Berlin (dpa) – Given the sharp increase in the number of corona infections, the lockdown in Germany will be extended until April 18.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime ministers of the federal states have decided on this during their deliberations on the further fight against the pandemic, the German news agency learned from various sources. The strict contact rules should not be relaxed for visiting relatives at Easter. A final decision on future measures was still pending.
After federal and state governments only started an easing course at the beginning of March, the signals now point to a worsening again after the massive increase in the number of infections. The “emergency brake” for relaxation measures already taken, such as opening shops, museums and sports facilities, will remain. It applies to regions where the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants exceeds 100 within seven days. This is now the case for large parts of Germany – but there is often no action yet. The average for the entire country has been above 100 since Sunday.
A motion for a resolution sent by the Chancellery shortly before the deliberations provided for a slight relaxation of the contact rules for visits to relatives at Easter, which was then collected again. The newspaper also suggested closing schools and daycare centers or not opening them at all unless teachers, teachers and students or supervised children could be tested twice a week. From 200 incidents, schools and day-care centers could also be closed, although this would happen “a few days in advance”, “so that families can get used to it”. This passage was still in square brackets, meaning that there was no consensus on it yet.
In the early evening it was also unclear what would become of the Easter holidays at home and abroad. “Federal and state governments continue to urge all citizens to refrain from travel that is not absolutely necessary in Germany and abroad,” said the motion for a resolution. “The emergence of several Covid-19 variants and their worldwide distribution have shown that cross-border travel should be kept to the bare minimum.”
Nevertheless, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Palatinate in particular argue in favor of enabling ‘contactless holidays’ – that is, holidays in holiday apartments or houses, apartments or mobile homes, provided they have their own sanitary facilities and holidaymakers can also get food there. There was initially no decision to do that.
It also remained unclear whether there will be new requirements for holidaymakers in Mallorca. A week ago, the federal government removed the Germans’ favorite island from the list of risk areas and lifted the travel warning due to the sharp drop in the number of infections. This also means that there is no longer any obligation for returnees to test or quarantine. This has led to a booking boom, as well as heated discussions about whether you risk a new source of infection. That is why during the consultation a plea was made for reintroduction of the testing obligation and also for reintroduction of quarantine.
Regarding the situation in the elderly and care institutions, the decision stated that there was now “the expectation of a normalization of the long-standing tense situation” after residents and employees had been given priority vaccinations. Because it is still uncertain to what extent vaccination precludes the possibility of vaccinated people infecting others, hygiene and testing concepts must be consistently implemented. At the same time, two weeks after the second vaccination, the options to visit facilities without a corona outbreak could be expanded again and general group offers could be made again. Both unvaccinated and new residents should receive a vaccination offer quickly.
Only at one point did the draft resolution offer vague prospects of relaxation. As part of temporary pilot projects in selected low-incidence regions, the federal states were able to test how individual domains of public life could be reopened under strict conditions and with a test concept.
Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer had no hope of further relaxation before the deliberations. “Within two weeks, the number of infected Saxons doubled. As bitter as it may be, we have to slow down this development, ”the CDU politician said on Facebook on Monday. The Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff (CDU), opposed general nighttime exit restrictions. “There will be no general curfew with the prime minister,” said a government spokesman.