Merkel urges Germans not to jeopardize the achievements of the coronavirus

BERLIN: Urged Germans to be `` brave and vigilant '' on Wednesday as the country comes out of its closure, asking them to avoid a relapse to tighter restrictions, even as officials establish plans to relax border controls.

it began loosening the restrictions on April 20, about a month after its introduction. Relaxation has accelerated over the past week, with the country's 16 state governments _ responsible for imposing and loosening the blockades _ gradually opening restaurants, schools, gyms and other facilities. The rules of social distancing remain in force.

Some German regions have been less patient than others, and Merkel has consistently advocated for caution. On Wednesday, he said he sees `` an obligation not to jeopardize what we have accomplished. ''

`` It would be depressing if, because we want too much and too fast, we had to go back to the restrictions that we all want to leave behind, '' Merkel said in a question-and-answer session in parliament. `` So let's be brave and vigilant - let's reopen public and economic life and always keep in mind the development of the pandemic. ''

Merkel rejected criticism of the closure of the coronavirus and its economic fallout from the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which asked if she could rule out tax increases to cover its costs.

`` As of today, no increases in levies or taxes are planned, '' he said. Merkel also rejected calls from the left for a wealth tax.

Germany, which has seen a higher number of infections but a lower death rate than many other countries, has seen a significant drop in new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks. It has registered more than 173,000 infections and 7,756 deaths.

Still, at least 260 workers at the Westfleisch slaughterhouse in northwest Germany have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Merkel government established plans to loosen border controls that Germany introduced in mid-March.

Minister of interior Horst Seehofer Such controls at the Luxembourg border will be withdrawn on Saturday. Germany is also poised to end controls on the Danish border, but Copenhagen continues to consult with other neighbors.

At Germany's borders with France, Switzerland and Austria, all border crossings will be opened, instead of the ones selected at the moment, and the authorities will switch to controls instead of systematic controls.

Seehofer said the goal is to restore free travel across Germany's borders on June 15, `` but that assumes that we remain energetic in the fight against infection. '' He said controls could increase if infections increase in neighboring countries, particularly near the border.

Seehofer also recommended that state governments remove the requirement that people arriving from other countries in Europe be quarantined for 14 days _ but said that people arriving from other nations, such as the United States and Russia, should still do so.

That rule, introduced last month, applies to all people who arrive in Germany, except those who were on very short trips, who traveled to their jobs, transported goods, or performed other essential functions. It has already been suspended in one state, Lower Saxony, by a regional court.