Merkel agrees with local gov't leaders on tighter COVID-19 rules

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-28 01:21:26|Editor: huaxia

BERLIN, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- After a long video conference on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states agreed on tighter COVID-19 measures to counter the latest trend of rising daily infection numbers.

"We want to keep our healthcare system strong during the pandemic because it benefits (not just) everyone, but also the economy and public life," Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin.

In the future, a fine of at least 50 euros (59 U.S. dollars) would be imposed for violations of face mask rules, for example, in shops and public transport.

The compulsory use of masks was "by far the mildest means" of containing the pandemic, said Markus Soeder, minister president of Bavaria, at the press conference. "If there is a growing incidence of infection, it is not justifiable to allow any form of events," Soeder added.

Germany's federal and state governments also agreed to stop free coronavirus tests for those entering from non-risk areas from the end of the summer vacations in mid-September.

Returnees from risk areas could only end the required coronavirus quarantine with a negative test taken five days after their return. This regulation is to apply from Oct. 1 if possible. "We will endeavor to have the broadest possible test capacities," Merkel said.

"The federal and state governments strongly appeal to all travel returnees to comply with the quarantine obligation," said Merkel, adding that a breach of the quarantine would result in significant fines.

Travelers to known COVID-19 risk areas would have a certain amount of personal responsibility, said Soeder. "It is our task to protect the reasonable from the unreasonable."

German media reported on Thursday that private parties at home would be limited to 25 participants. However, the federal and state governments failed to agree on a nationwide upper limit for the number of participants at celebrations with family and friends. Enditem