Calls grow in Merkel’s party for end to German lockdown in February

The are growing calls in Angela Merkel's Union party to end the lockdown in the middle of February, as concerns grow for the future of small businesses.

Calls grow in Merkel's party for end to German lockdown in February
Closed bars in Hannover. Photo: DPA

The vice chairman of the Union parliamentary group, Georg Nüßlein, called on Friday for a definitive end to the lockdown on February 14th. 

“Due to the lockdown's massive impact, it is not responsible to keep imposing it nationwide until the incidence number falls below 50 or below 35,” the CSU politician told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

“If something dramatic doesn't happen in the next few weeks – for example a massive spread of mutated viruses – then we'll have to take a different path from the current one by mid-February at the latest,” he said.

Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) also said he wants to start relaxing the rules in February, if it is possible. He told Die Welt newspaper he would start with schools and hairdressers.

“In March, we can then talk about retail. And after Easter it'll be the turn of gastronomy,” he said.

The opening of schools has been a hotly contested issue during the pandemic.

CDU faction leader Ralph Brinkhaus warned against opening them too quickly.

“We are all doing ourselves no favours by allowing face-to-face teaching too soon,” he said. 

“Health comes first,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse, adding that the new virus mutations made him “very worried.”

The dispute over an end to the lockdown comes as the rate of infection continues the downward trend seen through most of January.

German health offices reported 16,417 new infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day on Saturday morning. A further 879 deaths in connection with the virus were also recorded.

One week ago, the RKI recorded 18,678 new infections and 980 new deaths.

The highest number of new infections registered within 24 hours, 33,777, was reported on December 18th, although that number included 3,500 delayed reports.

The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants was 112.6 on Saturday morning, according to the RKI.

The peak incidence of 198 was reached on December 22nd last year.

SEE ALSO: What you should know about Germany's stricter lockdown measures

Member comments

  1. That should have been a factor they considered before making this knee-jerk reaction & destroying more lives unnecessarily.

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End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden’s Covid laws really means

With the expiry of Sweden's two temporary Covid-19 laws, the downgrading of the virus's threat classification, and the end of the last travel restrictions, April, officially at least, marks the end of the pandemic. We explain what it means.

End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden's Covid laws really means

What are the two laws which expire on April 1st? 

Sweden’s parliament voted last week to let the two temporary laws put in place to battle the Covid-19 pandemic expire on April 1st.

The first law is the so-called Covid-19 law, or “the law on special restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 illness”, which was used during the pandemic to temporarily empower the authorities to limit the number of visitors to shops, gyms, and sports facilities. It also gave the government power to limit the number of people who could gather in public places like parks and beaches. 

The second law was the “law on temporary restrictions at serving places”. This gave the authorities, among other things, the power to limit opening times, and force bars and restaurants to only serve seated customers.  

What impact will their expiry have? 

The immediate impact on life in Sweden will be close to zero, as the restrictions imposed on the back of these two laws were lifted months ago. But it does means that if the government does end up wanting to bring back these infection control measures, it will have to pass new versions of the laws before doing so. 

How is the classification of Covid-19 changing? 

The government decided at the start of February that it would stop classifying Covid-19 both as a “critical threat to society” and “a disease that’s dangerous to the public” on April 1st.

These classifications empowered the government under the infectious diseases law that existed in Sweden before the pandemic to impose health checks on inbound passengers, place people in quarantine, and ban people from entering certain areas, among other measures. 

What impact will this change have? 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a disease that’s dangerous to the public”, or an allmänfarlig sjukdom, people who suspect they have caught the virus, are no longer expected to visit a doctor or get tested, and they cannot be ordered to get tested by a court on the recommendation of an infectious diseases doctor. People with the virus can also no longer be required to aid with contact tracing or to go into quarantine. 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a critical threat to society”, or samhällsfarlig, the government can no longer order health checks at border posts, quarantine, or ban people from certain areas. 

The end of Sweden’s last remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions

Sweden’s last remaining travel restriction, the entry ban for non-EU arrivals, expired on March 31st.  This means that from April 1st, Sweden’s travel rules return to how they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

No one will be required to show a vaccination or test certificate to enter the country, and no one will be barred from entering the country because their home country or departure country is not deemed to have a sufficiently good vaccination program or infection control measures. 

Does that mean the pandemic is over? 

Not as such. Infection rates are actually rising across Europe on the back of yet another version of the omicron variant. 

“There is still a pandemic going on and we all need to make sure that we live with it in a balanced way,” the Public Health Agency’s director-general, Karin Tegmark Wisell, told SVT

Her colleague Sara Byfors told TT that this included following the “fundamental recommendation to stay home if you are sick, so you don’t spread Covid-19 or any other diseases”.