Germany — Merkel Moves Measures, “Corona Cabinet” Cancelled

  • Thuringia's Minister-President, Bodo Ramelow, had floated plans to abandon restrictions after June 5th.
  • Chancellor Merkel's "corona cabinet" was canceled Monday because “individual issues were simply not yet ready for consultation.”
  • The draft decision, which was discussed during the meeting of the state representatives, leaked to the German press.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert has announced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to extend social distancing measures until July 5th. Answering the questions of journalists in Berlin, Seibert stated that social distance, contact restrictions, and hygiene rules will continue until this date, which will be binding for everyone.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic spread to Germany on 27 January 2020, when the first case was confirmed and contained near Munich, Bavaria. As of 24 May 2020, Germany has reported 180,328 cases, 8,367 deaths and approximately 160,300 recoveries.

Yesterday, Helge Braun, the head of the Chancellor’s Office, met with the representatives of the eastern state of Thuringia. Minister-President Bodo Ramelow had floated plans to abandon restrictions after June 5th, and rely on local authorities and individuals to maintain hygiene requirements

Seibert said that the aim was to reach an agreement on a common point on the basic rules, however, there may be regional differences in relaxation. He added that the government doesn’t want to jeopardize the advances the country has made together.

Ramelow Controversy

Seibert also responded to journalists’ questions about the so-called “coronavirus cabinet,” of ministers concerned, not meeting Monday. He said that “individual issues were simply not yet ready for consultation,” which is why the meeting was cancelled. Seibert insisted that this has nothing to do with Ramelow’s statements.

Thuringia’s Leftist Minister-President, Ramelow, wants to completely remove the epidemic measures. Ramelow’s plan, to remove all coronavirus measures from the next day, has been controversial in German politics. According to a compromise between the federal government and the states, coronavirus restrictions were expected to end on June 5th in the country.

“I didn’t say that people should start hugging each other or take off their masks to kiss each other,” Ramelow told public broadcaster MDR.

Bodo Ramelow is a German politician, who since the 4 March 2020 is serving as Minister President of Thuringia, an office he previously held from 2014 to February 2020. A member of The Left, he previously chaired the party’s group in the Landtag of Thuringia.

Limits on Large Groups Easing

On the other hand, the draft decision, which was discussed during the meeting of the state representatives, leaked to the German press. According to the draft, while the federal government advised the states to continue the basic measures, it is stated that from June 6, loosening may continue gradually, depending on the imperative of masks and social distance.

“Instead of imposing general rules and then allowing a lot of exceptions, essentially everything will be opened up and only a few exceptions will be made for what is not possible,” regional health minister Petra Koepping said. The federal government plans to allow up to 20 people outdoors and 10 people indoors.

Meanwhile, the federal government recommends “where possible, private meetings should be held outdoors, as there is a considerably lower risk of infection.” Current German rules state that family members living in the same house, as well as those living in two separate households, are allowed to come together, but at least 1.5 meters distance is required between people.

Germany Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that despite such moves, “you must not create the impression that the pandemic is over.” Spahn made his remarks to the Bild tabloid. In the draft decision, prepared by the Chancellory, it is emphasized that the virus continues to spread, and that it can spread faster if the measures are not implemented.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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