German lawmakers flag private party ban as coronavirus cases rise

FILE PHOTO: Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter Borjans (not pictured), leaders of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) attend a news conference after a board meeting at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Germany, February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Mang

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany should temporarily ban private parties, several lawmakers suggested on Sunday, after the number of coronavirus infections in Europe’s largest economy reached a four-month high.

The number of confirmed cases in Germany rose by 2,034 to 232,082, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday, the highest level since late April. The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,267.

“We must not risk that day care centres and schools will close again and that children are forced to remain at home for weeks because we have accepted higher infection rates due to lax rules at family parties,” Saskia Esken, co-leader of the Social Democrats, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) newspaper.

Ralph Brinkhaus, leader of the CDU/CSU conservative parliamentary bloc, said: “Unfortunately since the start of summer a certain recklessness has spread.”

The remarks come ahead of a planned meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel with the premiers of Germany’s federal states on Thursday to discuss a unified approach to the next steps.

“Private festivities are a great danger,” Ursula Nonnemacher, health minister of the state of Brandenburg, told FAS, adding there was a real risk of “hard contact restrictions” should new infections continue to rise.

Reporting by Alexander Ratz and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Alex Richardson