German governors, Merkel to discuss virus outbreak

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks Tuesday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states amid growing concern about the steep rise in new coronavirus cases in the country.

Merkel’s office confirmed Monday that the outgoing chancellor would have a video call with governors to discuss the outbreak, but declined immediately to provide details including whether any decisions would be made.

Germany’s highest court is due to decide Tuesday on complaints filed against nationwide restrictions to curb coronavirus infections that were imposed earlier this year under federal “emergency brake” rules. The ruling could provide officials with guidance on the legality of any new measures.

Official figures showed 29,364 newly confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, and 73 deaths. Infection rates have been particularly high in eastern and southern parts of the country, with hospitals there already forced to transfer intensive care patients to other parts of Germany.

The governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Hendrik Wuest, said governors and federal officials shouldn’t wait until the new government takes office next month before agreeing new, nationwide measures.

He called for common rules on reducing social contacts, financial help for companies affected by further restrictions and preparations for a possible vaccine mandate.

While Germany has had fewer deaths from COVID-19 per capita than some of its European peers — such as Britain, France and Italy — the country’s federal system has regularly slowed the decision-making process and resulted in a patchwork of different rules in each state.

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