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Coronavirus rules: 'We cannot rely on hope,' says Merkel

December 7, 2020

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told party colleagues that existing COVID measures will not get Germany through the winter. Some states are going further than others in how they deal with the pandemic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, Bavarian govenor Markus Söder, right, and Berlin's Mayor Michael Müller, left
Image: Markus Schreiber/AP/picture alliance

Germany requires tougher measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told members of her Christian Democrat (CDU) party on Monday.

Merkel said regions with high coronavirus rates needed to tighten social contact restrictions before Christmas, according to sources at a CDU meeting.

The country was in a "very difficult situation" and that it would not be able to "get through the winter" with current measures, sources were reported as saying.

"We will not get anywhere on the principle of hope," Merkel was quoted as having said. She was also reported to have complained of "too much talk about mulled wine stands... and too little talk about nurses and carers."

Germany has seen infection levels remain at a high level for more than a month, despite being hailed as a good example in how it dealt with the pandemic earlier this year.

Read more: Coronavirus  Germany is no longer a role model

Tougher rules in Bavaria

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert had earlier welcomed a move by Bavaria on Sunday to step up its shutdown rules. The state government in Munich has also said it will limit New Year's Eve gatherings.

"These are worrisome days," Seibert said, noting that infection rates were "not consistently going down" but rather rising in some areas. He said Germany was "far from turning the corner."

Read more: German coronavirus aid can't last indefinitely, Angela Merkel warns

"It is obvious and also necessary for individual states to think about which measures they could use to curb new infections," he said, calling Bavaria's planned tightening from Wednesday "good and right."

Bavaria State Premier Markus Söder on Monday urged Germany's federal and state leaders to hold another top-level meeting before Christmas, as coronavirus cases across the country remain high.

Discord among states

However, Thuringia State Premier Bodo Ramelow of the Left party is against new consultations before the holidays.

"We have regulations until January 10, 2021," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Everyone knows what to do."

Merkel and the state leaders agreed last week to extend current restrictions until January 10. Cultural and sporting facilities as well as restaurants and bars have been shut since early November. Schools and shops remain open. Exceptions are in place for gatherings at Christmas and New Year of up to 10 people.

Read more: Expect squabbles over vaccine distribution, warns German health minister

The eastern state of Saxony has announced it will meet on Tuesday to agree stricter rules. The premier of the state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, warned of possible night-time curfews.

The German federal system means that states have leeway to set their own rules, making any coordinated action from the top more complicated.

rc/rt (dpa, Reuters, AFP)