The German federal government is planning to pass new legislation to allow it to impose uniform coronavirus restrictions across the country, taking control from the states, a government spokesperson said on Friday.
The country's 16 state premiers have agreed to new legislation to allow the change, and better fight the surge in COVID-19 cases.
"The federal government plans to introduce draft legislation next week, in close coordination with the states, that includes a binding and comprehensive emergency brake for districts with an incidence of 100 cases and up," a government source told Reuters.
The compulsory measures would be imposed on states where the infection rate was above 100, but powers would be returned once the infection rate fell below that threshold again, Reuters reported.
A planned meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers on Monday was also canceled as ministers prepared the legislation.
Deputy government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said that an amendment to the Infection Protection Act was expected by Tuesday.
Why does the German federal government want to take control?
"Germany is in the middle of a third wave, so the federal government and the states have agreed to add to the national legislation," Demmer told reporters.
The move by Merkel's government follows weeks of frustration over varied handling of the rise in cases by Germany's 16 state leaders.
The government and state heads had agreed on an "emergency brake" to be imposed when the rate of infection goes above 100 per 100,000 in the past seven days. But the leaders of some states have followed a loose interpretation of the agreed response.
Merkel has expressed her own criticisms of the lack of uniform restrictions and brought up the possibility of drawing up legislation to hand the federal government powers to overrule the states.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Merkel and other leading lawmakers such as Health Minister Jens Spahn have called for a short, hard lockdown in Germany as daily cases remain high, threatening to overwhelm the healthcare system.
Spahn on Friday suggested implementing curfews, as is already the case in the capital Berlin. He also warned that recorded cases were likely underestimates of the real numbers since fewer tests were carried out over the long Easter weekend.
President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Lothar Wieler, suggested implementing a two to four-week lockdown to curb the third wave of infections.
A significant ramp-up of vaccinations on Thursday and Friday was a cause for celebration and hopefulness within Germany. A record-breaking number of COVID-19 vaccine doses — almost 720,000 — were administered on Friday alone.
You can read this article as it originally appears at Deutsche Welle here.
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