Coronavirus pandemic not over, warns Merkel as Germany’s states devise own plans

Coronavirus pandemic not over, warns Merkel as Germany's states devise own plans
Angela Merkel on May 27th. Photo: DPA
Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany has a better grip on the pandemic but warned that people must remain careful and vigilant.

Merkel spoke out after a meeting with the heads of government of eastern German states in Berlin on Wednesday, May 27th.

Merkel said that “we are still at the start of the pandemic” while there is no vaccine or treatment for coronavirus, However, she added: “We have gained better control.”

The Chancellor thanked people in Germany for sticking to rules but said it was still necessary to be “very careful and very observant”, adding that coronavirus infections can spread quickly if not kept in check.

EXPLAINED: What to know about Germany's new social distancing measures

It comes after the German government announced on Tuesday May 26th that social distancing measures, including the 1.5 metre required distance from others, would be extended to June 29th.

States go their own way

Germany's regions, which have already been putting together their own plans out of lockdown, have been tasked with monitoring the virus in their part of the country.

Under Germany's federalist system, the 16 regional states have far more leeway to set policy than in more centrally governed countries such as Britain and France.

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However, Merkel acknowledged the team work between the government and states.

“The fact that the federal and state governments worked together during the crisis has contributed significantly to the success in overcoming the crisis so far,” said Merkel.

“I can tell you that the federal government is of course following the situation very closely,” Merkel added.

Merkel steered the country well in the crisis to date, but now it was up to the states to carry on the job, said Berlin's Mayor Michael Müller who was also at the press conference.

'Ambiguous'

Some states – including Thuringia and Saxony – have announced they will soon get rid of coronavirus lockdown measures.

When asked by a reporter whether the Thuringia decision was a topic at the regional conference Merkel said she was “very much in agreement” that everyone was working within their own areas of responsibility.

However, she said Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow's messages were “somewhat ambiguous”. She added that the minimum 1.5 metre distance requirement was, to her mind, “an obligation” rather than guidance because it protects other people.

Ramelow had said it made “no sense” to maintain crisis measures put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus when half of the districts in his state hadn't reported any new infections in the last three weeks.

Merkel added that states would be supported and there was a better overview of the intensive care bed situation throughout Germany.

Merkel announced that she would “continue to look at the development of the coronavirus pandemic alongside the states.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in Germany – which restrictions are changing from May 25th?

Merkel's next meeting with the state premiers is scheduled for June 17th.


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