Coronavirus summit: German government pushes for masks and curfews
With coronavirus cases surging across the country, Angela Merkel will today meet with the heads of the 16 federal states to discuss tougher nationwide restrictions. According to a draft policy paper, the German chancellor wants to introduce additional mask requirements and a curfew for restaurants in coronavirus hotspots.
Germany gears up for tougher coronavirus restrictions
The proposed measures, which will be discussed with the leaders of the federal states at a summit later on Wednesday, would impose new restrictions in any area where the number of new infections exceeds 35 per 100.000 inhabitants within a week. Previously, the yardstick used to determine whether a region was a “risk area” was 50 new infections per 100.000 inhabitants.
According to the draft document, these tighter restrictions would include a mask requirement “wherever people come together in close proximity or for longer periods of time”, as well as a curfew for gastronomy businesses. Bars and clubs would also be forced to close.
Private gatherings to be limited in coronavirus hotspots
The proposal further takes aim at private gatherings, which it considers to be one of the main sources of infection. It appeals to everyone to “critically weigh up in each case, whether, how and to what extent private parties are necessary and justifiable given the virus situation” - and advocates limiting the number of participants at private gatherings in areas where the crucial 35 infections per 100.000 inhabitants threshold has been exceeded.
The controversial internal travel restrictions introduced by some states like Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate are not mentioned in the draft. However, citizens are “urgently” advised to avoid unnecessary travel in and out of risk areas. The government also pledges financial aid to businesses who are suffering due to the restrictions.
The draft document will form the basis for discussions between the federal government and the heads of state on Wednesday afternoon, as they attempt to thrash out a roadmap for more uniform restrictions across the country. Merkel has repeatedly made it clear that the government wants to prevent, at all costs, another shutdown of social and economic life - but as the new number of cases in Germany surpassed 5.000 on Wednesday morning, she warned that new restrictions might become unavoidable.