Germany’s Angela Merkel urges avoiding pointless social contacts – Thebritishjournal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on residents to avoid all unnecessary social contacts in a speech to the Bundestag on Thursday.

She said current lockdown measures had enjoyed some success, but more was needed to avoid the health system being overwhelmed.

“It is inconceivable where we would be today if we had not been willing and able to make this national effort four weeks ago, when it was literally 5 to 12,” she said.

The restrictions in force since 2 November have prevented the worst from happening — overhwhelming the health system, she said.

“This is an initial success, but it is not yet a sustainable success,” she said. The “urgently needed trend reversal” in infection rates has not yet been achieved.

“Our goal is and remains to reduce the number of infections to such an extent that the health authorities are once again able to recognise and interrupt infection chains,” Merkel stressed.

She said this would be achieved if the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants fell below 50 within seven days. In most regions of Germany, the figure is currently significantly higher.

Merkel’s comments came after new restrictions were agreed during a seven-hour meeting with Germany’s 16 state premiers.

What did Merkel say?

  • Since November restrictions, people have reduced their contacts by 40% 
  • Underscored the need for further restrictions. “If we were to wait until intensive care units are fully occupied, it would be too late.”
  • The current lockdown has stopped the exponential growth of cases, but they still remain “far too high”
  • Restrictions will probably remain in place until January
  • Extra restrictions could be implemented in serious hotspots
  • Impossible to provide special treatment for the 27 million people deemed vulnerable
  • Urged people show restraint over Christmas holidays
  • The Christmas amnesty is not guaranteed
  • Germany wants to agree on a ban on ski holidays across the EU, but Austria is holding out
  • Non-medical masks are not 100% effective. Masks plus social distancing are the best way to tackle things
  • It is important that the federal government spends billions of euros to mitigate the economic consequences and help affected businesses and people 
  • Vaccines may arrive before Christmas

What are the coronavirus measures?

  • The current partial lockdown will be extended until at least December 20, and will probably be extended into January
  • Mandatory mask-wearing has been expanded in schools
  • Private gatherings are now limited to five people from two households, with children aged 14 exempted from the count
  • The start of school holidays is expected to be brought forward to December 16
  • Travel for holidays, particularly ski vacations, is strongly discouraged until at least January 10
  • Bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and concert halls, cosmetic studios, massage practices, tattoo studios remain closed
  • Masks must be worn in all publicly accessible indoor spaces, as well as in front of retail shops and in parking lots, and public transport
  • Overnight accommodation is only allowed for non-tourist purposes
  • Train reservations have been limited to control numbers onboard
  • The mandatory quarantine period has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days
  • Professional sports events may only take place without spectators
  • Individual sports as well as sports for two people or with members of your own household remain permitted

What is the Christmas amnesty?

If things go well, the rules will relaxed slightly between December 23 to January 1 for the celebration of Christmas. Up to 10 people are to be allowed to meet, with children aged 14 and under exempt from the limit. 

Restaurants and bars will still be required to stay closed over the holiday period. People are urged to voluntarily self-isolate before and after holiday gatherings. 

Employers should show flexibility and allow people to stay at home to work over this period. Public firework displays will be banned in busy squares and streets.

The amnesty is guaranteed.

How bad is the pandemic in Germany?

Germany on Wednesday recorded its highest 24-hour death rate, with 410 people succumbing to the coronavirus. 

Roughly 20,000 new infections are being recorded each day in Germany, with 22,000 recorded on Thursday.

The infection rate had been accelerating before the November lockdown, and total cases are approaching one million.

Coronavirus: Germany’s Angela Merkel urges avoiding unnecessary social contacts The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.

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