German leaders to discuss tougher Covid restrictions

Chancellor in waiting Olaf Scholz and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Bundestag
Chancellor in waiting Olaf Scholz and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Bundestag on November 18th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor in waiting Olaf Scholz will hold urgent talks on Tuesday with leaders of Germany's 16 states on toughening restrictions to halt a surge of coronavirus infections, sources told AFP.

Europe’s biggest economy has over the last weeks began requiring people to prove they are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or recently tested negative before they can travel on public transport or enter workplaces.

Several of the worst-hit areas have gone further, cancelling large events like Christmas markets and barring the unvaccinated from bars, gyms and leisure facilities.

But with infections shooting to new records day after day, calls have grown louder for further restrictions. 

On Monday, Germany’s weekly infection rate soared to another all-time high of 452.4 per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

As Germany’s states have significant powers to decide their own restrictions, the country has often found itself with a patchwork of rules.

READ ALSO: The latest Covid rules in each German state

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What’s on the agenda at the talks?

At their talks on Tuesday, the leaders are to discuss a planned verdict from the Federal Constitutional Court on the so-called emergency brake.

The mechanism allows far-reaching measures like curfews or school closures to be undertaken when infection rates reach certain levels.

While the emergency brake has since been replaced by other regulations, the leading politicians are expecting the court to provide its view on measures such as contact restrictions and curfews.

Such measures could yet be deployed in the ongoing battle against the pandemic.

Other restrictions to be discussed will be the 2G-plus rule (meaning people have to be vaccinated or recovered and also present a negative Covid test) for events both inside and outside, a general closure of clubs, as well as capacity limits for Bundesliga football matches.

The discussions come as Germany’s weekly infection rate soared to another new high of 452.4 per 100,000 people over the last seven days on Monday. 

There are worries over the new Omicron variant of Covid which has prompted travel restrictions.

READ ALSO: Germany must be prepared for Omicron variant, warns top virologist

The video call between German leaders is scheduled for 1pm. However, a planned conference of the state premiers is still set to take place on December 9th, according to sources. 


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