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Germany’s new coalition government ‘thwarted Merkel plan for two-week lockdown’

Germany’s new government thwarted a plan by outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel to put in place a two-week Austria-style national lockdown, German tabloid Bild reported on Wednesday.

Germany's outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa POOL | Michael Kappeler
Germany's outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa POOL | Michael Kappeler

One of Germany’s new ‘traffic light’ coalition government’s first actions was to overrule a plan by the government of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel to put in place an immediate two-week lockdown. 

Merkel put forth the proposal on Tuesday evening, and according to Bild the lockdown would have applied from Thursday onwards. It was however knocked back by the incoming government, who said it would have been interpreted by the public as a “bad political trick” in tandem by the old and the new government, Bild reported on Wednesday afternoon

Citing several sources close to the government, Bild said Merkel wanted to cut rising infection rates through a ‘handbrake’ style national lockdown, which would have included closures of bars, restaurants and shops. 

READ ALSO: LATEST: Germany’s next government sets out roadmap for post-Merkel era

Like Austria’s lockdown, which came into effect on Monday, November 22nd, the measure would have applied not only to the unvaccinated, but also to those who have been vaccinated against Covid or who have recently recovered from the virus. 

Germany’s new Infection Protection Act came into effect on Wednesday, which prevents such a nationwide lockdown and instead places greater responsibility on Germany’s 16 federal states. 

Therefore, the new act restricts the current government’s power to put in place a nationwide lockdown should it be deemed necessary and will require agreement from the states should harsher measures be adopted. 

Covid cases have been surging in Germany in recent days, hitting record heights. 

Several parts of the country, primarily in the heavily-hit south, have put in place restrictive measures including stay at home orders and requiring restaurants to close. 

READ ALSO: UPDATE: European countries ‘must act urgently’ amid worsening Covid outlook

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POLITICS

‘A good thing’ for footballers to express values, says France’s PM

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne - speaking in Berlin - said that footballers should be allowed to express their values, amid controversy over FIFA's stance against the 'OneLove' armband on the pitch.

'A good thing' for footballers to express values, says France's PM

“There are rules for what happens on the field but I think it’s a good thing for players to be able to express themselves on the values that we obviously completely share, while respecting the rules of the tournament,” said Borne at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

Germany’s players made headlines before Wednesday’s shock loss to Japan when the team lined up for their pre-match photo with their hands covering their mouths after FIFA’s threat to sanction players wearing the rainbow-themed armband.

Seven European nations, including Germany, had previously planned for their captains to wear the armband, but backed down over FIFA’s warning.

Following Germany’s action, Wales and the Netherlands have since come out to say they would not mirror the protest.

Borne’s visit to Germany was her first since she was named to her post in May.

Following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two leaders signed an agreement for “mutual support” on “guaranteeing their energy supplies”.

Concrete measures outlined in the deal include France sending Germany gas supplies as Berlin seeks to make up for gaping holes in deliveries from Russia.

Germany meanwhile would help France “secure its electricity supplies over winter”, according to the document.

France had since 1981 been a net exporter of electricity to its neighbours because of its nuclear plants. But maintenance issues dogging the plants have left France at risk of power cuts in case of an extremely cold winter.

The two leaders also affirmed their countries’ commitment to backing Ukraine “to the end of” its conflict with invaders Russia.

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