Coronavirus: Merkel criticises "brash" reopenings as infection rate rises again

Coronavirus: Merkel criticises "brash" reopenings as infection rate rises again

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has slammed the actions taken by individual federal states to loosen coronavirus restrictions. Calling for perseverance, she cautioned, “We are not living in the final phase of the pandemic.” Her comments came on the heels of reports that the coronavirus infection rate in Germany has risen again. 

Merkel urges caution to avoid second wave of infections

Assessing the implementation of the plan for the loosening of coronavirus restrictions in Germany, which was agreed upon between the federal and state governments last week, Merkel criticised the states’ approach as “in part very brash, if not to say, too brash.” 

Although a general course of action was agreed upon, each state has the power to regulate the easing differently. Many states have therefore begun to give special dispensation to local businesses. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, larger furniture stores like Ikea were allowed to reopen on Wednesday - and some parties are calling for restrictions in the gastronomy sector to also be lifted. 

On Monday this week, Merkel raised a few eyebrows when she lambasted Germany’s keenness to tear down lockdown restrictions as unhelpful Öffnungsdiskussionsorgien (loosely translated as reopening discussion orgies). She urged caution and discipline to avoid unleashing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

During her first government statement on the coronavirus crisis in the Bundestag on Thursday, her message was much the same. “I see it as my duty to warn,” Merkel said. Everyone must resign themselves to long-term restrictions: “We are not living in the final phases of the pandemic, but still at the beginning. We will have to live with this virus for a long time to come… Let’s not gamble away what we have achieved and risk a setback.” 

Robert Koch Institute records small rise in infection rate

Merkel’s comments came as the Robert Koch Institute announced that there had been a setback in the infection rate in Germany. In their report on Monday evening, the RKI calculated that the reproduction number (R) had risen to 0,9, where it has stayed ever since. On April 16, a few days before coronavirus restrictions were partially lifted, the infection rate was 0,7. 

The reproduction number quantifies how many people are infected by one person with coronavirus, on average. The overall goal is to keep this number below one; Merkel previously stated that this was a prerequisite for restrictions being lifted, otherwise there would be an exponential increase in the number of infections and the healthcare system would quickly become overloaded. 

The figures led prominent experts to warn about a possible second wave of infections - lending force to Merkel’s argument that it is far too early to be thinking about any further easing of coronavirus restrictions. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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