Germany: States loosen restrictions despite Chancellery warnings

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The tension between the Chancellery and the states escalates as much as some of them local governments insist on proceeding with the implementation of their plans for relaxation of restrictions, despite the warning of the Chancellor herself, who even threatened to impose uniform measures at the federal level, citing the Constitution and its oath.

First is the state of Saar, with Prime Minister Tobias Hans, who in fact belongs to the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and last week received a personal remark from Angela Merkel. “Now is not the time to talk about such things,” the chancellor said in a televised interview, referring to the state government’s “pilot plan” for a limited opening with a negative coronavirus test. If the situation continued, he had stated, “I will not remain an observer – this is my oath of office and my obligation,” he had said characteristically.

Ignoring the warning, but also the growing number of cases in the area, Saarland today opened the outdoor dining areas for groups of up to five people from two different households by booking and registering their details. If there are more people in the company, they should all have a negative test on the same day. Gyms, theaters and cinemas are still open today with the condition of the test, while team sports in open spaces are allowed again. If all goes well, after April 18 there may be further relaxation and the opening of schools – with the obligation to take two tests a week.

In the state, however, the case rate per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days has risen in recent weeks from 66 to 91.3. At the federal level, the index is currently at 123, according to data released by the Robert Koch Institute, but clarified that due to the Easter days, the data may not be accurate.

“After a year of pandemic, we have to think of more than just closures and restrictions,” said Hans, defending his case, adding that it was not an “experiment” as the case rate was still below the 100 mark. He even assured that if an increase is found, he will apply the “emergency brake”, as agreed and the area will return to lockdown.

Similar plans for easing restrictions are being prepared by governments in both Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, with the opening of zoos and botanical gardens, museums, retail and wholesale shops, hairdressers and beauty salons, and mandatory tests.

The federal government, however, does not take kindly to the relaxation plans, while it is said to be preparing for the imposition of a strict lockdown throughout the country. Yesterday, North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister and CDU leader Armin Lassett suggested a “short and severe lockdown” everywhere, even in low-epidemic areas, as a “bridge” until the number of cases dropped and the pace accelerated. in the country. He even demanded that the conference of the Prime Ministers of the states with the Chancellor be convened for this in a hurry – this time with a physical presence. For its part, the Chancellery reacted very cautiously to the proposal, noting that “the federation is always ready for joint consultations, provided that they are well prepared.”

Mr Lassett’s proposal was supported by the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU / CSU) parliamentary group, Ralph Brinkhaus, who emphasized that “until the population is adequately immunized, we must protect the health of the people and reduce the incidence of a clearly timed lockdown “and that” we need a decision soon “. The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Stephen Weil, expressed the opposite view, noting that he “seriously doubts” whether such a measure could be implemented. “Such proposals only contribute to the insecurity of the citizens,” he said. Special mention to the management of the pandemic in the state of Lasset, North Rhine-Westphalia, made the Vice Chancellor and Minister of Finance Olaf Solz, noting that the state has not imposed the “emergency brake”, despite the rise of the case above the 100.

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