[World-news] German states demand April lockdown extension

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Several states are seeking to extend COVID-19 restrictions into April as Germany battles a third wave of the coronavirus, according to a draft plan obtained by news agencies on Sunday.

Several German states have called for coronavirus curbs to remain in place into April, according to a draft plan. Top officials are set to discuss the shutdowns on Monday.

The proposal comes as the coronavirus incidence rate crossed the critical mark of 100 cases per 100,000 people. The government had previously announced that this would be enough to trigger new curbs.

The draft document, seen by the DPA and AFP news agencies, cited the high infection rate, which is being “accelerated by COVID-19 variants.”

One step forward, two steps back?

Europe’s biggest economy had begun easing restrictions before the latest wave of infections. The authorities reopened schools in late February, and some shops were allowed to resume business earlier this month.

The remaining curbs are set to last until the end of March. On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with state leaders to decide how to proceed.

But with cases rising — 13,733 new infections recorded on Sunday — the worst-hit areas may soon have to reimpose restrictions, described as applying the emergency brake.

Merkel’s aide distances chancellor from lockdown plan

The head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, appeared to downplay concerns about a further extension.

He wrote on Twitter on Sunday that the draft document had not come from the chancellor’s office.

Merkel told a news conference on Friday that Germany should not hesitate to go into lockdown again if necessary.

“I had hoped that we would manage without using this emergency brake, but that won’t be possible if I look at the development of the past days,” she said.

DPA reported that the extension plan was drafted by states led by the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partners in Merkel’s ruling coalition.

SPD co-leader Saskia Esken threw her support behind the extended curbs on Twitter.

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