German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday defended new coronavirus restrictions to lawmakers and lashed out at those who tried to dismiss the infection as harmless as the number of cases hit a new high.
In a speech before the Bundestag – the German parliament – that was interrupted by heckling from right-wing politicians, Merkel said the new measures “are appropriate, necessary and proportionate.” She said, “There is no other milder approach than reducing personal contacts to try and stop the infections chain and to change the course of the infections back to a level where we can handle it.”
Merkel spoke a day after she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed on far-reaching restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of bars and restaurants, limits on social contacts and bans on concerts and other public events.
But, as in most countries around the world, there has been pushback against such restrictions. There have been protests and reports of violence in some areas by those claiming the dangers of the virus have been overstated and restrictions are nothing more than a power grab.
When heckling broke out from populist politicians during Merkel’s speech, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schauble warned there would be consequences for their actions if they did not let the chancellor continue.
Merkel responded by lashing out at those who claim the virus is harmless, saying, “Lies and disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate, damage not only democratic debate but also the fight against the virus.”
She said, “When science has proven something is false then it must be clearly stated. Because our relation to facts and information not only affects democratic debate but human lives.”
Merkel told lawmakers that Germany is in a “dramatic situation” as it goes into winter, which she said would be “four long, difficult months. But it will end.”
Germany’s disease control center said local health authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests in the past day, pushing the country’s total since the start of the outbreak close to half-a-million.
The Robert Koch Institute recorded 89 additional deaths, taking Germany’s toll to 10,272.