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World

Merkel seizes reins as German states dither over virus

  • Currently coronavirus measures are decided on in consultation with Berlin and -- in theory -- implemented by the federal states.
Published April 13, 2021

BERLIN: The German government is expected to agree Tuesday on controversial changes to a national infections control law which would hand Berlin more centralised power to impose sweeping measures to curb the raging coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed changes, criticised by some states, could give Chancellor Angela Merkel's government the power to impose night-time curfews and close schools in areas with high infection rates.

The move aims to end a political tug-of-war between the federal government and powerful regions over coronavirus measures, as Germany remains gripped by a dangerous third wave of the pandemic which is putting increased strain on the country's health system.

Currently coronavirus measures are decided on in consultation with Berlin and -- in theory -- implemented by the federal states.

Yet in many cases, regional leaders have failed to put in place shutdown measures to which they agreed with Merkel, with some even allowing shops and cinemas to reopen.

At a press conference on Monday, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the new law aimed to create "uniform national" rules.

"The aim is to bring the country as quickly as possible to a situation with much lower infection rates at which we can responsibly ease restrictions with testing," he said.

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