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

Brussels to Luxembourg by train in two hours soon possible
The fastest train ride between Brussels and Luxembourg currently takes almost three hours, but that could be slashed to about two hours thanks to the ...
Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...
Belgian firms sent almost 266 billion euros to tax havens last year
Hundreds of Belgian firms sent close to 266 billion euros to tax havens last year, De Tijd reported on Saturday. Any Belgian individual or firm ...
Belgian investigator wins prestigious US prize
Olivier Hardy, an investigator with the federal police’s anti-terrorist unit in Brussels, DR3, received on Friday a "Top Cop" prize in Washington for ...
Pegasus Project: European Parliament awards journalism prize to investigation of use of spyware
The Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded on Thursday to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories ...
Belgians can now test their knowledge of driving rules and win prizes
The Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR) launched on Friday a quiz to allow the general public to test their knowledge of the highway code. Last year, ...
600 extras wanted for film about Belgian ‘Porn King’ and notorious Antwerp nightclub
A Belgian movie telling the story of a notorious Antwerp nightclub with connections to a Belgian 'Porn King' is looking for 600 extras at the end of ...
Namur Marathon relaunches after two years on hold
The next edition of the Namur Marathon will take place on April 24, 2022, its organisers announced on Friday, as they also opened registrations. ...
Lidl goes on strike: Half of supermarkets in Belgium closes on Saturday
One in two Lidl shops remained closed on Saturday morning, Lidl spokeswoman Isabelle Colbrandt said. Staff have been on strike for several days to ...
€220 million: Largest ever lottery prize in Europe won in France
A record-breaking €220 million Euromillions jackpot was won on Friday by a player in France, the French gaming authority (FDJ) has announced. The ...