Germany mulls nationwide curfew to combat coronavirus

BERLIN (AA) – The German government is weighing to impose a nationwide curfew to stem the spread of the coronavirus, local media reported on Friday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun told Der Spiegel weekly that the government would first look at the behavior of the population this weekend to see whether the recently issued restrictions were followed.

“Saturday is a crucial day. We have our eye on that day in particular,” he said.

Merkel is scheduled to meet on Sunday with premiers of 16 German federal states to review anti-coronavirus measures, and discuss possible further measures.

Germany is the third-worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, after Italy and Spain.

As of Friday, confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 16,666 and the death toll has reached to 44, according to the statistics released by local health authorities.

Earlier this week, the government called on the citizens to limit all social engagements, and decided to shut down all non-essential businesses, shops, bars and sport venues to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

But reports of continued partying and gatherings, picnics in parks across the country have led to calls for a nationwide curfew in the country.

State premiers of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg have announced earlier that a curfew would be the only remaining instrument if current measures to halt coronavirus were not followed by everyone.

Germany’s southwestern city of Freiburg already announced on Thursday a citywide curfew for at least two weeks, becoming the first major local authority to take a drastic measure to stem the spread of the virus, also known as COVID-19.

The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China last December, has spread to at least 163 countries and regions around the globe, killing over 10,000 people as of Friday.

Out of more than 245,400 confirmed cases, over 86,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a “global pandemic.”