Merkel aide warns of longer lockdown in Germany if rules too lax

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks her dog in the snow as stricter lockdown measures are in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Munich, Germany, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany faces the risk of a much longer coronavirus lockdown if the federal states do not consistently implement tougher restrictions, especially in light of a highly contagious new variant, an aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

“With every relaxation now, the likelihood of even longer necessary restrictions is greater and greater,” Helge Braun, head of Merkel’s office, told Reuters in an interview.

Like many other European countries, Germany is struggling to contain a second wave of the virus.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 26,391 in a day to 1.84 million, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Thursday. The overall death toll rose by 1,070 to 37,607.

In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on Tuesday agreed to extend a nationwide lockdown until the end of the month and introduce tougher restrictions.

Braun alluded to the fact that several states, such as Lower Saxony and Baden-Wuerttemberg, want to partially reopen primary schools as early as the middle of this month rather than keeping them shut until the end of the month as agreed.

Braun also warned against a complete loss of control due to the spread of a contagious new variant of the virus that has spread rapidly in Britain and which could mean that Germany has to agree even tougher restrictions at the end of January.

“Before the mutation can spread in Germany, we must get the overall infection situation under control,” he said.

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