Majority of Germans ‘in favour of relaxing lockdown measures’

Majority of Germans 'in favour of relaxing lockdown measures'
A garden centre on Monday in Munich after reopening on March 1st. Photo: DPA
Public life has been shutdown in Germany for months due to the coronavirus second wave. Now a new study shows the majority of people want to see the measures relaxed.

According to the survey by YouGov on behalf of DPA, only a third of people in Germany are in favour of maintaining (26 percent) or tightening (9 percent) the current restrictions.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of people think the shutdown should be relaxed in Germany. And 17 percent are even in favour of a complete return to normality. A small number of people – five percent – did not give an answer.

It’s the first time since the harder lockdown was introduced in mid-December that You-Gov polls show a majority of residents are in favour of easing the restrictions.

It comes as hairdressers in Germany reopened after about two and a half months of closure, with strict hygiene measures. Germany began closing parts of public life at the start of November 2020.

READ ALSO: Hairdressers reopen in Germany after months of shutdown

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The current measures – which include the closure (apart from takeaway food and deliveries) of restaurants, bars, cafes, leisure facilities and cultural centres as well as contact restrictions – remain in place until at least March 7th.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders will hold crunch talks on Wednesday to decide the next steps.

The representative survey by YouGov involved around 2,030 people being interviewed online between February 24th and 26th.

What do politicians say about reopening?

The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) say more sectors could reopen safely.

“It’s pleasing that hairdressers are opening again. However, this is not logical because there are comparable hygiene concepts in other sectors,” said Marco Buschmann, of the FDP parliamentary group.

He pointed out that some federal states were already deviating from Chancellor Merkel’s line by beginning to open other facilities such as garden centres.

“We therefore urgently need a nationwide step-by-step plan that provides guidance and creates perspective,” he said.

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Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democrats, also said a change in strategy was needed.

“I insist that we formulate an opening perspective in concrete terms on Wednesday,” the SPD candidate for German chancellor told Bild.

Rapid tests must be used “actively for an opening strategy”, he said. Testing is “part of the way out of the lockdown”.

With testing, Scholz said the 7-day incidence aims of 35 and 50 infections per 100,000 should no longer be seen as the sole yardstick for relaxations in the future.

Germany was supposed to introduce free rapid testing for all on March 1st, but this rollout has been delayed.

‘Germany needs to vaccinate faster’

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities called for people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a faster rate.

Chief Executive Gerd Landsberg said it was unacceptable that “hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses” were being stored in refrigerators while at the same time millions of people were waiting to be vaccinated.

The association supports calls to lift the strict vaccination priority order. As supplies of vaccines have built up, there is no longer a need to set aside so many doses for the second vaccination. Instead, as many people as possible should receive the first vaccination, Landsberg said.

Green parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt accused the federal government of a “historic failure” in the fight against coronavirus.

“After a year of the pandemic, it has little more to show than piecemeal work or nervous to-ing and fro-ing,” she said.

Vaccinations and rapid tests, for example, must finally be put into turbo gear.

READ ALSO: 6 Covid-19 vaccine challenges Germany is facing right now

“I can’t see that the federal government is sufficiently prepared for the increasing delivery volumes of (vaccines) in the next few weeks,” she said.

“A joint effort by the federal and state governments is now needed to ensure that all vaccines are administered to people within the shortest possible time.”

Vaccination centres would have to work at full capacity, GPs should be able to vaccinate across the board, and those eligible for vaccination need to be able to find out easily where, when and how to get an appointment, Göring-Eckardt demanded.

The German Association of Cities appealed to states to simplify procedures for getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. Chief Executive Helmut Dedy told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Monday that it must also be possible to vaccinate people in different priority groups at short notice.

In some federal states, the strict requirements for getting the AstraZeneca vaccine have already been made more flexible – others must follow quickly, said Dedy.


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