Germany must not hesitate to introduce emergency measures and return to a hard lockdown if necessary, Chancellor Angela Merkel said following a summit between the country’s federal and state governments.
State and federal representatives had agreed to impose a hard lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading, if the so-called seven-day incidence rate reaches more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over one week again, reports dpa news agency.
“I had hoped that we would manage without using this emergency brake, but that won’t be possible, if I look at the development of the past days,” Merkel said on Friday.
As the country records a third wave of the pandemic, with the more contagious British variant spreading rapidly, some states have already imposed restrictions, while others paused planned easing.
The seven-day incidence rate rose to 95.6 on Thursday, up from 90 the day before, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control.
“Unfortunately we will have to make use of the emergency brake,” the Chancellor noted.
She also said the aim was to make the country’s inoculation programme “faster and more flexible”, while continuing to prioritise those most vulnerable to infection first.
“The motto is: vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate,” Merkel said, urging more flexibility alongside the famed German efficiency.
During their talks, Merkel and the state premiers agreed that vaccines would not only be distributed by vaccination centres but also by family doctors, starting as soon as April.
The move comes as Germany tries to accelerate the slow roll-out of jabs, so far largely carried out at special centres, amid shortages in vaccine deliveries.
Germany has so far registered 2,645,199 coronavirus cases and 74,466 deaths.