Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, has voted in favor of an amendment to the Infection Protection Act on Wednesday, which would allow the federal government to impose nationwide lockdown measures against Covid-19.
In a roll call vote, 342 voted for the bill, 250 opposed and 64 abstained, according to the parliament website.
If the bill passes the Parliament’s upper house on Thursday, the government will be empowered to enact an “emergency break” lockdown which would trigger nightly curfews in some areas with high infection rates from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time (CET) with the exception that people can be outside until midnight if they are out alone. The bill also calls for strict regulations of schools in regards to in-person and online learning.
Up until now, Germany’s 16 states held the balance of power to self-determine their own Covid-19 measures. But the federal government sought a more unified approach to battle continuing Covid-19 infections amid a slower-then-hoped for vaccination rollout.
There has been widespread criticism in the lead-up to the vote with members of the public and the political opposition questioning if a coherent federal approach to the Covid-19 crisis was compatible with Germany’s constitution.
Hundreds have been protesting across Berlin Wednesday against allowing the federal government greater powers, live pictures showed. There were violent clashes with the police and 152 protestors have been arrested, according to Berlin police.
If the bill passes Germany's upper house, the amendment becomes law, and the changes could go into effect as early as Friday.