Berlin (dpa) – The call for a hard corona lockdown in the post-Christmas period is getting louder. After the National Science Academy Leopoldina, more and more politicians are calling for drastic restrictions in the fight against the high number of infections after the holidays.
In Bavaria, stricter rules will apply from next Wednesday, such as exit restrictions, alcohol bans in city centers and curfews in hotspots.
The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), advocated using the time after Christmas to largely close public life. “We need a real New Year’s closing after Christmas to develop a perspective towards more normalcy again by 2021,” he told the German news agency in Berlin.
“From Christmas to the end of the holidays in the New Year, the country can most likely close completely and thus effectively stop the spread of the pandemic,” Laschet stressed. “At the same time, we keep the damage to children’s educational opportunities and to the economy and jobs lower than at any other time of the year.”
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) can also imagine such a step. The quietest time of the year is actually the days from Christmas to the beginning of January. “And I could hardly think of a better time of the year to get further into society, to diminish contacts,” Spahn said of “Bild live”. Education Minister Anja Karliczek told the Heidelberg “Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung”: “The time around the turn of the year should be used to reduce the number of infections with effective measures.”
The German Association of Cities also considers the time after the holidays as ideal: schools and day-care centers are closed, there are company holidays, many people are on holiday “and you don’t necessarily have to go shopping after Christmas”, says CEO Helmut Dedy of the Saarbrücker Zeitung. “That’s why I’m promoting a kind of healthy shutdown from December 28th to about January 10.”
The National Science Academy Leopoldina already called on Tuesday to use the holidays and New Year for a hard lockdown in order to quickly reduce the number of infections. As a first step, according to the experts, compulsory education should be lifted from December 14th. From December 24 to at least January 10, 2021, public life across Germany should be largely inactive, with shops remaining closed except for everyday needs.
Leopoldina’s article should be taken as a “clear and final warning from science,” said virologist Christian Drosten, who contributed to the statement, in the new “Coronavirus update” at NDR-Info. Chances are that the Christmas period will lead to an increase in the number of cases. If no adjustment is made now, a lockdown “at the end of January and after all of February” threatens with enormous consequences for the economy.
In Bavaria, stricter rules will come into effect on Wednesday. Travel restrictions have been in place across the country since midnight, as in spring, albeit with many exceptions, such as for Christmas shopping or a meeting with another household. The use of alcohol in city centers and other public places is prohibited – although municipalities must indicate the exact locations.
There are also some changes in schools: from grade eight onwards there is at least a change from face-to-face and distance learning. In provinces and boroughs with more than 200 new corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants within a week, there is only distance education and there is also a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. People are then only allowed to leave their homes for a number of compelling reasons.
Other prime ministers had also spoken out for stricter measures during the holidays. Currently, only two households with a maximum of five people are allowed to meet almost everywhere in Germany. This will be temporarily relaxed between December 23 and January 1. Each federal state decides whether and how much: depending on the country, up to ten people can come together, not including children under 14.
It is unclear when the prime ministers will meet again with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to discuss possible tightening. After Merkel was tied at the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, an appointment for next Sunday was also under discussion. However, a meeting next week would still be possible.