German legislators have passed a proposal by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to radically change COVID-19 restrictions in the country as police rounded up demonstrators in Berlin.
More than 150 people were arrested after police clashed with demonstrators near the Reichstag ahead of the vote, which has sparked controversy in a country already exhausted by 12 months of changing social distancing rules.
If passed by Germany’s upper house later this week, the changes to the Infection Protection Act will see automatic, uniform restrictions imposed in areas where coronavirus is spreading too fast.
This would include an immediately-imposed 10pm to 5am curfew, and the closure of leisure and sports facilities and shops, in areas where 100 weekly new cases per 100,000 residents are reported. Schools would also have to switch to distance learning at a higher rate of 165.
The proposal aims to harmonise the patchwork of different measures taken by Germany’s 16 states for much of the pandemic. But some German commentators have decried it as a move to centralise power to Berlin.