Germany will extend the partial quarantine until 20 December and introduce stricter measures. This will allow fewer people to come together and will increase the duty of mouthpiece. Schools will stay open. The number of new infections has increased again in the last 24 hours.
On Wednesday, Chancellor Merkel and the prime ministers of the Länder decided that the partial lockdown, which entered into force on 2 november, would remain in force until 20 december. This means that catering, theatres, cinemas and leisure parks remain closed. According to Chancellor Merkel, if the number of infections does not continue to fall – and unfortunately it does not look like it – the lockdown can be extended again after 20 december.
“The exponential growth in the number of infections has broken,” Merkel said on Wednesday evening at a press conference following the meeting, which had lasted more than seven hours. However, this diffusion is not enough, she said, the number of infections is still high, and on Wednesday died of 410 people, COVID-a 19-a record number. The chancellor once again urged people to limit contacts as much as possible and to make only necessary trips.
“We need another effort. Patience, solidarity and discipline are once again being put to the test.”
A number of corona measures are being tightened up. For example, people were allowed to come together with only two households, but the maximum number of people was reduced from ten to five. Children under 14 do not count in that number. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, from December 23 to January 1, ten people can come together. The Christmas holidays start in almost all the Länder earlier, on 19 December, so that people have fewer contacts before Christmas and the risk is less that they infect others at Christmas.
The duty of monoculture no longer applies only in shops and public transport, but in all the inner cities where people come together, even outside. At work, people also have to wear mouth caps, unless they can keep a distance of five feet. The number of people allowed to be in a shop at the same time is further reduced.
In trains, the number of places that can be reserved is limited to ensure more distance between passengers. However, more trains are planned to run so that more places are available. There will be no reservation.
Schools stay open. If a student is tested positive for corona, the entire class will be quarantined for five days. Then they can do a quick test. If you test negative, you can go back to school. Tested positive pupils must be re-tested every three days until the test is negative. There will be no obligation to introduce a mix of school and distance learning for higher classes. That needs to be determined locally. A school-leaving requirement will apply to regions with’clearly more’ than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants per seven days. But in the majority of the Länder, there is already a duty to mouthpiece at school, in Bavaria even in primary schools.
Colleges and universities must provide digital education, except in the case of laboratory work and practice.
The aim is to introduce additional restrictions in regions where there are more than 200 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. According to Merkel, this is now Berlin and 62 other regions in Germany. There can be stricter rules for schools and the retail trade and more far-reaching contact restrictions.
Financial assistance for companies, associations and other organisations affected by the lockdown, the so-called EUR 10 billion for November aid, will be extended in December.
The federal government and the Länder are calling on people not to set off fireworks with New Years. There will be no general ban on fireworks, but it will be forbidden to set off fireworks in large squares and busy streets to prevent many people from coming together. It is up to municipalities to determine which squares and streets they are.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German RIVM, reports new infections on Thursday 22,268. That’s 3,600 more than Wednesday. The number of deaths has risen by 389 in the last 24 hours to 15,160. The total number of people infected with the coronavirus in Germany is now 983,588.
It is no secret that Merkel would have wanted stricter measures, for example in schools. But most Länder did not want to. In last week’s consultation, the rules for schools were therefore postponed to this week. After Merkel’s government statement on the new measures in the Bundestag on Thursday, there was criticism from various sides. Both CDU and Green politicians wondered whether the new rules were strict enough. Several members of the Bundestag, including the FDP and Die Linke, are also missing a longer-term strategy.
Schools and teacher organisations had hoped for more stringent measures such as a mandatory masks from the fifth grade of Primary school and high prevalence rates for all primary school children. Doctors fear the consequences of relaxing with old and new, when groups of people come together and drink alcohol. This leads to an increase in the number of infections in January, they warn.
“What is possible at Christmas should not apply to old and new,” said the chairman of the Association of doctors Marburger Bund.
The retail trade believes that the reduction in the number of people allowed to be in a shop at the same time for particularly larger items is ‘nonsensical’. This could lead to queues for shops, warns the HDE Trade Association.