Berlin (dpa) – People in Germany need to get used to a tightening up of the partial lockdown in the corona pandemic – but can hope it diminishes by Christmas.
Before the talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and state prime ministers on Tuesday afternoon, it became clear that restrictions on personal contacts and other areas would be tightened again in order to control the infection until the holidays. . Currently relatively stable at a high level, the number of reported corona deaths within 24 hours rose to a high of 410.
Merkel and the country leaders wanted to connect to a video conference in the early afternoon (starting at 2 p.m.) and then inform them of the results. On Thursday, the Chancellor also wants to speak in the Bundestag about how to proceed in the Corona crisis.
It was clear in advance that a little more face-to-face meetings should be allowed on Christmas days than now. To what extent such a relaxation will apply on New Year’s Eve is still the question. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) spoke out in favor of strict contact restrictions, including on New Year’s Eve – unlike most countries that aim for it. “Because Christmas is the family celebration, New Year’s Eve is of course more the celebration of friends,” he said in the ARD “morning magazine”. He would rather be more consistent at the turn of the year than at Christmas.
It’s also unclear whether restaurants and hotels will be allowed to reopen during the holidays and New Year’s Eve, as well as other details. The states agreed on a line beforehand, and the federal government added its own ideas. In the morning, the prime ministers met for a preparatory meeting.
There is no doubt that contact restrictions will be tightened from December. However, there will be a relaxation from December 23 to January 1. According to the Robert Koch Institute, 18,633 new corona infections had been reported within 24 hours on Wednesday, more than 1,000 cases more than a week ago, according to information from the RKI Wednesday morning.
The partial lockdown worked “about half as much as we expected,” said SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach in the ARD morning magazine. The cause is, for example, sources of contamination in schools.
In the meantime, the planned distribution of cheap FFP-2 protection masks to people from risk groups is becoming more concrete: the Federal Joint Committee of the Health System has drawn up a definition of the groups at risk for serious and fatal courses. In total it should be 27.35 million people, according to the statement received by the DPA. This includes 23.7 million people over the age of 60, people with previous illnesses, high-risk pregnancies, or overweight. The advice should now form the basis for a regulation.
The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), again campaigned to keep the schools open – which is also planned: “The kitchen table at home in a two or three-room apartment is no better place to learn. The best place to learn is at school, ”he said in the state parliament. Today is not about opening steps, the risk of relapse is too great, he explained to the deliberations.
The main measures, on which the federal and state governments largely agree:
PART-LOCKDOWN: The closure of bars, restaurants, cultural and recreational facilities must be extended until at least December 20th. All unnecessary contacts and trips should be avoided. Wholesaling and retailing remain open, but the mask obligation should now also apply to shops and in parking lots. If the incidence is “well” below 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days and if other conditions are met, countries should be able to deviate from this.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Support in November for companies and institutions affected by the partial closure will continue in December. The federal government is planning a financial aid of an expected 17 billion euros, the dpa heard from government circles.
CONTACT RESTRICTIONS: Contact restrictions need to be tightened. Private gatherings with friends, family and acquaintances are therefore limited to your own household and another household and in any case to five people, with the exception of children up to 14 years of age.
CONTACT RULES FOR CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS: From December 23 to January 1, household gatherings with non-household relatives or people outside the household of up to ten people must be allowed. Children up to 14 years of age are not included.
FIREWORKS: New Year’s Eve fireworks are prohibited on busy squares and streets to avoid larger crowds. The local authorities must determine the places and streets affected. In principle it is “recommended” to avoid fireworks at the turn of the year.
COMPANY HOLIDAY: Employers should check whether production facilities can close due to corporate holidays or generous home office solutions from December 23 to January 1.
SCHOOLS AND KITAS: Daycare and schools must remain open. However, in regions with significantly more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days, in the future, mask requirements will also apply in the classroom from grade 7 onwards. It should be possible to introduce such an obligation for primary, fifth and sixth grades.
PROTECTION OF RISK GROUPS AND FAST TESTS: The protection of risk groups must be improved. For people in need of care in institutions, there are 30 rapid tests per month from 1 December. Depending on availability it will be even more.
Further ideas from the federal government:
STORES: According to the Chancellery, there can be a maximum of one customer per 25 square meters of sales area in stores – so far it is one customer per 10 square meters.
RAIL TRANSPORT: To make travel safer, the number of occupied seats on trains must be significantly reduced. In principle, only all window seats may be reserved for the winter months. At the same time, the capacity of the trains must be increased. At the moment there is no obligation to make a reservation on the train.
TESTS: In the case of cold symptoms before Christmas, a more generous testing option should be offered, according to the federal government.
FDP chief Christian Lindner warned of new restrictions on retail. Access to shops should not be further restricted, he told the Dpa on Wednesday, the Chancellery’s proposal was “excessive”. For people with a health risk, exclusive time slots in shops and taxi vouchers also make sense, so that they do not have to use local public transport.
The leader of the Greens’ Group in the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, called for long-term and nationwide uniform corona rules, depending on the infection rate. The debates between the countries in recent weeks have led to uncertainty among the population. “You lose the overview and you lose your nerves”, she said in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”.