German chancellor Angela Merkel announced, Sunday, the closure of stores, schools and day care centers, from Wednesday until 10th January, to deal with surge in coronavirus cases.
The decision was taken in consultations with the country’s 16 federal states, during a conference, where Merkel asserted that the country urgently needed to address the exponential rise in Covid-19 infections, especially in the lead up to the Christmas holidays.
“The measures which we began on November 2 have not been enough,” Merkel said in a statement after the meeting, recommending that families who are planning to meet up should isolate for a week beforehand to be safe.
“I would have wished for lighter measures. But due to Christmas shopping the number of social contacts has risen considerably,” Merkel added. “There is an urgent need to take action.”
“The health system is under heavy strain and our aim has always been to avoid an overloading of the health care system,” she mentioned.
In the same vein, DW Correspondent in Berlin Hans Brandt indicated the relevance of the speedy decision, made by the chancellor and federal leaders.
“It was somewhat surprising that they agreed so quickly. The whole meeting took just over an hour,” Brandt said. “ We have been used to these discussions between the central government and the regional leaders dragging on for hours and hours, often with acrimonious discussions.”
Brandt went on describing the shutting down of retails shops during the peak of Christmas shopping as “a very drastic measure.”
He also noted that the new rules do not resemble the harshest possible lockdown, affirming that people still have their space.
“A stricter lockdown is still conceivable since there is no rule that people have to stay at home, it’s still only an appeal.”