Merkel under fire as virus strategy sparks anger from all sides #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Merkel under fire as virus strategy sparks anger from all sides

InternationalNov 19. 2020Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, pauses during a news conference in Duisburg, Germany, on Aug. 28, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Sarah Pabst.Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, pauses during a news conference in Duisburg, Germany, on Aug. 28, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Sarah Pabst. 

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Arne Delfs, Raymond Colitt · BUSINESS, WORLD, HEALTH, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS, EUROPE, HEALTH-NEWS

Chancellor Angela Merkel came under pressure as a protest over her strategy to quell the coronavirus turned violent and a close ally issued a public rebuke.

Berlin police used water cannons to break up a large demonstration near Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday. Participants — which totaled 14,000 people, according to police — refused to abide by distancing and hygiene rules, while some threw bottles and other objects.

Pressure has been growing on German authorities, which are facing a crunch meeting next week to lay out a long-term plan to fight the pandemic. With restrictions likely to be extended and intensified, public anger and political tensions are rising.

The demonstration was organized to oppose a law being debated by the Bundestag that would expand the government’s powers to place restrictions on the public. Critics say the measures go too far. The far-right Alternative for Germany likened the legislation to policies under authoritarian regimes.

While the freedom of assembly must be guaranteed, social distancing and other rules to contain the spread of the virus must also be respected, government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said during a regular news conference.

Two weeks into a partial shutdown — which closed bars and restaurants but kept schools and most shops open — Germany’s contagion rates are still nearly triple the level authorities have determined to be manageable.

While activists on the streets carried signs of Merkel in prison uniform, Armin Laschet — the premier of Germany’s most populous state and a leading candidate to succeed her as chancellor — addressed a conference on Wednesday, calling Merkel’s pandemic strategy into question.

He said the costs of shutting down chunks of the economy risk running out of control. He also took aim at Merkel’s proposals earlier this week to impose strict restrictions on children, saying participants lined up against the chancellor.

“The state will not be able to afford months of paying billions to compensate lost revenue,” Laschet said. Payments of more than 10 billion euros ($11.9 billion) for reimbursing restaurants are “a major effort that won’t be repeatable in this form in December, January and February.”

Laschet’s comments represent a rare attack by the moderate premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, who is one of the top candidates to run Merkel’s Christian Democratic party. The post would put him in a strong position to lead Germany’s conservative bloc into next year’s elections. His main rival is long-time Merkel critic Friedrich Merz.

Merkel drew widespread criticism from state leaders for proposing at a Monday meeting that children limit their playmates to one other kid and masks should be mandatory throughout schools.

“We will have to learn to live with the virus, knowing that infection rates are there, but still maintain social and economic life,” Laschet said.

Health Minister Jens Spahn defended the latest virus strategy, including the legislation, urging citizens and lawmakers to work together to tackle the pandemic.

“The virus is dynamic, and we must be too,” Spahn said in a speech in the lower house of parliament. “We need the authority and instruments to act and make decisions to protect our citizens.”

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