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Majority of Germans ‘against relaxation of coronavirus lockdown measures’

Most Germans are against the loosening of social distancing restrictions in place to stem the spread of Covid-19, a new survey has found.

Majority of Germans 'against relaxation of coronavirus lockdown measures'
Police patrolling a park in Leipzig on Sunday. Photo: DPA

The current rules – which include keeping a distance of 1.5 metres from others and ban on gatherings of more than two people in public, as well as widespread closures of schools and non-essential businesses – are officially in place up to and including April 19th.

But a new poll conducted on behalf of DPA by the opinion research institute YouGov,  has found that many Germans are wary of lifting the restrictions too soon.

According to the survey, 44 percent of respondents said they wanted to see an extension of lockdown measures beyond April 19th, while 12 percent said they were even in favour of tightening the rules.

Only 32 percent are in favour of a relaxation of the lockdown measures, and eight percent said they wanted to see the restrictions abolished. Five percent did not give their opinion.

Meanwhile, 78 per cent of respondents said they were complying with the current restrictions in full. A total of 18 per cent said they were only partially following the rules, and 2 per cent said they were not sticking to rules at all.

READ ALSO: Germany bans gatherings of more than two to control coronavirus spread

On Wednesday April 15th, Chancellor Angela Merkel of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) is set to discuss with Germany's state premiers how to proceed after the Easter holidays end next Sunday.

As of Monday morning April 13th, there were more than 127,800 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. 

Of the total, around 60,260 people have reported themselves to have fully recovered from the virus while more than 3,000 people have died.

Experts say the curve is beginning to flatten in Germany as the number of new infections slows down.

READ ALSO: Germany could see 'gradual return to normality' after Easter holidays

The debate over when and how to lift the measures is growing in Germany, particularly after neighbouring Austria announced plans last week to relax its curbs.

Meanwhile, CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Monday that states and the federal government must take a coordinated approach in order to have a smooth gradual exit from the coronavirus restrictions.

“It is important that we have regulations that are as uniform as possible,” she said.

North Rhine-Westphalia's state premier Armin Laschet (CDU) said on Sunday said a “timetable' was needed to allow the country to safely plan a route out of the partial lockdown.

Last week an internal government paper showed what Germany's path out of the current shutdown could look like. It included talk of infection contact tracing, compulsory mask wearing and continued social distancing measures.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said: “In the near future, the main task will be to quickly identify and isolate those infected by means of broad testing. And then to track down and isolate their contacts.

“This is the only way we can break chains of infection.”

On Thursday Merkel urged people to be patient. “We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security,” the Chancellor warned at a press conference leading up to Germany’s four-day Easter weekend.

She said restrictions would only be lifted “slowly”, she said, with their effectiveness reviewed on a “two to three week basis”.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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