Germany announces new tougher restrictions for coronavirus hotspots
After many hours of negotiations, the German chancellor and the leaders of the 16 federal states have agreed to a number of new nationwide coronavirus restrictions - but decisions on other, more controversial measures have been put off for a later date. Here’s an overview of what was said at the press conference on Wednesday evening.
German states agree to new, uniform coronavirus restrictions
It was a struggle, but Angela Merkel and the state premiers have once again agreed to a uniform approach. After a gruelling eight hours of deliberations at the coronavirus summit on Wednesday, Angela Merkel, Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller and Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder presented a new batch of tougher coronavirus restrictions.
The new measures will primarily focus on so-called “coronavirus hotspots”. Merkel and the state premiers agreed to uniform rules for cities and regions registering high numbers of coronavirus infections, including an expansion of the mask requirement, limits on numbers of guests at private celebrations, contact restrictions in public places and a curfew for the catering trade.
Here’s what has been agreed to:
In cities and regions with rapidly increasing coronavirus infections, the mask requirement will be expanded. This means that anywhere where the number of new infections exceeds 35 per 100.000 inhabitants within the space of seven days, a mask requirement will apply wherever people come into close proximity for extended periods of time.
A batch of tougher restrictions will also apply to regions where the number of new cases exceeds 50 per 100.000 residents within seven days. Currently, there are 51 regions across the country that fall under this category.
In these areas, private celebrations such as parties will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants or the members of two households.
If the number of new infections exceeds the 50 value, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed to meet in public spaces - and if this measure does not halt the rise in cases, this will be reduced to up to five people or the members of two households.
Curfew for restaurants; bars and clubs closed
A new curfew will also be imposed on regions that exceed this 50 threshold. Wherever this occurs, an 11 pm curfew will be imposed on the catering trade. Bars and clubs will be forced to close.
Internal travel restrictions and accommodation bans
However, the state leaders did not reach a decision on the controversial internal travel restrictions and bans on overnight stays imposed by some states on those travelling from risk areas within Germany. They have postponed discussions until November 8, after the end of the autumn school holidays.
“We are in a serious phase of the pandemic”
Introducing the new measures, Merkel said, “We are in a serious phase of the pandemic.” Pointing to the rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Germany, she appealed to everyone, in this “decisive and critical phase”, to join in and follow the rules. “We don’t have to surrender to the virus somehow, we can fight the virus,” she said.
Merkel, Söder and Müller all emphasised the fact that tougher restrictions could follow, if people do not play their part and help to bring the virus under control. “We are much closer to the second lockdown than we want to admit,” warned Söder.
Indeed, Merkel expressed her dissatisfaction with the agreed-upon measures, saying that they “were not enough to avert the disaster” and that the state leaders would be back in the same place within two weeks, discussing new measures. “It’s just not enough what we’re doing here,” she said.