Germany’s Merkel: ‘We are still at the beginning of the pandemic’

Berlin (dpa) – As Germany’s states move to ease restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for unity and consideration of others on Wednesday, after some argued that protective measures should be lifted more quickly.

Merkel also emphasized the need for agreement on basic principles, following a video conference with heads of the state governments in the eastern part of the country.

She listed people staying at least 1.5 metres away from each other, and covering their mouths and noses on public transport and where social distancing was not possible, as fundamental to a shared protective approach.

Likewise, Merkel stated that the limit of 50 new infections, or 35 in some states, per 100,000 per week, as a critical point at which steps should be taken to prevent cases from rising.

Her comments came after calls by one of the 16 state premiers, Bodo Ramelow of Thuringia, for a less restrictive strategy.

Merkel underlined that consideration was needed of others, to enable as many people as possible to participate in public life.

“We are at the beginning of the pandemic. We don’t have a vaccine or medicine,” she said, adding that Germany does have more control over the virus, and thanked citizens for their continued care.

Merkel warned that new outbreaks can otherwise arise quickly, citing a chain of infections associated with a church in Frankfurt, and another that has been traced back to a restaurant in Lower Saxony.

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