German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a “short national lockdown” in response to rising Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.
She is attempting to use the powers of her federal government to enforce this lockdown despite regional leaders refusing to reimpose restrictions within their states.
Deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer announced on Wednesday, April 7, that the chancellor was supporting calls from multiple federal leaders who have been campaigning for a short, intense lockdown to help the country’s coronavirus caseload as well as its mass vaccination program.
“Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right,” said Demmer.
“Also, a common nationwide approach would be important here.”
Demmer also claimed to reporters that Germany was seeing a growing number of patients admitted into intensive care units.
“But the number of occupied intensive care beds speaks a very clear language,” said Demmer.
“It is increasing very much, very strongly and very much too fast. Intensive care physicians are worried.”
The government spokeswoman added that the number of patients in intensive care units has increased by five percent in the past 24 hours.
“We need a stable incidence below 100,” she said, referring to the number of cases over seven days per 100,000 residents.
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s leading federal agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention, the national figure is currently at 110.1 per 100,000 residents.
Merkel’s acceptance of another national lockdown comes just two weeks after she backtracked and was forced to apologize for suggesting a five-day-long lockdown from April 1 to 5 after severe political and public backlash.
“I deeply regret it, and for that, I ask all citizens’ forgiveness,” said Merkel during a speech in parliament.
“The mistake is my mistake alone. A mistake must be called just that.”
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Merkel experiencing pushback from state leaders
Under Germany’s federal system, each of the country’s 16 states has the power to decide its rules regarding COVID-19.
Demmer said this patchwork response to the pandemic was “not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment.
Some states have imposed nighttime curfews. Others have refused to implement tougher lockdown restrictions despite the number of new coronavirus cases rising within their jurisdiction.
Many have even gone ahead with rolling back some lockdown restrictions despite a previous agreement that a state would implement an emergency lockdown if cases rise by a certain amount.
Merkel has been pressing state leaders to tighten lockdown restrictions within their jurisdictions. She has even threatened to use her federal powers to solve this supposed crisis.
One option being considered by Merkel was to amend the Infection Protection Act to lay out what would happen under certain public health situations, including what Germany is going through right now.
If the proposed amendment passes parliament, it could enable the federal government to enforce a nationwide lockdown without needing to seek approval from the leaders of the 16 states.
Demmer clarified to reporters that Merkel’s government was only considering this option and that no final decision had been taken yet.
Local newspaper Bild reported that lawmakers in the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party – Merkel’s party – are currently working on a draft law that would give the federal government more powers to get the alleged third wave of the coronavirus in the country back under control.
Armin Laschet, leader of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and leader of the CDU, has called for his own version of a lockdown, known as a “bridge lockdown” that is supposed to last for two to three weeks.
Markus Soeder the conservative leader of the state of Bavaria, has also consistently advocated for tougher lockdown restrictions.
Merkel is scheduled to meet with state leaders on Monday, April 12, to decide on what action Germany should take.
Laschet has called for the meeting with Merkel to be moved forward, but he hit resistance from his fellow state leaders.
On Wednesday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose by 9,677 to more than 2.9 million total cases and 77,401 deaths.
The RKI has warned that these numbers don’t yet show the full picture, since not all of the cases discovered over Easter have been tabulated yet.