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Coronavirus

Germany Aims to Unify Pandemic Restrictions

BERLIN — The German government aims to agree on a bill Tuesday that would shift more powers from state to federal authorities to set pandemic restrictions.

The country’s decentralized political system has resulted in an often confusing patchwork of rules and regulations to reduce coronavirus infections in Germany’s 16 states.

Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters on Monday that the goal of the bill is to have a single nationwide rule for all areas where there are more than 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Currently more than half of Germany’s 400 cities and counties have higher infection rates.

Some regions in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein with lower infection rates began reopening open-air dining in cafes and restaurants Monday.

The proposed bill would need to be passed by Parliament. Seibert said the government is already in talks with all parties to ensure that happens quickly.

One issue still being discussed is whether to make testing for COVID-19 compulsory in the workplace. The pro-business Free Democratic Party, which co-governs in some German states, opposes this requirement.

Germany’s disease control agency reported 13,245 newly confirmed cases on Monday, taking the total number of known COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic above 3 million. The Robert Koch Institute said there were 99 additional deaths, raising the total tally to 78,452.

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