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Germany plans to lower bar for stricter coronavirus measures – draft

FILE PHOTO: A worker works at the “Corona Treatment Center Jaffestrasse” makeshift hospital being set up at the fairgrounds to treat patients following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Berlin, Germany April 23, 2020. Odd Andersen/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will lower the bar for triggering tougher local measures against the spread of the coronavirus, a draft proposal being discussed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers showed.

As the country records more than 5,000 new daily infections for the first time since April, Merkel and the 16 state leaders meet in Berlin to try to agree a common approach to tackling the new wave of the pandemic.

They plan to lower the threshold at which tougher measures take effect in certain areas to 35 from 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over seven consecutive days, the proposal seen by Reuters says.

That could mean much more of Germany would be affected by new restrictions on, for example, the number of people allowed at public and private events, the closing time of restaurants and bars and the wearing of face masks.

The government will extend help schemes to support companies badly hit by the pandemic, the draft says.

The current agreement between most German states preventing residents from areas with the highest levels of infections from staying in hotels in other parts of the country would be retained. Opposition to that agreement has grown in recent days, in particular as the autumn school holidays have started in many states.

The number of confirmed cases increased by 5,132 to 334,585 on Tuesday, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 43.

Armin Laschet, the premier of North-Rhine Westphalia, hopes that state leaders will agree on a “pragmatic solution” in Berlin as the most important thing was to focus on fighting the virus, he told TV station ARD on Wednesday.

Regional solutions in response to local outbreaks have been Germany‘s strengths so far, Laschet said. But as the number of areas that exceed the critical case load is growing, “we need unified rules”.

“The more clarity there is in the important things, the more one can differentiate locally when there are different occurrences,” Laschet said.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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