Coronavirus ‘out of control’ in Germany, minister warns

Hard lockdown from Wednesday means all schools and shops must shut for six weeks

Kate Ng
Monday 14 December 2020 15:20
Comments
<p>Tighter measures will be introduced this week</p>

Tighter measures will be introduced this week

The coronavirus outbreak has spiralled “out of control” in Germany after an “exponential growth” in the number of infections and deaths in recent days, the economy minister has warned.

Peter Altmaier said that “less intrusive” measures were not enough as the country braces itself for a hard lockdown from Wednesday, which will mean all schools and shops closing for six weeks.

Germany recorded a further 16,362 positive Covid-19 cases – 4,000 more than the week before – and 188 new deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 1.34 million, with 21,975 fatalities from the virus.

Mr Altmaier also warned that the number of intensive care patients needing treatment would exceed hospital capacity within weeks without harsher lockdown measures.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of the country’s 16 states agreed on Sunday to tighten lockdown measures from Wednesday until 10 January, as she said existing restrictions imposed last month had failed to significantly reduce the infection rate.

Just weeks ago, restaurants, bars, theatres and gyms stayed shut but schools and shops were allowed to stay open. However, cases began to surge again as people met friends and family more often.

The German government called on citizens to forgo Christmas shopping in the next two days to stop the figures from rising further.

Mr Altmaier said: “I wish and I hope that people will only buy what they really need, like groceries. The faster we get these infections under control, the better it is for everyone.”

Markus Söder, prime minister of Bavaria, also said the virus had “got out of control” after his meeting with Ms Merkel, adding: “We are at five minutes to midnight.”

Ms Merkel acknowledged that the new restrictions would affect Christmas celebrations, but said there was “an urgent need for action” to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.

From Wednesday, no more than five people will be allowed to meet indoors, not including children under 14. However, this will be slightly relaxed between 24 and 26 December to allow families to spend Christmas together.

The German Hospital Federation welcomed the new measures, but added that it was difficult to understand why the regulatory European Medicines Agency had not yet approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate.

“If there is a further delay, the federal government must check whether a national emergency licence is not necessary,” said the organisation. “It is also imperative that all employees in clinics are included in the first prioritisation group.”

The agency is facing mounting pressure to approve the vaccine, after the UK, Canada, Bahrain and the US authorised the jab in recent weeks. The agency is expected to make a decision by 29 December.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in