BERLIN — Germany’s and France’s leaders urged caution on Friday to avoid the spread of a coronavirus strain that forced the United Kingdom to postpone the scheduled easing of pandemic restrictions in England this week.
Merkel told reporters in Berlin, “We can’t pretend that Corona is finished.”
“Even if it feels like it’s all over on a hot summer evening, one can learn from the example of Lisbon that things may change quickly,” she added. “That is why I believe it is important to exercise caution so that we may enjoy a summer with many but not all freedoms.”
In reaction to an increase in delta variant cases, Portuguese authorities prohibited to travel in and out of the capital region during the next weekends. The government revealed hundreds of fresh confirmed cases, primarily with the delta type, earlier this week, prompting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to put back the timetable for relaxing restrictions on social interactions by four weeks.
Merkel said it was nice to see thousands of fans at the last Germany-France match in Munich when asked about travel linked to the Euro2020 soccer event.
“However, when I see fully packed stadiums in other European nations, I’m a little doubtful whether that’s the correct response to the current situation,” she added, referring to Hungary, where officials have permitted games to take place with no restrictions on the number of spectators.
Merkel made the remarks before a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, the first foreign leader Merkel has hosted in Germany since last year.
Macron stated that it was critical to be cautious about the new strain and that the European Union will address how to better unify travel restrictions during the epidemic at an upcoming conference, something the EU has struggled to accomplish more than a year after the outbreak began.
Around half of the people in the EU, nations have gotten at least one dose of vaccination, and more than a third have had both. Britain, which quit the EU last year, has a higher vaccination rate than the rest of the EU.
Apart from the epidemic, the EU summit next week will also discuss foreign policy concerns including the bloc’s ties with Russia and Turkey, as well as the future of its shared defense and security strategy.
Macron praised US Vice President Joe Biden’s dedication to NATO.
“I believe we succeeded in establishing the concept that European defense and EU strategic autonomy are not an alternative to the trans-Atlantic organization, but rather an integral part of it,” Macron said of his recent talks with Biden at the Group of Seven and NATO.
Merkel agreed with him. “We can all be thankful that (Biden) has re-established an atmosphere of collaboration, in which everyone, of course, has a role to play,” she said.