Germany on the brink: Coalition announces extra aid to help fight pandemic

The decision came after over seven hours of debate in the German chancellery between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD). As part of the additional measures, VAT for restaurants would be temporarily reduced to seven percent for food, while the amount of money paid out to support wages would increase.

The German state was previously paying up to 67 percent of net employee income if their hours had been temporarily hit by the pandemic.

But this has now been increased to 87 percent until the end of 2020, Bloomberg reports.

And the new measures will see an added 500 million euros go towards schools and pupils to boost digital learning.

In a statement following the news, coalition parties said: “Germany has successfully slowed down the Covid-19 pandemic through drastic restrictions.

“This has significant economic and social consequences.”

The parties added that the package will still allow the country to enforce further measures in future if need be, Reuters reports.

It adds that Germany – Europe’s biggest economy – has taken on new debt for the first time since 2013 due to its Covid-19 response, with its initial rescue package worth more than 750 billion euros.

It reportedly included 600 billion euros for business loans and direct stakes in firms.

Meanwhile Bloomberg reports that the German government expects output to decrease by five percent or more this year.

Nevertheless, Germany has been praised for its Covid-19 response, with the UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty saying that the UK should learn from Germany’s high testing levels.

Indeed, doubt has been cast over whether the government will meet its 100,000 tests-per-day target by the end of the month that Matt Hancock had set out a few weeks ago.

Department of Health figures show that 22,814 tests were carried out on April 21 – far lower than the target and with just seven days left to increase the number more than four times.

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This is despite Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, claiming in a Prime Minister’s Questions session yesterday that the country’s “capacity for tests is at 40,000 per day”.

In contrast, NPR reports that Germany is carrying out an estimated 120,000 tests a day as of April 21.

It also claims that the country produces the most of its own testing kits.

Germany has also announced plans to make the wearing of face masks compulsory on public transport throughout the country.

And most of its states will require people to wear face masks whilst shopping, the BBC reports.

This is something that the UK government will consider today when it examines advice from scientific advisors.

If approved, it would see the UK join other countries across the world including the US and Austria in advising or requiring the use of face masks in certain public settings.

Germany has reported 150,648 total cases of Covid-19 with 5,315 deaths and 103,300 recoveries, according to Worldometer data.

There were 2,195 new cases reported yesterday – an increase from 1,388 the day before.

However, active cases in the country have fallen consistently since April 10.

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