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Germany implements tough new lockdown measures

Germany implements tough new lockdown measures

Germany implements tough new lockdown measures

After weeks of speculation over whether Germany would ease or tighten coronavirus measures over the Christmas period, tough new coronavirus restrictions have been announced which will see shops and schools close, as well as strict rules concerning meeting family and friends at Christmas.

New lockdown restrictions announced

On Sunday morning, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of Germany’s 16 federal states met to discuss Germany’s worsening coronavirus situation. New lockdown measures were agreed, which will be enforced from Wednesday, December 16 until at least January 10.

According to the new rules, shops and schools are to be closed and there will be a ban on drinking alcohol in public and the sale of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. The current restrictions will also continue to be enforced. The states are free to implement even stricter measures depending on the coronavirus situation in their state, with Bavaria poised to implement a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.

Christmas rules

The new lockdown rules will limit private gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, to a maximum of 5 people from two households. From December 24 to December 26, individual states can choose to relax this rule and allow a household to have four people, who belong to the “immediate family circle”, to join them. Those in the “immediate family circle” include spouses and partners as well as siblings and their respective households. The guests can come from more than two different households and children under the age of 14 are not included in the limit.

In regard to the new Christmas regulations, Angela Merkel has asked people to keep outside contact to an absolute minimum for the five to seven days before any family gatherings.

Shops, services and schools to close

Angela Merkel and the state leaders also agreed that all non-essential shops and services will be closed. This includes hairdressers, beauty salons and tattoo parlours. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, as will other essential services such as banks, petrol stations, post offices and laundrettes. Christmas tree markets will also be allowed to stay open.

Angela Merkel has also asked companies to grant holidays to those who are meant to be working over the lockdown period, or at least offer people the opportunity to work from home, however, this is not mandatory under the new regulations. The government will also extend its financial support for affected businesses and those who are self-employed. It is expected that Germany will spend around 11 billion euros a month supporting expected businesses.

Despite previous opposition from the majority of the federal states, schools and kitas will close from Wednesday too. Schools can choose to offer online lessons and emergency care is to be provided for those who need it.

Bans on alcohol and fireworks

A ban on the sale of fireworks is also to be implemented under the new restrictions, however, it is not prohibited to set off fireworks although people have been asked not to do so. Local authorities will also be allowed to ban fireworks from being used in certain public places. A nationwide ban on gatherings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will also be in force this year.

The consumption of alcohol in public places has also been prohibited after concerns were raised over people gathering to drink, especially near Glühwein stands.

Other regulations

Travel over the festive period has not been banned, although authorities have appealed to the public to abstain from non-essential domestic travel and travelling internationally. Anyone who arrives in Germany from a “risk area” will still have to quarantine for 10 days, unless they test negative for the virus, after which the quarantine period can be cut down to 5 days.

Church services will be allowed to go ahead, however, face masks must be worn, and singing is not allowed. Protective measures will also be increased in care homes to help stop the virus from spreading amongst the elderly.

Current restrictions extended

Germany’s current coronavirus restrictions, which have seen restaurants, bars, cafes, museums and leisure facilities close, will be extended until January 10. Restaurants will still be able to offer takeaway services.

“There is an urgent need to take action,” said Chancellor Merkel after Sunday’s meeting. “I would have wished for lighter measures. But due to Christmas shopping, the number of social contacts has risen considerably.”

William Nehra

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William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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