Germany braces for extension of lockdown month into December

Frankfurt, November 22

Germany will have to extend its current measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic into December, top politicians were quoted as saying on Sunday.

Germany imposed a month-long “lockdown lite” from November 2 to rein in a second wave of the virus that is sweeping much of Europe but infection numbers have not declined.

“Everything points to the fact that the current restrictions must be extended for some time beyond November 30,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told weekly Bild am Sonntag (BamS).

Bars and restaurants are closed but schools and shops remain open. Private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households.

The leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Soeder, told BamS that ideally measures would be extended by three weeks, which would imply December 20 as an end-date.

“The wave has been broken, but unfortunately the number of new infections is not coming down. Instead, intensive care units continue to be swamped and the death toll rises,” Soeder said, adding: “Therefore, we cannot give the all-clear.”

He said cinemas, bars and hotels would need to remain closed, adding there should be a ban on fireworks and alcohol on New Year’s Eve on large public squares.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with state leaders on November 25 to discuss whether to impose further restrictions or extend the current ones into December.

Scholz said financial support for affected enterprises would have to continue if there is an agreement to extend restrictions but added continuing compensating for 75 per cent of lost revenue would be a challenge under European competition laws.

“But it’s about safeguarding livelihoods, so we must act in a pragmatic, unbureaucratic and smart way,” he said.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 15,741 to 9,18,269, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. Reuters

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