Merkel agrees stricter anti-coronavirus measures with German mayors

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the mayors of Germany’s largest cities agreed on Friday to adopt stricter anti-coronavirus measures, including tighter rules on mask-wearing and curbs on private social gatherings.

The new measures will be imposed if infection rates are more than 50 cases per 100,000 population in a week, Merkel said after the conference call. Softer measures would be taken once “the 7-day incidence number” reached 35.

She added, however, that her government’s top priority was to avoid shutting down the economy and society again. “These are the days and weeks that will determine in what shape Germany will get through winter in this pandemic,” Merkel told reporters. “Summer went very well overall, but we now see a picture that is cause for concern.”

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany since the start of the pandemic increased by 4,516 to 314,660, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported on Friday. The death toll rose by 11 to 9,589.

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Cities will determine if the country as a whole can keep the situation under control, according to the chancellor. She discussed the situation and potential measures with the mayors of Berlin, Bremen, Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt (Main), Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.

The economy needed to work, Merkel said, and schools should stay open. She also thanked Germany’s armed forces for helping local health authorities with contact tracing.

The Chancellor admitted that restrictions at weddings and other private events reached far into people’s lives. However, she defended the new measures, citing the serious situations in some neighboring states.

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