told the Bundestag, the country’s lower house of parliament. “The third wave of the pandemic has the country in its grip.”
The proposed changes to the Infection Protection Act would allow federal powers to override regional authorities in Germany’s 16 states.
The new rules could include a curfew between 9pm and 5am in zones with a weekly incidence rate of more than 100 Covid cases per 100,000 people. Unlike countries such as Spain and France, Germany has resisted using a curfew so far in the pandemic.
“The virus does not respond to half measures, it only understands one language: forcefulness,” she said.
The proposals elicited whistles and jeers from members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has flirted with Covid denialism.
Second and third readings of the bill are due to take place in the coming week.
The bill sets out a series of benchmarks that would dictate restrictions.
Social gatherings would be limited to one person outside the household if the incidence rate hit 100 cases per 100,000 while schools would remain in-person until 200 cases per 100,000.
The rules would affect some 330 of the country’s 400 districts currently, including large cities like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
German health authorities reported 25,831 new cases and 247 deaths in the last 24 hours Friday. EFE