BerlinGermany will become a lot less social starting Monday, 2 November. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country's 16 states agreed to a new lockdown that will leave schools and daycares open but close theatres and limit bars and restaurants to take-out only.
The measures will begin on Monday and last through the month of November, though Merkel promised to review the progress of the new restrictions in two weeks. The hope is to allow families and friends to see each other during the holidays.
"It is entirely clear that we have to take action and now," Chancellor Merkel said in a video press conference following her video meeting with the state premieres. "It's a tough day for political decision-makers because, and I want to be clear, we know what we're asking people to do."
The Robert Koch Institute, the government's disease specialist, on Wednesday said it recorded nearly 15,000 new cases, the most ever as the pandemic accelerates in Germany. Although hospitals continue to have plenty of capacity, swiftly rising occupancy rates have officials worried – politicians were told during the summit with Chancellor Merkel that that figure would jump to 28,000 in days with no action, German media reported.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz promised up to €10bln in support for businesses affected by the new lockdown with simple application procedures.
The new measures:
- Members of no more than two households can meet in public, while private gatherings are discouraged.
- Restaurants, bars and pubs will be limited to food take-out and delivery. All entertainment venues, from theatres to amusement parks, and cinemas to sex work facilities must close.
- Recreational and amateur sports facilities must close as well and Bundesliga and other professional games will be played in empty stadiums.
- Schools and kindergartens will remain open.
- Shops would stay open too, but only one customer per 10 sq m of shop space at a time.
- People will be advised against tourism and non-essential travel, and the ban on domestic tourist accommodation within Germany (Beherbergungsverbot) would be upheld.
- Rapid tests will be reserved for care homes and hospitals, which should receive extra protection to guard against infection but also to ensure they do not become isolated.