Berlin to tighten lockdown before Christmas: Shops and schools closed
The governing mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, has announced that coronavirus restrictions will be significantly tightened in Germany’s capital city in the run-up to Christmas, with retail and schools forced to close. When exactly the new regulations will come into force is yet to be decided.
Berlin mayor plans significant restrictions until January 10
Berlin is planning significant restrictions for retailers and schools to curb the spread of COVID-19. This was announced by governing mayor Michael Müller on Thursday during a speech in the house of Representatives. “We’re going to have to shut down retail,” he said. “Beyond the food retail trade, all other shopping outlets must be closed until January 10, there’s no other way.”
Exactly when the new restrictions will apply from has yet to be determined, but two likely dates are December 20 or December 24. Müller said it still needed to be agreed with neighbouring Brandenburg. In any case, having seen for himself stores packed with Christmas shoppers at the beginning of December, he said he could not imagine that shops would be open the fourth Sunday of Advent.
The new regulations will also affect schools across the city-state: “There are an incredible number of contacts through school events,” said Müller. “And we have to avoid contacts… For this reason, I have come to the conclusion that we have to extend our school holidays until January 10, or as a variant let the holidays end on January 4, but then resume digital teaching.”
Rumblings of a post-Christmas hard lockdown across Germany
The Senate intends to pass resolutions in its session next Tuesday. It is widely expected that Müller’s coalition partners in the Left and Greens will support the new restrictions. According to the Tagesspiegel, Green Party leader Silke Gebel said: “Let’s sit out the virus at home in Berlin for 14 days.” She also spoke in favour of reducing Christmas trips to an absolute minimum.
The decision in Berlin is yet another signal that it may come to a new, hard lockdown in Germany after Christmas; Bavaria and Saxony currently already have lockdowns in place; and discussions are underway in almost every other federal state to either limit the easing of restrictions over Christmas, or tighten them even further.