Merkel: Germany can avoid second coronavirus lockdown


German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she wanted to do everything in her power to avoid another national lockdown as coronavirus infection numbers rise again in Europe's largest economy, expressing confidence the goal was achievable.

"We all want to avoid a second national shutdown and we can do that," Merkel said, adding that people knew much more about how to protect themselves and the health system than they did back in March, when a national lockdown was implemented.

Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states have agreed to restrict the size of gatherings and to fine anyone who flouts tracking rules in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus over autumn and winter.

The German leader said on Tuesday a national lockdown should be avoided at all cost.

By European standards, Germany has experienced relatively low infection and death rates so far during the pandemic, but Merkel said cases could hit 19,200 per day if current trends continued.

The country reported 2,089 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 287,421, with 9,471 fatalities, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said.

Speaking in parliament, Merkel said the new restrictive measures over the winter months were necessary to save lives, expressing hope that the pandemic will one day end.

"I am sure that life as we knew it will return, families will celebrate again, and clubs, theatres and soccer stadiums will be full again," she said. "And what a joy this will be."

(Reporting by Michelle Adair; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Paul Carrel and Maria Sheahan)

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