Chancellor Angela Merkel is raising eyebrows across Europe for a veiled yet blistering critique of how other countries have handled coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions. It came in the context of urging Germans to take distancing measures seriously over the holidays and while justifying a new lockdown, which has included school closures.
On Wednesday while addressing Germany's parliament in Berlin she touted that she's led a sensible, balanced and "flexible" response while avoiding the extreme of "dictatorship"-style restrictions as in other countries.
"Our political action is different from what they do in countries that are more like a dictatorship," Merkel told the parliament. She described that the appropriate answer from federal and local governments is not blanket bans on activities but policies that emphasize "the responsible behavior of each individual."
Many German citizens might disagree, however, given rolling protests in major cities since last month provincial governments were given formal approval to enact a second wave of shutdowns, including of restaurants, cultural sites and entertainment and leisure venues such as sports complexes.
Berlin called the measures a "lockdown lite" given it wasn't done according to a 'one size fits all' policy. Authorities have blamed 'extremists' for holding large maskless demonstrations protesting the new shutdowns after cases recently spiked ahead of winter.
Germany has still faired better than other countries, despite its over 1.2 million cases including 20,000 deaths from COVID-19. Merkel in her Wednesday remarks said this number remains "too high".
Police stand between anti-lockdown protesters and counter-demonstrators in #Bremen, Germany. Police break up banned Bremen lockdown protest. An anti-lockdown group in Bremen had filed an urgent court appeal in ... pic.twitter.com/j9DrnMlHwk— H24 (@H24News_) December 5, 2020
Though she didn't name countries she deems to have led a "dictatorial" response to fighting coronavirus, there's lately been multiple viral videos showing harsh police crackdowns related to violating social distancing measures out of places like the UK, Australia, and Israel.
Merkel further reportedly indicated that the majority of the population would not have access to a coronavirus vaccine until much later in 2021.