Germany will enter partial containment on Wednesday for more than three weeks with the closure of “non-essential” businesses and schools, in an attempt to curb “the exponential growth” of infections before the end of the year holidays, according to Angela Merkel.
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After a tour de table with the leaders of the 16 regional states, the Chancellor announced on Sunday a series of new restrictions that will remain in force until January 10.
Closure of all businesses except food stores, pharmacies, drugstores, etc., closure of schools three days before the start of holidays which will also be extended by one week, appeal to employers to favor costs what does telework cost: the head of government wants to react to the “exponential growth” of infections and to “very many deaths”.
“We are forced to act and we are acting now,” said the Chancellor.
For three and a half weeks, the authorities wish to “apply throughout the country the principle of we stay at home”, according to the text of the resolution adopted by the federal state and the Länder.
In fact the Germans will regain the partial confinement they had known for several weeks in the spring. But if they are ordered to drastically limit their contacts and avoid travel within the country and abroad, they are not subject to permits to leave their homes and have never been confined so far. strict as in France.
Social contacts will however have to remain very limited from December 24 to 26 when meetings will only be possible between members of very close family.
The New Year’s Eve festivities will also be reduced to their simplest form: the sale of fireworks and gatherings will be prohibited.
These measures are aimed at not causing “congestion” of the hospital system when the shortage of personnel is already felt in many establishments and some intensive care services are reaching the end of their capacities.
The Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, however wanted to bring a ray of hope by reaffirming that the vaccination against Covid-19 could begin as soon as the European health authorities have given the green light. “The first doses are almost ready and can be injected directly after approval” from the EU, he tweeted.
The European health authorities must render their decision on the vaccine from the Pfizer / BioNTech companies by December 29 at the latest.
The number of new infections and deaths has reached record highs in recent days in a country that had so far remained relatively untouched by the pandemic.
” Necessary “
The threshold of 30,000 infections was approached Friday and Saturday, with 598 deaths Thursday.
Since the outbreak of the virus, 27,787 people have died in Germany.
After six weeks of closure of restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas, museums and sports grounds, Germany had to realize that these restrictions were insufficient.
“This is not the day to look back, it is the day to do what is necessary,” warned Angela Merkel.
As the end of the year holidays approach, many Germans gather in groups around mulled wine stands in all the cities of the country to the point that the Chancellor is deeply concerned this week in front of the deputies.
Result: the sale of alcohol on public roads will also be banned from Wednesday.
Many Germans are also going about their Christmas shopping, and some department stores and malls were pretty much crowded on Saturday with long lines at the front doors.
In an open letter to the Chancellor, around 30 retail players warned of the dramatic consequences of a new store closure just before Christmas.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the government would put € 11 billion per month on the table to help economic sectors hit by the restrictions.
On Sunday, the figures improved somewhat, with 20,200 new infections in 24 hours and 321 deaths, but this development is mainly due to the fact that some new cases are not listed during the weekend.