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Laschet calls for broad debate : Dispute over exit strategy in coronavirus crisis

In Germany, the debate is intensifying about when and how the restrictions for German citizens issued due to the coronavirus crisis can be relaxed or lifted. After Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) asked for patience in her weekly podcast on Saturday and her Chancellor Helge Braun (CDU) emphasized in an interview with Tagesspiegel that he would not be debated about it now, there is opposition from powerful party colleague Armin Laschet .

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The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister, who is one of three candidates to date for the party chairmanship, takes a different view. "The sentence that it is too early to think about an exit strategy is wrong," writes Laschet in a guest post for "Welt am Sonntag". "We already have to take a look at the time in which the rigid measures are starting to have an effect."

Specifically, Laschet was referring to a statement by Merkel on Thursday. On Saturday, the Chancellor emphasized in her audio message: "Unfortunately, the daily numbers of new infections still give us no reason to slacken or loosen the rules." Relief. "

Laschet continues: “Now is the time to develop standards for a return to social and public life so that this decision is also based on transparent criteria.” “A broad, social consensus” is needed. It can "only grow on the basis of an intensive weighing of all medical, social, psychological, ethical, economic and political implications". This process takes time. "So that we know the standards during Easter and have established consensus, we have to start now."

The Chancellor receives support on this point from the coalition partner. The fastest possible return to normal is "our common goal," said SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans to the newspapers of the Funke media group. "But we are not there yet. The Chancellor is right with her warning. The peak of the wave of infections is still ahead of us. "

Of course, the gradual removal of the restrictions must be planned responsibly. "But please in the knowledge that stirring up false expectations jeopardizes the changes in behavior that have been laboriously achieved," warned Walter-Borjans. "In the worst case, there is a risk of both: a disastrous wave of infections and an economic collapse."

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Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) also warned: "First we have to wait and see what effect the measures will show," he said, "Bild am Sonntag". Hopefully more will be known around April 20th. "Now it's a matter of us all sticking to the rules, keeping our distance and slowing down the contagion."

The Vice Chancellor said: "I strongly advise everyone against loosening up economic issues." It is a matter of life and death. “I oppose any of these cynical considerations that you have to accept human death for the economy to run. I consider such considerations unbearable. "

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FDP boss Christian Lindner, who had previously called for an exit strategy, followed up on Sunday. "The current state must not last a day longer than is medically necessary," Lindner told the newspapers of the Funke media group. "We have to deal intensively with the question of what comes after the exit restrictions." The current situation is a great burden for each individual and for economic life.

Green leader Annalena Baerbock argued that in order to be able to decide when restrictions could be relaxed, Germany would have to use the next few weeks to strengthen the health system. "This applies above all to the provision of protective clothing," she told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" (FAS). "If other countries can produce millions of respiratory masks in a very short time, then our industrialized country should be able to do so too."

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has been commissioned by the heads of state and government of the European Union to develop a strategy for the possible end of exit restrictions, said in an interview with the dpa news agency that “a council of experts has been set up with virologists and epidemiologists who create models of when we could gradually relax the measures of 'social distance'. "

The important thing, said the CDU politician, is that it doesn't happen too early. “Because otherwise there is a risk that the virus will flare up again. On the other hand, it has to be done as quickly as possible so that our economy does not suffer unnecessarily. We trust the advice of medical professionals, but also of business experts who are familiar with supply chains. "

At the moment, no one can precisely predict a period when the situation will return to normal. It is a new virus, the whole world is learning. “You really have to look from week to week to see how the numbers develop.” Leyen continued: “We are in the fire extinguishing phase. We are working on an orderly, step-by-step exit strategy. Then comes the reconstruction phase. Only then will we be back to normal. This crisis is leaving deep marks and will keep us busy for a long time. "

The President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) Lothar Wieler also warns of a quick return to normality. "From a medical point of view, I want all of us to maintain the spatial distance for as long as possible," he told the "FAS". Germany is "still at the beginning of the wave". The RKI boss warned that people would have to take the pandemic “very seriously”. He warned that it could also be in Germany, for example in Italy. "We cannot rule out that we also have more patients than ventilation places in this country."

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