German government agrees on law for curfews and tougher coronavirus measures nationwide

AFP/DPA/The Local
AFP/DPA/The Local - [email protected]
German government agrees on law for curfews and tougher coronavirus measures nationwide
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) talks with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (l, SPD) and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) before the cabinet meeting at the Chancellery. Photo: DPA

The German government agreed Tuesday on controversial changes to a national infections control law, handing Berlin more power to impose tougher measures such as night-time curfews to halt the raging coronavirus pandemic.


The adjusted law, which still needs to be approved by parliament, would allow Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to impose curfews from 9pm to 5am and close schools and businesses in areas with high infection rates.

Areas which have a 7-day incidence of more than 100 infections per 100,000 residents over three days will have several strict measures put in place.

What rules does the government want?

The adjusted law agreed by cabinet on Tuesday would give Berlin the power to enforce this "emergency brake".

The plan states that through a nighttime curfew, residents would only be allowed to leave their home for medical emergencies, work purposes or to take care of animals.

Private gatherings in public or private space are to be allowed only if they are attended by no more than the members of a household and one other person.


Among other things, in the event of a higher incidence, most stores and recreational and cultural facilities, as well as restaurants (with the exception of pick-up and delivery), will also have to close.

READ ALSO: German lockdown measures could last ‘until the end of May or June’

The food trade, beverage markets, health food stores, baby markets, pharmacies, medical supply stores, drugstores, opticians, and gas stations are to be excluded.

Tourist accommodation would also be banned.

In schools, face-to-face classes would be allowed only when pupils have two negative coronavirus test results per week. However, if the 7-day incidence were to rise to 200 over three days, then in-person classes would no longer be allowed.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that the aim of the new law was to apply "uniform national" rules.

READ ALSO: Merkel to take control as states dither over Covid rules

Bitter disputes

Regular meetings between Berlin and the regions to set Germany's coronavirus policies have been marked by bitter disputes and spotty compliance in recent weeks.

Most notably, some states have not followed through on an agreement to row back on the easing of measures in areas where the seven-day incidence rate exceeds 100 new infections per 100,000 people.

Only one out of Germany's 16 states was reporting an incidence rate below 100 on Tuesday.

Cabinet also approved a new rule obliging employers to provide a weekly test to people who were unable to work from home.

READ ALSO: Germany pushes for firms to pay for mandatory Covid testing for employees

Yet the changes have been met with scepticism from regional leaders. Lower Saxony's interior minister Boris Pistorius told Die Welt newspaper onMonday that it was a "big mistake to take power from the regions in the middle of a crisis".

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities also criticised the plans, telling the Rheinische Post that the proposed curfews were "constitutionally problematic".


The adjusted law still has to pass through parliament, where Merkel's right-left coalition has a majority.

Rising infection rates

The controversial move away from Germany's strict federal structures comes as Europe's biggest economy struggles to contain rising infection rates.

"The numbers are too high at the moment. The pressure on our intensive care stations is growing and we have to say that this third wave is perhaps the hardest one to break," said Merkel.

READ ALSO: Merkel vs Germany’s states: Who really holds the power to fight the pandemic?

Case numbers continue to rise despite cultural venues, restaurants and leisure facilities having been closed for months, with the total number of infections passing the three million mark on Monday.

Health authorities have warned that hospitals could become overwhelmed if tougher national measures are not imposed soon.

"We urgently appeal to the politicians to pass the changes to the infection control law by the end of the week," Gernot Marx, president of the German Association for Intensive Medicine (DIVI), told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.


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Anonymous 2021/04/14 08:12
Deb, they haven't specified which test they will do. The free weekly one is the nasal swab that goes all the way back and is very uncomfortable. Verbrannt - your comment would be funny if children had bristles designed to scrape in tissue into them and they shoved them all the way back.
Anonymous 2021/04/13 21:51
Actual scientists studying COVID: "There is no outdoor transmission. Curfews are draconian and unnecessary, do not help, and likely even make things worse by encouraging people to covertly meet indoors where they will then spread the virus." The government: "I see! So you're saying it's a problem that we can't currently force a state to impose a curfew?" Scientists: "No. Literally the opposite of that." Government: "Right! Curfews it is. After all, we must trust the science." How do they expect anyone to take the rules seriously if they insist on passing nonsense rules?
  • Anonymous 2021/04/14 10:42
    Not sure which 'Actual scientists' you're referring to. All the real ones support social distancing and social gathering minimization measures, especially in peak waves. They are very vocal about it on very official sources. They also support coordinated approaches within a country, otherwise what is the point. Night curfews also restrict people heading for indoor night gatherings. And they limit the risk of after hour alcohol and parties etc... dropping peoples inhibitions. In general they communicate the over arching message: be vigilant, we are in a risk phase.
Anonymous 2021/04/13 21:15
Oh please, it's hardly a not the more traumatic nasopharyngeal swab, they just swab the lower segment, it is NOT a big deal and the kids can do it themselves. Also worth noting the new variants are more infectious for younger people.
  • Anonymous 2021/04/13 21:15
    Was in reply to Lyssa, didn't nest.
Anonymous 2021/04/13 14:37
Despite the unequivocal science that says children are not vectors, you're going to force poor little children to get nasal swabs twice a week in order to get the educations they so desperately need and deserve. You should be ashamed of yourselves Merkel and the other "leaders". Who pays for these tests? Parents who don't want their kids to be tortured twice a week need to bring their kids home and then the kids are not getting proper educations, parents can't do their jobs, and kids get really stressed missing their friends. Awful, awful people these "leaders".
  • Anonymous 2021/04/13 21:37
    Lyssa: Nasal swabs are torture! Won't somebody think of the children?! Children: I think I'll bury my entire finger in my nose and eat whatever I can pull out.
  • Anonymous 2021/04/13 21:04
    Totally agree. Germany continues to have no real plan and is leaderless. None of these politicians can do a simple risk assessment and recognize that not making a decision is making a decision by default. The restrictions on the role out of the Asta Zeneca is just one of many stupid decision not thought through that is resulting in thousands of more deaths than the potential blood clots. Bloody stupidity
  • thelocal_462458 2021/04/13 21:00
    The British variant of COVID is much more infectious for young people. They *can* be vectors now.

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