Germany poised to extend ‘lockdown lite’ up until Christmas

Plan is to slow spread of Covid enough to enable family gatherings over festive season

Christmas stalls and a shoe store advertising sales during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty

Christmas stalls and a shoe store advertising sales during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty

 

Germany is heading towards an extension of its “lockdown lite” for another three weeks to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and make family gatherings over Christmas possible, state premiers of the two governing parties said on Monday.

Germany closed bars, restaurants and entertainment venues on November 2nd for a month. Schools and shops remain open while private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households.

Infection numbers have plateaued since then, but not declined.

Saxony-Anhalt state premier Reiner Haseloff, a member of chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told a news conference there was a general agreement that current restrictions should be extended for about three weeks.

His conservative Hesse counterpart Volker Bouffier said he expected measures to remain in place until about December 20th.

Risk areas

The premier of the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig from the co-governing Social Democrats, told Deutschlandfunk (DLF) radio that “many states believe the November shutdown must continue, especially in the risk areas”.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 10,864 to 929,133 over the past 24 hours, 40 more than the corresponding rise from the previous Sunday, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

State premiers and Dr Merkel will discuss the measures as well as rules for the Christmas and new year holidays on Wednesday.

The new restrictions are likely to halve the number of people allowed at private gatherings to five, draft resolutions from both parties said.

Both drafts include proposals to allow the loosening of restrictions in states where infection rates decrease significantly.

Financial support for businesses could be extended into December, economy minister Peter Altmaier was quoted as saying on DLF.