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Germany tightens Covid-19 lockdown measures over Christmas

Germany recorded 20,200 newly confirmed cases and 321 additional deaths today.

Angela Merkel before a press conference today in Germany.
Angela Merkel before a press conference today in Germany.
Image: Bernd von Jutrczenka

GERMANY WILL CLOSE most shops and schools, and further limit social contacts in an effort to drive down the rate of Covid-19 infections that have remained stubbornly high in recent weeks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states had agreed to step up the country’s lockdown measures from December 16 to January 10 to stop the exponential rise of Covid-19 cases.

“We are forced to act, and we’re acting too,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

Existing restrictions imposed in November failed to significantly reduce the number of new infections, she said.

Companies are also urged to allow employees to work from home or offer extended company holidays under the new measures.

“That would help to implement the principle ‘we’re staying at home’,” according to the policy paper agreed by Merkel and state premiers.

Germany recorded 20,200 newly confirmed cases and 321 additional deaths today, a high number for the weekend when many local authorities do not report figures.

With the exception of Christmas, the number of people allowed to meet indoors will remain restricted to five, not including children under 14.

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The sale of fireworks traditionally used to celebrate New Year will be banned, as will the outdoor sale of alcohol.

“Today is not the day to look back or to see what could have been, rather, today is the day to do what is necessary,” said Merkel, pointing to “very high numbers of deaths” and stressing the urgent need for action.

With reporting by AFP

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