New coronavirus cases force greater restrictions in Germany, says Merkel aide

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany must continue to limit meetings of people and suppress unnecessary travel as the country faces an increase in Covid-19 cases, said Chancellor’s adviser Angela Merkel on Sunday.

“We should be a little more rigid in places where the infection spreads mainly, which are parties and, unfortunately, also trips,” the Chancellor’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told the public broadcaster ARD.

“We are at the beginning of a second wave and only the determination of politicians and the population will decide whether we can avoid it or slow it down,” he added.

Germany has managed to keep the number of new infections and deaths lower than many of its neighbors, but the daily number of new cases has jumped to more than 4,000 since Thursday, the highest since April.

Sunday’s count was below that, but this is because test results tend to be lower on weekends.

Merkel and the mayors of Germany’s 11 largest cities agreed on Friday to adopt stricter measures if the new cases exceed the limit of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in a week.

More than 20 cities are now above that level, which has created a patchwork of restrictions on travel within the country.

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder over the weekend proposed heavier fines for people who do not wear masks in mandatory places like public transport and shops – 250 euros compared to the current 50 euros, and 500 euros for repeat offenders. Braun said he agreed with harsh penalties.

Merkel will hold new negotiations with state premieres on Wednesday.

(Por Vera Eckert)

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