Merkel urges Germans to accept ‘tough’ virus restrictions

International

FILE-In this March 30, 2021 taken photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel puts on her face mask after she briefs the media following a virtual meeting with federal state governors at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans to accept nationwide pandemic restrictions that came into force at midnight, resulting in nighttime curfews, further limits on personal contacts and access to non-essential stores in regions with high infection rates. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans to accept nationwide pandemic restrictions that took effect at midnight, resulting in a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew and further limits on personal contacts and access to nonessential stores in regions with high infections.

In her weekly video address Saturday, Merkel acknowledged that the new rules are “tough” but insisted they are needed to curb the spread of the virus in the country.

Germany’s disease control agency on Friday reported 23,392 newly confirmed cases and 286 more deaths from COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, Germany has recorded almost 3.3 million cases and 81,444 deaths.

Merkel said the new measures, which automatically take effect in regions with more than 100 new cases a week per 100,000 inhabitants, are “urgently needed.”

Citing other countries such as Britain, Portugal and Ireland that saw infection rates sharply reduced during strict lockdowns, she defended Germany’s new restrictions against critics who have called them excessive.

“No country that managed to break the third wave of the pandemic and then loosen restrictions again did so without tough measures such as nighttime curfews,” Merkel said.

Dozens of German celebrities this week posted videos mocking the restrictions. Some have since deleted their videos and apologized for echoing far-right narratives about the pandemic while appearing to downplay the suffering of those who lost loved ones to COVID-19.

Germany’s lawmakers this week approved legislation that applies an “emergency brake” consistently in areas with high infection rates, doing away with the patchwork of measures that characterized the pandemic response across the country’s 16 states.

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