Merkel Cancels Meeting With Top German CEOs Over Testing Spat

Merkel Cancels Meeting With Top German CEOs Over Testing Spat

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Chancellor Angela Merkel called off a video conference with German business leaders on Friday because of a disagreement over the possibility of free tests for employees.

Merkel was unhappy with proposals from business leaders for offering Covid-19 tests, a German government official told Bloomberg. The chancellor wants more substantial proposals from business leaders before setting up another meeting, the official said.

Merkel announced the meeting on Wednesday after laying out steps to gradually ease lockdown restrictions, in part due to pressure from businesses. Part of the plan called for German companies to offer on-site employees at least one free Covid-19 test per week as a “social contribution” to the fight against the pandemic.

But before the scheduled video call with Merkel, the heads of companies in Germany’s benchmark DAX Index published their own initiative for vaccinating their employees.

The proposal was quickly rejected as it would have violated the government’s strategy of inoculating people in order of vulnerability, with the sick and the elderly being first in line. Because of this procedure, Merkel hasn’t had a vaccine yet.

While Merkel’s government has come under fire because of the lack of doses, the program is still bearing fruit with the infection rate in people over 80 plunging about 80% since late December.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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