Merkel urges Germans to reduce travel to curb coronavirus

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Saturday to curb social contacts and keep travel to a minimum, making a personal appeal after the federal and state governments struggled to agree on ways to contain a second wave of coronavirus infection.

“We have to do everything to prevent the virus from spreading out of control. Every day counts,” Merkel said in her weekly video podcast.

While Germany’s infection rates have been lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and hit a daily record high of 7,830 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infections diseases.

The reported death toll rose by 33 to 9,767.

“We have to go further,” Merkel said. “I appeal to you: meet with fewer people, either at home or outside. “Please forsake any journey that is not absolutely essential, every party that is not absolutely essential. Stay at home, where at all possible.”

Merkel’s appeal came as President Frank-Walter Steinmeier went into quarantine after a bodyguard tested positive for coronavirus, his office said. Steinmeier, whose role is largely ceremonial, has also been tested and is awaiting the result. German leaders have been unable to agree on tougher measures to contain a second wave. Courts in several regions have, meanwhile, overturned bans on hotel stays for visitors from infection hotspots.

Politicians and health experts have appealed to the public to take voluntary measures over and above those already prescribed – including wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing. Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg tested positive for coronavirus after attending a meeting with his European Union counterparts on Monday, his spokeswoman said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who also attended the meeting in Luxembourg, tested negative on Friday as did members of his team, his spokesman said.

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