Brussels (Brussels Morning) Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel announces new coronavirus restrictions, to come into effect on Wednesday, having reached an agreement with heads of German states, DW reported yesterday, Sunday.
The new measures are to remain in effect until 10 January at the earliest in a bid to help Germany’s hospitals to weather the second wave of coronavirus infections without being overwhelmed.
At a press conference after her meeting with heads of German states on Sunday, Merkel stressed the importance of curbing the spread of the virus while warning that the rise of new infections is exponential.
Expected effects and goals
Because most stores, day care centres and schools are to close on Wednesday, the move is expected to disrupt retail, education and the general public in the run-up to the Christmas holidays. Merkel also proposed one-week of self-isolation for families who are planning to gather together to celebrate the holidays, noting that safety is paramount.
The restrictions imposed at the start of November were not enough, she observed, citing the enormous pressure being experienced by the healthcare system. Merkel insisted that infection rates must be brought down to allow authorities to resume contact tracing, something currently impossible because of the excessive rates being registered.
If the numbers of new infections do not drop below 50 per 100,000 residents by 10 January, the new restrictions could be extended.
Germany’s Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz, who also attended the meeting, promised that the government would provide financial aid to businesses and individuals affected by the new restrictions. The Finance Ministry announced that “companies, the self-employed and freelancers who are affected by closures from December 16” would receive financial support of up to 500,000 euro per month.
In addition to the announced closures, the government is encouraging employers to allow remote work and is urging religious institutions to adhere to hygiene rules, but has banned hymns and carol singing. Individual states are planning to ease restrictions on and around Christmas to facilitate family gatherings.
The Robert Koch Institute reports there were just over 20,000 new infections on Sunday, down from close to 30,000 on Friday. Doctors have warned that, in some parts of Germany, only 5 to 10% of intensive care capacities are available currently.