Germany divided over plans to nix rules despite outbreaks

A ball boy gets a ball from the empty tribune prior the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and FC Augsburg at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, May 24, 2020. The German Bundesliga becomes the world’s first major soccer league to resume after a two-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
People enjoy the warm sunny weather during the opening day of the public open air pool in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, May 21, 2020. Public swimming pools in Germany are starting the summer season as the government is easing the coronavirus lockdown rules. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
People attend the open air Ascension Day service of the protestant church in Jena, Germany, Thursday, May 21, 2020. The feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, also called Ascension Day, commemorates the Christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven. Because of the corona pandemic, a large number of services are held outdoors. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

BERLIN (AP) — A spat is brewing between Germany’s federal government and state governors over plans by some regional leaders to end pandemic-related restrictions despite fresh clusters of cases across the country.

The country has seen a steady decline in the overall number of COVID-19 cases thanks to measures imposed 10 weeks ago to limit personal contacts.

But as restrictions have slowly been lifted there have also been case spikes across Germany linked to slaughterhouses, restaurants, religious services, nursing homes and refugee shelters.

The governor of Thuringia state, Bodo Ramelow, said Saturday that he hopes to lift the remaining statewide lockdown rules on June 6 and tackle outbreaks locally.

The neighboring state of Saxony said Monday that it, too, is aiming for a “paradigm change” on pandemic rules from June 6 if infections remain low.

Federal and state officials agreed earlier this month that restrictions would be re-imposed if there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a city or county within a week.


German Health Minister Jens Spahn cautioned Monday against giving the impression that the pandemic is over.

Spahn told tabloid paper Bild that “on the one hand we are seeing whole regions where there are no new reported infections for days. And on the other hand local and regional outbreaks in which the virus is spreading quickly again and immediate intervention is required.”

Germany has reported more than 180,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 8,300 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


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