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Germany's Merkel warns against hasty reopening

June 10, 2021

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the continued drop in Germany's coronavirus case numbers was "extremely pleasing," while warning that new variants and low vaccination rates still pose risks to fully opening.

 Deutschland Berlin Ministerpräsidentenkonferenz Angela Merkel (CDU) und Michael Müller (SPD)
Image: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Germany's coronavirus restrictions in place since Easter had delivered an "extremely pleasing" drop in cases, but urged continued caution as the virus "hasn't vanished." 

Many parts of Germany are partially reopening, as case numbers drop below critical thresholds to allow outdoor dining and small gatherings. However, larger events are still not allowed. 

Merkel said risks remains posed by the Delta variant,  first observed in India and widespread in Britain. She added that increasing vaccinations is critical to fending off its spread. 

"We are basically in a race to vaccinate," she said referring to the Delta variant. Merkel spoke after after a videoconference Thursday with the premiers of Germany's 16 federal states. 

"The thing that worries us is the so-called Delta variant, which is becoming very prevalent again in the Great Britain," she said.

Merkel urged Germany to watch coronavirus trends as Europe "very closely" as the Summer holiday season begins.

Berlin opens up as COVID cases drop

"We can say that the efforts of the past few months have paid off," she said. "But we shouldn't be careless," she added. 

Caution, disagreement over resuming big events

Ahead of Thursday's talks, Berlin's Social Democrat (SPD) Mayor Michael Müller, said the meeting should include discussions about nationwide guidelines on resuming big public events, such as Oktoberfest or Stuttgart's Cannstatter Wasen. 

However, Merkel's conservatives and the Greens in Baden-Württemberg excluded the discussion from the agenda, again exposing a rift between political parties on nationwide coronavirus policy. 

Ahead of Thursday's consultations, German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that big events were "unfortunately exactly those where this virus spreads fastest." 

However, Thuringia state premier, Bodo Ramelow of the Left party, told Düsseldorf's Rheinische Post newspaper Thursday that  "We can take the risk of the complete opening in the autumn."

Those who did not allow themselves to be vaccinated "must carry the risk and responsibility themselves," Ramalow said. 

ipj/wmr (dpa, KNA)