The Merkel government has approved the “emergency brake” that will allow the central government to bypass state vetoes and impose uniform lockdowns throughout the country.
If the Parliament green lights the measure (which requires the formal amendment of the law in force), every time the infection rate exceeds 100 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days, a curfew will be automatically triggered in the area concerned, without the need for the approval of individual governors.
This would mean, first of all, a prohibition to leave the house from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for urgent reasons, contacts limited to one guest in addition to family, closure of non-essential stores and all cultural and recreational activities, while food services will be allowed only for takeaway. But the “brake” that Merkel is strongly pushing for is also expected to update the rules on safety in the workplace, starting the obligation for companies to offer their employees a Covid test at least once a week.
The government is pressing for approval “as soon as possible,” and according to the leader of the CDU-CSU, Ralph Brinkhaus, the institutional process “should be completed within this week.”
This is what the Chancellor is hoping for, who on Tuesday appealed once again to the public’s sense of responsibility: “The situation is serious and we must take it seriously. The third wave of the pandemic is taking its toll, yet the current system of rules between the federal and local levels is not sufficient to stop it. We’ve been waiting for a consistent measure for a long time; we could no longer continue to ignore the calls for help from ICU doctors. I finally see the end of the tunnel approaching, but the fight against the virus must be more serious and resolute.”
Despite the centralist shift, however, each state in Germany will continue to have a voice in the chapter of pandemic management. In the city-state of Berlin, on Tuesday, the Senate ruled that the obligation to wear Ffp2 masks will apply only to those over 14 years old from now on, contrary to what was envisaged until Tuesday.
In addition, in the capital, children will be able to continue to play outdoor sports in groups of up to 20 people, while the Berlin municipality—using its powers for autonomous decision-making—is moving towards considering vaccinated people on a par with those with a negative test.
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