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German government agrees on law that allows tougher restrictions to be enacted

German government agrees on law that allows tougher restrictions to be enacted

German government agrees on law that allows tougher restrictions to be enacted

The German government has agreed to changes to a national infections control law. The adjusted law still has to be approved by parliament, but would allow the government to impose curfews and close businesses and schools.

German government agrees to controversial changes

The German government agreed to changes to the German Infection Protection Act on Tuesday, which would give Berlin the power to enforce tougher restrictions in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus in Germany. The adjusted law still needs to be approved by parliament and the government has since called the changes to be passed quickly.

Germany’s coronavirus response has been hindered by disputes between the federal states, with some choosing to not enforce tougher restrictions despite rising infection rates. According to Angela Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, the new law aims to apply “uniform” national coronavirus rules.

The adjusted law will allow the government to enforce their “emergency brake.” According to this, stricter measures will be put in place in areas with a seven-day incidence rate (number of infections per 100.000 residents over the past seven days) of more than 100 over three consecutive days. “The nationwide emergency break is long overdue,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.

What restrictions will be put in place?

In areas that go over the seven-day incidence limit, the plan is to enforce a night-time curfew, whereby residents are only allowed to leave their home for work, medical emergencies, and to take care of their pets. Private and public gatherings will only be allowed if they are only attended by members of the same household and one other person.

Shops, businesses, and recreational facilities will be forced to close, although restaurants will still be open for pick-up and delivery services. Supermarkets, health stores, pharmacies, opticians, petrol stations and other “essential businesses” will be allowed to stay open. Tourist accommodation would also be forced to close.

The restrictions would also affect schools, with lessons only being allowed to take place if students pass two coronavirus tests every week. However, should the seven-day incidence rate rise to 200 over three days, lessons will have to take place outside the classroom.

Criticisms of the law

The changes have garnered some criticism, with the Minister of the Interior of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, telling reporters that it would be a “big mistake to take power from the regions in the middle of a crisis." The German Associations of Towns and Municipalities have also criticised the adjusted law, calling the proposed curfews “constitutionally problematic.”

William Nehra

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William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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