Share article:
Share article:

Germany prepares tougher coronavirus measures

© Belga

Faced with a second wave of Coronavirus infections, Germany is preparing to close “non-essential” businesses for at least three weeks from Wednesday to avoid experiencing an uncontrollable spike in new cases due to the end-of-year holidays.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday began a videoconference with the heads of Germany’s 16 Länder (regions) with a view to imposing more drastic measures, rendered necessary by the record number of new Covid-19 infections in recent days.

According to a draft agreement between the Federal State and the Länders, of which AFP obtained a copy, schools along with most businesses would be closed from Wednesday to 10 January. Businesses would also need to have their staff work more from home.

Social contacts would need to be limited to a maximum of five adults from two different households. They would also need to be further restricted from 24 to 26 December, when only the closest family members would be able to meet.

After closing restaurants, bars, theatres, cinemas, museums and sporting facilities for six weeks, Germany has been forced to admit that these restrictions have not been enough.

“The situation is still very serious,” Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch health monitoring institute, warned on Thursday. The virus keeps spreading because people have not done enough to reduce their contacts, he said.

In fact, with the approach of the yearend festivals, many Germans can be seen grouped around mulled wine or waffle stands in all the country’s cities, prompting Chancellor Merkel to express grave concern about the matter in the Bundestag this week.

Certain department stores and shopping centres were almost taken by storm on Saturday, with long queues of customers standing outside them, waiting to do their Christmas shopping.

However, in an open letter to the Chancellor, about 30 retailers warned against the dramatic fallout that a new closure of stores just before Christmas could have.

The number of new infections almost topped the 30,000 mark on Friday and again on Saturday. This was way above the average for the first wave of infections, which Germany had been better able to control than many other European countries.

On Thursday, daily deaths from COVID-19 hit a record 598.

Some regions did not wait on Sunday’s meeting to take measures. In Saxony, the Länder worst affected by the epidemic, stores and schools will be closed from Monday.

On Wednesday, Angela Merkel had launched a vibrant appeal in the Bundestag for people to limit contacts to a minimum, including at Christmas and on New Year’s Day.

“If we have too many contacts now before Christmas, and that ends up making it the last Christmas with the grandparents, then we will have failed,” she said.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

More women take police selection tests in Belgium
The selection tests to become a police inspector have more and more female participants, according to figures released by Interior Affairs Minister ...
‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules
Several city councillors for education in Brussels are calling to abolish the "absurd" differences in coronavirus measures for Dutch-speaking and ...
Massive renovations for iconic venue in the heart of Brussels
Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique has announced plans to renovate the AB Café and the AB Salon and is looking for a contractor fit for the job. ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Test results show pupils have fallen behind in Flemish schools
Learning delays have been reported in almost all subject areas in Flanders since the start of the pandemic, a trend that continued in 2021, a ...
Belgium considers relaxing testing rules for UK travellers
At the next Consultative Committee meeting, Belgium will look into relaxing the testing and entry policy for travellers coming from the United ...
Jette libraries start giving plants away with books
Visitors to libraries in the Brussels municipality of Jette will soon be able to pick up a free plant along with a book, thanks to the new Plantotek ...
‘Do what you want, but do it as safely as possible,’ experts warn
As the daily number of new coronavirus infections exceeds 3,000 for the first time since May, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe and ...
‘We’re running dry’: Brussels teacher shortage reaches critical levels
The teacher shortage in Brussels is affecting schools across language borders, according to Brussels’ Minister for Multilingualism and Dutch ...
New coronavirus infections above 3,000 for first time since May
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has skyrocketed to the highest rate since the start of May 2021. Between 9 and 15 October, ...
Belgium in Brief: Getting To The Airport
When I saw the news of plans for a tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels' outskirts to the airport, my first reaction was sheer joy.  Let ...
EU should invest €5 trillion in climate plan, says State Secretary for Economic Recovery
The European Union must invest €5 trillion in its climate plan over the next decade to "retain its credibility as a political project," according ...