Spurred on by Chancellor Angela Merkel to come up with a “cohesive, collective answer” on how Germany should try to get the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in check, state premiers are working on new proposals for the period from December 1.
After being rebuffed last week in her bid to intensify some aspects of Germany’s lockdown, Merkel has put the onus back on regional leaders to come up with a concept on which they can all agree. They are set to present their finalized proposal to the chancellor on Wednesday.
Judging by the early information, the states are planning to tighten the screws in general — a response to Friday’s record daily tally of 23,648 new cases. However, regional leaders are also dangling a few carrots alongside their lockdown stick: regions with lower caseloads should be able to ease restrictions by themselves, and moratoriums are being considered for Christmas and possibly New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Here are some of the highlights from a draft proposal that was circulating on Monday.
In the broadest strokes, the restrictions imposed this November are set for an extension for at least three weeks, until December 20.
Hotels, restaurants, and gyms will remain closed. People should stay at home as much as possible, avoiding unnecessary travel and contact.
To apply from December 21 to at least December 27
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“We must extend the lockdown,” Bavarian state premier Markus Söder wrote on Twitter. “Sadly the numbers are still too high. If we stop the treatment too early, we risk a severe deterioration. Then everything starts again from scratch. Better a longer lockdown now than a total one at Christmas.”
However, states with lower caseloads will probably be allowed to choose to lift their restrictions even if the country as a whole could not.
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“States that are not risk areas, if they are visibly able to get below 50 cases [per 100,000 residents per week] in a stable and sustained way, must then have the opportunity to ease restrictions,” Manuela Schwesig, the Social Democrat state premier of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday.
Schwesig said that her own state’s rate, currently hovering around 46 cases per 100,000 for the previous week, would not yet qualify in her mind to ease restrictions as it was so close to the threshold. She said a number nearer 35 might be appropriate.
Even the state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, Rainer Haseloff, who has been particularly critical of lockdown restrictions, said on Monday everybody recognized “the fundamental requirement” of extending the restrictions.