Angela Merkel outlines plans for European Health Union
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Addressing the Bundestag on Thursday, the German leader insisted the extension of restrictions agreed with regional leaders until March 7 was needed to avoid a third wave due to the risk of new coronavirus variants. Mrs Merkel said: “I know what we have achieved in our fight against the virus has had, and is still having, a high price.”
But opposition parties hit out at Mrs Merkel over the lockdown extension.
FDP vice chairman Wolfgang Kubicki accused the Chancellor of an “open breach of law”.
He said: “A real strategy that goes beyond the simple-minded closings and bans is still missing after more than a year of the pandemic.”
AfD leader Alice Weidel fumed: “What the federal government is doing here is unconstitutional.”
She insisted Mrs Merkel was pursuing a “wrong policy that only seems to know prohibition and enforcement”.
She added: “Three months of a wave-breaker lockdown, and you want to add another month to it.
“The collateral damage of your method of locking up and closing is growing immeasurably.”
FDP leader Christian Lindner said: “The hopes of many people have been disappointed.
“Because these people expected much more than a fresh haircut.”
But CDU parliamentary group leader Ralf Brinkhaus defended the extended measures.
Pointing to a drop in coronavirus cases, he said: “The lockdown is working.”
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Mr Brinkhaus also argued countries in a better position than Germany had “beaten the numbers down in a radical lockdown”.
Mrs Merkel promised measures would not last a day longer than necessary.
She said: “As a democracy we have a duty not to keep the restrictions in place for a day longer than is necessary.”
She added that the vaccination programme offered hope for the coming months but admitted she understood disappointment with the speed of the rollout.
Mrs Merkel said patience was needed to avoid a third spike in the virus.
She said: “I don’t think that the back and forth – opening up then closing down again – brings more predictability for people than waiting a few days longer.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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