Germany Tightens Restrictions, Extends Lockdown over Easter

Health | March 23, 2021, Tuesday // 09:38|  views

Germany extended its lockdown measures by another month and imposed several new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter, news wires reported. The restrictions previously set to run through 28 March will now remain in place until 18 April.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the measures early Tuesday after a lengthy video call with the country’s 16 state governors, nearly three weeks after the two sides last agreed on a plan paving the way to relax some rules. Since then, infections have increased steadily as the more contagious variant first detected in Britain has become dominant. The weekly infection rate per 100,000 people stood at 107 nationwide on Monday, up from the mid-60s three weeks ago.

“Unfortunately, we will have to make use of this emergency brake,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

Leaders agreed that public and private life are to come to a virtual standstill over the long Easter holiday weekend from 1 to 5 April. Shops are to remain closed throughout, except for grocery stores and supermarkets which will be allowed to be open on Saturday 3 April.

People are urged to stay home throughout those five days, leaders said in a statement.

Public gatherings are generally banned during that time, but Covid-19 testing and vaccination centres will remain open.

Easter services are largely to be held virtually, and private gatherings limited to five people from two households, not counting children up to the age of 14.

It was also agreed that once a seven-day incidence of more than 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants is registered, local government districts must further tighten lockdown measures.

This would include some curfews, stricter contact restrictions or the obligation for people to get daily quick Covid-19 tests in areas where social distancing or consistent mask-wearing are difficult to keep up.

Most shops in Germany have been closed since 16 December. Restaurants, bars and leisure facilities have been closed since early November. The country has moved ahead with the first reopenings this month, with hairdressers, florists and hardware stores permitted to unlock their doors in some areas.

Amid concern over the rise in Germans traveling abroad on holidays, authorities also agreed on a blanket requirement for air travelers to be tested for COVID-19 before boarding a flight to Germany.

According to Tuesday’s agreement, authorities will aim to offer free tests to all students and teachers in German schools, many of which have only recently reopened after months of remote teaching.

The country’s vaccination campaign has lagged far behind expectations, with only about 9% of the population receiving at least a first shot and 4% receiving both doses by Sunday.



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Tags: Germany, lockdown, Easter


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