Berlin – “Al-Quds Al-Arabi”: The German Interior Minister announced Tuesday that Germany intends to reduce International air traffic To its territory to “almost zero” in the face of continuous spread The COVID-19 Pandemic.
Horst Seehofer told the Bild daily, “The danger posed by the various viral mutations requires us to review and discuss strict government measures,” including “reducing air traffic to Germany to almost zero.”
The emergence of new mutated versions of the virus in Britain and South Africa, which are considered the most contagious, raised concern at a time when many countries are struggling to control the epidemic.
Vaccines rolling out slower than anticipated have heightened concerns.
Bild published on Tuesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her clear criticism of managing the Corona pandemic crisis, during a video conference with the heads of the parliamentary blocs of the Christian Alliance in the Federal Parliament and state parliaments.
The German newspaper reported, according to participants in the conference that took place on Sunday, that Merkel said during the conference: “Things are slipping out of our hands. We have to be tougher, otherwise we will return to what we were within 14 days. ”
“People in Germany who accept the strict restrictions expect us to protect them as much as possible from an explosion in the number of injured,” Seehofer told the Bild newspaper. Germany has recorded more than 2 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the epidemic and more than 52,000 deaths.
The newspaper reported that Merkel also criticized the travel of many Germans abroad, as she stated that during the Christmas holidays, 50 thousand Germans travel daily to the Canary Islands and the Maldives. “Why can’t we ban these travel?” Merkel said, adding that “air traffic should be reduced in a way that prevents people from reaching anywhere,” stressing that Germany needs a more stringent border system.
With regard to the virus mutations, Merkel described it as like living “on a powder keg,” noting that the reopening of shops and restaurants in mid-February is “uncertain”, explaining that in the event of reopening, the arrangement must be as follows: First day care centers and schools, then stores, then restaurants.
It is reported that Merkel and state government leaders decided last week, among other things, to extend the closure until next February 14, due to the possible consequences of the Corona mutation, which carries the risk of a rapid spread of infection.
Although Germany coped relatively well with the first wave of the Coronavirus last spring, it has been hit hard by a second wave in recent months.
The country renewed restrictions in November, closing bars, restaurants, and cultural and entertainment facilities. Measures tightened in December, with orders issued to close non-essential schools and shops.
The current shutdowns are set to last until at least mid-February.
Authorities are asking travelers arriving in Germany from countries where the new variants have been discovered to present a recent negative test upon arrival, which has led to long queues piling up on the German-Czech border.
Merkel called for the rapid distribution of limited Corona vaccines as possible, even in poor countries around the world. On Tuesday, during a meeting of the World Economic Forum, which is being held via the Internet instead of the traditional one in Davos this year, the German Chancellor explicitly opposed the adoption of nationalism as a way out of the Corona pandemic crisis during mass vaccination, and said: “This is related to the fair distribution (of vaccines) and not only the distribution of funds. “. She welcomed the conclusion of the International Initiative for Vaccination Against Corona “Kovacs” the first contracts for the purchase of vaccines, and said: “We will of course do everything in our power to ensure that the distribution begins quickly.”
Merkel stressed that, twelve months after the start of the pandemic, vaccines are still not available enough, but they are very promising, explaining that this means that there is a way out of the pandemic – even if it is still arduous and not as short as some had hoped.
The Chancellor announced an increase in efforts in the field of development cooperation, and called for the follow-up of the United Nations’ sustainability goals with greater focus, and said, referring to the industrialized countries, that “the biggest danger now after the pandemic is that we will all focus on ourselves first,” stressing the need not to neglect development efforts. As a German and European goal, Merkel promised: “We will not abstain from development cooperation, but rather we must take broader steps in this area.”