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New blocking rules could apply until June

A police car drives on patrol through the main shopping street, which is empty after 10 p.m. during a night curfew during the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic on April 24, 2021 in Cologne.

Andreas Rentz | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany has put in place strict lockdown rules to contain a third wave of infections and a series of new measures that are expected to last through June.

There were protests in several German cities after the restrictions on coronavirus hotspots were introduced this weekend.

A curfew, restrictions on customers in stores, closings of leisure centers and restrictions on household contacts are part of the measures.

Germany has tried to suppress a third wave, largely due to the spread of a more infectious strain of virus that first emerged in the UK last fall.

With the introduction of a “nationwide emergency brake”, cities or districts that exceed a 7-day incidence rate of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants on three consecutive days must now implement the lockdowns.

Schools are supposed to close if the incidence rate is above 165 new cases per 100,000 population for three consecutive days.

Data from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s health department, shows that all but one of the 16 federal states are above the threshold for applying the emergency brake and that seven federal states have an incidence rate of over 165. The nationwide seven-day average of cases per 100,000 people stood at 169.3 on Monday.

The measures laid down in the Infection Protection Act effectively expand the federal government’s powers to combat the pandemic. The German federal states were largely able to set their own rules, which led to nationwide deviations. Some states have been reluctant to take stricter measures despite an increase in infections.

Still, the measures – and especially the curfew, which runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and allows people to only leave their homes when they need to go to or from work, seek medical help, or walk a dog – have some Anger was raised in members of the public and small demonstrations took place in several cities, notably Frankfurt and Hanover, over the weekend.

“Do what is necessary”

Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the new rules and called for compliance.

“If we can now manage to reduce infections significantly and quickly, gradual relaxation will be possible in the foreseeable future,” she said in her weekly video podcast.

“Now let’s do what is necessary again and show consideration and responsibility together.”

“What we hear from doctors and nurses are real calls for help,” she said. “We – the state, society, the citizens – must all help,” she added.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he did not believe that the measures would be relaxed before the end of May, while Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Bundestag: “The situation is serious, very serious.” “

While vaccinations and tests offer a way out of the pandemic, only “reducing the number of contacts and thus the transmission of the infection” can contain the third wave, said Spahn.

The new measures could further undermine the popularity of Merkel’s ruling Conservative Alliance, the Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union.

The Greens have now put a second voter poll in front of the CDU-CSU bloc. The Kantar poll for Bild am Sonntag showed support for the Greens of 28%, 1 percentage point above support for the CDU-CSU. If the positive dynamic of the Greens continues and is confirmed in the federal elections in September, the Greens could be the strongest influence in a likely coalition government with the conservative bloc.

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