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Merkel meets with German state premiers to discuss lockdown extension



German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet with the country’s 16 state premiers on Wednesday to discuss how to proceed in containing the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a draft paper seen by dpa, ahead of the meeting, it was likely that current restrictions would be extended, possibly until March, as they expire on Feb. 14.

Germany has been under some form of lockdown since November, which has forced the closure of schools, kindergartens and non-essential businesses.

Some federal states have already drawn up individual plans for an incremental reopening of kindergartens and schools from next week.

It was initially unclear how an extension of lockdown measures and school openings could be reconciled.

Merkel, on Tuesday, said she firmly opposes any form of easing until March 1, according to sources present at an online meeting of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

At the meeting, Merkel also said it was crucial to push down the infection rate before the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain gained the upper hand.

Differences with the premiers remain, she said.

Babatunde Abdulfatah

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