GERMANY IMPOSES PARTIAL LOCKDOWN

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced tough new measures from Monday, November 2, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus: Germany imposes partial lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s state premiers announced on Wednesday a new partial lockdown to begin on Monday, November 2.

The so-called nationwide “lockdown light” is a less intense version of the measures that brought German society and economic activity to a standstill in the spring.

Shortly after Merkel’s announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new lockdown across France.

New restrictions for the next month

  • Restaurants and bars will close, except for take-away
  • Large events will be canceled again
  • Unnecessary travel is strongly discouraged
  • Overnight stays in hotels for tourist purposes is banned
  • All those who can work from home should do so and employers should ease a transition into working from home
  • Meetings in public will be restricted to just two households of up to 10 people total.
  • Entertainment facilities such as theaters and cinemas will be closed
  • Public recreation centers such as swimming pools, gyms and saunas will be closed
  • No crowds at sports events

What is allowed

  • Schools and kindergartens will remain open
  • Church services and protests will be allowed to continue due to constitutional concerns
  • Nursing home residents will be allowed to receive visitors
  • Shops will remain open, with one customer allowed per 10 square meters (108 square feet)
  • Borders remain open

‘Serious situation’

Merkel said in a press conference: “We are in a very serious situation.”

“We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.”

She said the number of people in intensive care units has doubled in the past 10 days, and that in many areas it was no longer possible to track and trace infection chains. In 75% of cases, the source of infection is unknown.

“If infections continue at this rate, we will be at the limits of the capacities of our health system,” she said.

“That is why this is a difficult day today, also for political decision-makers, I want to say this explicitly because we know what we are putting people through,” she said.

State and federal leaders will meet again in two weeks to assess if the new measures are having enough of an effect, and recalibrate if needed.

Business support

Merkel promised that firms hit by the new measures would receive economic support. Companies with up to 50 employees and the self-employed will receive 75% of their income in support.

“We will compensate affected companies, institutions and clubs,” she said.

According to media reports, a total of €10 billion ($11.8 billion) has been earmarked for support.

Larger companies will be reliant on EU rules for assistance and this will vary from company to company.

Emergency loans will be made available for self-employed workers such as artists and stage hands, while small businesses with less than 10 employees will gain access to very cheap loans.

Public mood

Until now, Merkel’s government has enjoyed high levels of support for the measures put in place to tackle the pandemic and Germany has fared relatively well compared to many of its European neighbors.

But public mood has been shifting and criticism among the population of government-ordained measures is on the rise.

Wednesday saw Germany’s highest rate of new daily infections yet — over 14,000 — and the latest figures show that only around 25% of Germany’s intensive care beds are still available.

Germany mulls additional COVID-19 restrictions

Mounting dissatisfaction

Compared to the beginning of October, 5% more people now say that the measures currently in place do not go far enough (32% in total), according to the statistics agency Infratest. At the same time, the number of people for whom the measures go too far increased by 4% to 15% of people in total. A slim majority (51%) feel that the current measures are sufficient, but this number is 8% less than at the start of October.

Some of those who vehemently oppose further restrictions are fearful of the economic impact. Many Berlin restaurant owners, for example, have said they would probably have to close down their business if faced with a second lockdown. They have already seen losses after the closure in the spring, followed by rules that forced them to adhere to social distancing regulations and then the curfew imposed last month.

Several news outlets also reported that financing the new measures would push the amount of debt Germany was in for 2021 well over €100 billion ($117 billion). Finance Minister Olaf Scholz had planned a sum of €96 billion to help businesses ride out the pandemic next year, but the new aid package could cost €10 billion more.

The opposition pro-business liberal Free Democrats have spoken out against another shutdown of the hospitality sector. “I believe it is unnecessary and unconstitutional,” party leader Christian Lindner wrote on Twitter before Wednesday’s meeting.

SOURCE- DW NEWS

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