Germans mostly obey curfews as Merkel plans further virus measures

Michael Zehender in Berlin and Cornelia Neumeyer, dpa

Germans mostly continued to obey restrictions on movement across several states on Sunday, ahead of a potential government decision to broaden curfews across the country in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

It has so far been left up to individual German states to make the population stay home. State authorities have reported only a few incidences of people meeting in groups, a practice doctors say should be avoided to stop the spread of the virus.

In the Bavarian town of Mitterteich, the first place in German to impose a curfew on Wednesday, five men had a barbecue and posted a selfie on the internet. Police said the men are awaiting charges for violation of the infection protection law, which at present is in place until April 3.

Also in Bavaria, police in Ingolstadt said officers had broken up a party with 15 guests while authorities in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate said there had been hardly any violations.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers plan to discuss via telephone later on Sunday whether there should be nationwide rules.

Lower Saxony’s State Premier Stephan Weil wants to avoid going too far with the curfews.

“Just imagine that families with several children in cramped apartments without a balcony and garden would not be able to go out into the fresh air at all. This is hardly imaginable over a longer period of time,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Meanwhile a huge package of economic measures – potentially amounting to hundreds of billions of euros – is set to be agreed at cabinet on Monday and could be made law by Friday.

Dpa has learned from sources at the Economics Ministry that the government is planning improvements to special credit programmes for medium-sized and large companies.

The state-owned development bank KfW is to take over 90 per cent of the credit risk for working capital loans instead of the previous 80 percent.

The disease first entered the human population in China late last year and has spread to over 300,000 people worldwide.

Germany is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus, which results in Covid-19 in a significant percentage of the population, a pneumonia-like disease that can be deadly.

Dpa data suggests there have been more than 21,600 infections in Germany to date with more than 70 deaths.

The University Hospital in Wuerzburg has taken a care home under its wing after nine people died there in connection to the virus.

“The wave of infection hit the nursing home when Covid-19 was still a rarity in Germany,” a hospital statement said.

Five patients from the care home are now being treated in the hospital’s infection ward, while 10 other residents have tested positive and require care.

Germans outside of the country are also in danger. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said there were major challenges in repatriating German tourists from abroad.

“Unfortunately, we cannot remedy all cases within the shortest possible time,” he told Funke media group.

In many countries, air traffic has come to a standstill. Since the beginning of the week, more than 100,000 Germans have returned home, but many more have registered to come back and are waiting for flights.

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