The new “Infektionsschutzgesetz”, in its third change since the beginning of the pandemic, describes the measures the government can take in response to a nationwide epidemiological situation. Basically, it gives Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn the power to make decisions over the heads of state prime ministers, regional parliaments and mayors, Bild writes, quoted by Deutsche Welle.
The law, proposed by Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, was passed with 415 votes in favor and 236 against, said Wolfgang Schaeuble, president of the lower house of the Bundestag.
Protesters who took to the streets in Berlin yesterday oppose the new anti-epidemic restrictions imposed by the Angela Merkel government and have asked members of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, not to validate the measures. But lawmakers approved the restrictions on Wednesday afternoon.
The protests degenerated. Up to 2,200 police officers were deployed in the German capital. Law enforcement forces used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters.
At least nine police officers were injured in clashes with protesters. Three police officers are hospitalized. About 200 protesters were detained.
The health crisis is still very serious in Germany, even though the number of infections with the new coronavirus is not growing so fast.
30-40% of Germany’s population belongs to vulnerable groups, including the elderly and those who already have other health problems.
“We need to reduce contacts, reduce contacts, reduce contacts,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Every day counts in the fight against coronavirus,” she said.
Federal and state leaders postpone decision on new containment measures until November 25
Germany imposed an easier ‘lockdown’ on November 2 for a month, in an attempt to control the second wave of the pandemic, which affects much of Europe. Bars and restaurants are closed, but schools and shops remain open.
Germany currently has an incidence of 141 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Robert Koch Institute.