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Germany: First Ministers Argue About ‘Bridge Lockdown’

Armin Laschet, the First Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and chairman of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU, wants a tighter lockdown and an immediate Corona conference, all of a sudden. Some of his colleagues disagree.

Berlin, April 6th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — During the Easter holidays, the number of new Coronavirus infections dropped down substantially. This morning, it stood at 6,885. But the actual number might be a lot higher. During holidays or on Sundays, less people with symptoms go to see doctors. Besides, not all local health authorities reported their cases. It remains to be seen if and by what margin the numbers will rise, now that Easter is over.

Proposal Rejected

On Monday, Armin Laschet stated a tight, nationwide lockdown was needed, one that could include nightly curfews. He said the number of contacts people had needed to be decreased further. This “bridge lockdown” needed to be in place “until more people are vaccinated”. Laschet said, another Corona conference needed to be held this week. He wants all First Ministers to be present in Berlin. Usually, Angela Merkel and her colleagues from the states discuss things in video conferences.

Just a few days ago, Laschet had been criticized by Mrs. Merkel for not implementing the “emergency brake” he himself had agreed to, when the Incidence in his own state, North Rhine-Westphalia, exceeded 100. Now he suddenly demands a stricter lockdown. Laschet, who wants to be the CDU’s candidate for Chancellor, may now have disqualified himself from the race, by changing his mind every few days. His latest proposal was rejected by several of his colleagues.

‘Characterized by Hecticness’

In an interview with the ARD radio and television network, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller said it was unclear what kind of lockdown Laschet was talking about and which measures he wanted to include. Müller, who is also chairman of the German Conference of First Ministers, rejected the call for a Corona conference this week. The official date for the next discussions about the Corona situation and its implications is April 12th, which is Monday of next week.

All relevant Corona numbers for Germany, and daily Corona updates, can be found in our Corona chronology.

The First Minister of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, told the ‘Spiegel’ weekly, a Corona conference would only make sense if agreements on main questions were already on the table. “The latest contributions to the discussion are characterized by hecticness”, Ramelow stated. Other federal states share this view. Last time, the Corona conference had lasted until 3:00 a.m. in the morning. One decision that had been taken by the Chancellor and sixteen tired out First Ministers was retracted later. They had agreed to having everything closed down on Holy Thursday, including supermarkets, a step that was not really feasible for a number of reasons.

Minister Jens Spahn and Senator Dilek Kalayci visited a vaccination center on Easter Monday. Photo: Pool picture by dpa

Liberties for Vaccinated Persons

On Monday, Health Minister Jens Spahn and Berlin’s Health Senator Dilek Kalayci visited a Corona vaccination center in Berlin. Before the visit, Spahn had announced liberties for persons who are vaccinated against Corona. Soon, they might not need Corona tests or quarantines anymore. A few weeks ago, Spahn had argued against more rights for vaccinated individuals.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of general practitioners are supposed to commence vaccinating their patients against Corona this week. A total of 35,000 doctor’s offices will receive 940,000 vaccine doses per week. Later on, the amount will increase.

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