Germany’s stricter lockdown starts nationwide

Monitoring Desk

The country is battling to get a second coronavirus wave under control. Officials hope that stricter rules will bring infection rates and the death toll down.

Harder coronavirus lockdown restrictions came into force across all of Germany’s 16 federal states on Monday. Ten states, including the most populous, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden Württemberg, introduced the new rules as of Monday.

A number of restrictions were introduced on December 16 in a bid to curb a second COVID-19 infection wave. These were originally slated to remain in place until at least January 10 but have had only a moderate impact on caseloads. Some of the measures that were already in place have been extended, while other restrictions have been tightened.

Health Minister Jens Spahn appealed to the public to stay the course. 

“I know that these are once again particular difficulties, hardships for many,” Spahn said on ZDF television. “Also social hardships, but at the moment that is the arena in which the virus is spreading above all others.”

Infographic depicting the new measures

What are the new restrictions?

  • Private meetings will be limited to members of one household, plus one other person. Previously the limit was set at a maximum of five people from two households.
  • Anyone arriving in Germany from high-risk areas must submit two negative test results. A minimum five-day quarantine period is required between the two tests — even if the first is negative.
  • Parents receive an extra 10 days of leave to look after children. Single parents will receive an extra 20 days.
  • Residents in areas with a seven-day incidence of more than 200 cases per 100,000 people can be restricted from traveling more than 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from their home without a valid reason — although some states will enforce this rule on a discretionary basis, or merely advise people to abide by it.
A man rides a bike at an almost empty Alexanderplatz square in Berlin

What restrictions remain in place?

  • All shops and services deemed nonessential are closed. 
  • Day care centers are closed, but parents can take paid holidays in order to look after their children.
  • Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home if possible.
  • People are not allowed to drink alcohol in public.
  • Religious events in churches, synagogues and mosques may take place if they follow hygiene rules. Communal singing is banned.
  • Schools are largely closed and students are taught through distance learning.

Implemented after agreement last week

The measures come into force as Germany logged another 12,497 cases on Monday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease. The death toll rose by 343. 

The figures on Sunday and Monday are usually lower than usual as not all health offices transfer their data during the weekend.

On Friday, Germany recorded 1,188 deaths — the highest daily tally so far.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers agreed in a January 5 meeting to bring in stricter measures, lasting until at least January 31.

Several states introduced the harder restrictions early, including Hamburg on Friday, and Berlin, Thuringia and Lower Saxony on Sunday.

Authorities in Saxony, where the infection seven-day incidence is 386 per 100,000 residents, have already announced the lockdown measures will remain in place until at least February 7.

Germany has kicked off its vaccination program but authorities have come under fire for its slow rollout

Courtesy: DW