Merkel plans first face-to-face Covid-19 meeting with state leaders since March

Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted the government and state leaders meeting on Wednesday is held face-to-face instead of online – a move that suggests the Covid-19 situation in Germany is getting more serious.

Merkel plans first face-to-face Covid-19 meeting with state leaders since March
Angela Merkel on Friday after a meeting with mayors from across Germany. Photo: DPA

As the country grapples with rising rates, Chancellor Merkel wants to meet the leaders of the 16 states in person rather than online for the first time in seven months.

They are set to discuss the coronavirus situation in Germany and how to go forward.

The conference will be held in a “physical presence format” at Merkel's request, Bild newspaper reported. A government spokesman confirmed the on-site meeting and announced that Merkel would then hold a press conference with the chairman of the state premiers' conference, Michael Müller, mayor of Berlin, and his deputy, Bavaria's head of government Markus Söder.

The last full on-site meeting was on March 12th, when the government and states decided to shut down social and economic life in Germany because of the rising coronavirus rates.

Bild reported that in a video conference with the heads of the state chancellery, Helge Braun justified the need for an in-person meeting due to the dramatic infection situation in Germany. The country has seen more than 4,000 new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in recent days, resulting in several hotspots.

According to the participants of that event, Braun was quoted as saying that an open debate should be held which could have “historical dimensions”.

The meeting on Wednesday will also deal with the controversial ban on accommodation for travellers from coronavirus risk areas within Germany.

READ ALSO: Growing calls for clearer rules across Germany amid coronavirus crisis

In most federal states, the rule applies that people from regions with more than 50 new infections per 100,000 within a week can only be accommodated in a hotel if they can show a current coronavirus test with a negative result. This is often criticised as disproportionate, and raises questions about the use of tests and capacity.

Due to federal state differences, it's also been slammed as creating confusion for residents.


Physical presence format – (das) physisches Präsenzformat

Rule – (die Regel)

On-site meeting -(das) Vor-Ort-Treffen

Accommodation ban – (das) Beherbergungsverbot

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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