Germany's federal government is monitoring the coronavirus closely but practical responsibility lies increasingly with the 16 states, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday, warning care must be taken to avoid the virus spreading fast again.
As the number of new coronavirus cases has fallen, Germany has eased strict measures introduced in mid-March to slow the spread of the virus but now politicians from different regions are at odds on how far to go.
After talks with the leaders of the states in the former Communist East, some of whom have pushed for a shift away from strict rules to a loser approach based on recommendations, Merkel warned that the crisis was not yet over.
Germany Coronavirus crisis
"It hasn't gone away," said Merkel. "We have better control but the virus is still there," adding that while it was important for the central government to agree with the states on key questions, the states now have a bigger role to play.
"Now with the recent numbers, which we can be pleased with, responsibility lies more with the states," said Merkel, adding individual regions should decide on logistics, schools and hygiene. She said she was always ready to talk to the states.
Merkel, a scientist, reiterated her cautious approach.
"We are still at start of the pandemic," she told reporters, adding: "We can see ... how fast it can happen that infections spread so we have to be very careful."
Some local outbreaks in different parts of the country have in the last couple of weeks hit migrant workers in meat processing factories, worshippers at a church service and individuals who went to a restaurant.