“We still have to make efforts (…) the number of daily infections is still at a much too high level“, said the Chancellor after more than seven hours of discussions with the leaders of the 16 German regional states.
The restrictions decided at a previous meeting in November will therefore continue to apply “until early January, unless we have an unexpected decrease in infection rate but that is unlikely at this point“, explained Ms. Merkel.
The infection rate in Germany thus reached 139.6 per 100,000 inhabitants on Wednesday and 195.3 per 100,000 in the capital, Berlin, far from the target of 50 / 100,000.
Limited offer. 2 months for 1 € without commitment
Germany had 961,320 officially declared cases of Covid-19 (+18,633 in 24 hours) and 14,771 deaths (+410, new record) on Wednesday, according to the Robert Koch health watch institute. The symbolic mark of one million cases should be crossed in the next few days.
Bars, restaurants, cultural venues and sports clubs should therefore remain closed for more than a month.
Access to stores will also be restricted, with a limited number of customers depending on their size.
The only easing granted by the German leaders: private meetings can reach 10 people from December 23 to January 1, children under 14 not included. Outside of this period, private meetings are limited to five people.
Firecrackers and fireworks, very popular with Germans at Christmas time, will be banned in the busiest squares and streets.
The schools will remain open until the holidays, on December 19, also provides for the text negotiated by the Chancellor and the 16 Länder and sent to the press.
Finally, Merkel urged the Germans not to go abroad during the Christmas holidays, in particular for ski holidays.
The federal government and the regions will therefore ask the European Union to ban ski stays until January 10 to prevent the spread of the virus.
Bavaria, very popular with German skiers, had anticipated this warning by announcing Tuesday the closure of its stations at Christmas.
But neighboring Austria is on another line and plans to open its tracks.
Austria is still considered by Germany as a risk territory where the virus is actively circulating. One of its busiest stations, Ischgl, had also been a major source of contamination last winter, infecting tourists from several European countries.
Asked about the approach that Germany will take to the EU, the Chancellor admitted, however, that it was not won.
“I’ll be honest with you, it probably won’t be easy, but we’ll try“, she launched at a press conference.
Lbest of all worlds