Merkel defends plans to impose curfew as COVID-19 cases rise

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GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday defended her plans to introduce a strict night-time curfew to head off surging new Coronavirus cases amid growing opposition to the proposed new law.

Speaking in parliament, Merkel said the plan to impose the curfew in regions where the number of new COVID- 19 cases rose above 100 per 100,000 inhabitants for three straight days over a seven-day period was not new and had already been applied in several of the nation’s 16 states.

Merkel’s so-called emergency brake plan, which includes a night-time curfew from 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) until 5 a.m, has come under fire from both legal experts and opposition party members.

“The situation is serious, and very serious,’’ Merkel told the Bundestag amid a hefty parliamentary debate on the new law, which seeks to create a nationwide approach to stemming the spread of the virus.

However, opposition parties roundly criticised Berlin’s proposed law, in particular the night-time curfew, demanding changes to the legislation and warning of the economic impact of the plan.

Speaking during the debate, the pro-business Free Democrats’ leader Christian Lindner threatened to mount a constitutional challenge to the proposal, which also imposes new limits on sporting activities and private gatherings as well as closing all non-essential shops above the 100 per 100,000 reading.

At the same time, Alice Weidel, a parliamentary leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany, lashed out at Merkel, you distrust the citizens, so you want to bully them during the day and lock them up at night.

But the chancellor told parliamentarians the planned law would help to lead the country out of the “terrible phase’’ of ever-increasing infection numbers and prevent a growing number of seriously ill and intensive care patients across the nation.

Germany’s public disease control authority, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday the number of new COVID-19 infections stood at 25,831 up from 25,464 a week ago with 247 new deaths.

New infections reported within seven days per 100,000 people was 160.1 on Thursday, according to the RKI compared with 95.6 four weeks ago.

Hitting back at the criticism, Merkel told parliament measures in some other nations such as Portugal and Britain were even more restrictive than what Berlin planned for Germany.

“The point is to reduce evening visitor movements from one place to another as well as the use of local public transport,’’ Merkel told lawmakers.

She conceded that the night-time curfew was “not a panacea” but added it can have an effect when combined with other measures such as tough contact restrictions.

The advantages of this measure outweigh the disadvantages, she said.

The bill was scheduled to be pass the lower house of the German parliamentary, the Bundestag on Wednesday before being sent to the upper house the Bundesrat, which represents the nation’s states.

NAN

– Apr. 16, 2021 @ 13:42 GMT

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