On Wednesday, October 28, Angela Merkel announced a new partial lockdown across Germany’s 16 states. The restrictions, coming into effect this Monday, November 2, are the toughest to be announced since March.
Lasting for four weeks until the end of November, the extensive measures were announced on the day that the Robert Koch Institute reported Germany’s highest daily increase of coronavirus cases – over 15,000 – since the pandemic began.
The restrictions were agreed during a video conference with ministers from the 16 states, before being announced at a press conference by the Chancellor herself.
Acknowledging the “frustration” that both the pandemic and the new restrictions bring, Merkel vowed to review the progress of the new measures after two weeks. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz also pledged up to €10 billion in financial aid for businesses impacted by the new lockdown.
- No more than 10 people from two different households can meet in public; private gatherings are discouraged
- Where possible, employees should work from home
- Overnight stays for tourism purposes remain prohibited
- Recreational and indoor sports must stop
- All cultural and entertainment venues including theatres, cinemas, clubs, concert halls and opera houses
- Restaurants, pubs and bars can remain open for delivery and collection of food only
- Amusement parks, arcades, casinos, brothels and betting shops
- Public recreation centres such as gyms, fitness studios, swimming pools and saunas
- Cosmetic studios, tattoo parlours and massage practices
What’s remaining open:
- Schools and daycare centres
- Shops, although with a limited capacity of one customer per 10 square metres (108 square feet)
- Hair salons
- Physiotherapy practices
- Borders, though international travel is discouraged
What’s still permitted:
- Church services and protests, largely due to constitutional concerns
- Nursing home residents receiving visitors
- Travel for business purposes
- Professional sporting events, but without spectators
Lawmakers and businesses impacted hardest by the new restrictions have vocalised scepticism regarding the legitimacy of some the new measures announced.
Berlin’s Yorck Kinogruppe wrote on Twitter that “no Covid-19 outbreak has been traced back to cinemas. Not in Germany, not in Europe, not on Earth”, before inviting audiences to its cinemas for one last time this weekend.
As Merkel revealed in her press conference, however, current limitations of Germany’s track and trace system mean that 75 percent of new infections cannot be traced. Without such stringent measures, she added, the country’s health system would be overwhelmed “within a few weeks”.
“The winter will be difficult” she admitted. “But it will end.”