Covid-19: Germany heads into lockdown and imposes 'toughest restrictions seen yet' as cases surge

Chancellor Angela Merkel will impose the toughest restrictions on Germany as the nation heads into lockdown.

The one-month partial shutdown, which will go into effect on Monday, is designed to keep most businesses operating, Merkel said Wednesday after tense talks with the leaders of the country’s 16 states. Officials will gather again in two weeks to assess the impact of the measures.

“Today is a difficult day, for policy makers as well,” Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin as she called for a concerted national effort to fight the pandemic. “We know what we’re demanding of the people.”

Germany will require restaurants and bars to close and sports teams will continue to play in empty arenas despite talks of letting fans back in.

Theaters, gyms and cosmetic studios will also shut but supermarkets, stores, schools and day care centers will remain open.

“We are in a very serious situation,” Merkel said.

“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.

“Within weeks we will reach the limits of our health system,” Ms. Merkel said at a news conference, after she reached agreement with Germany’s 16 governors on the nationwide measures, which she conceded were hard, but necessary.

“It is completely clear that we must act, and act now to prevent a national health crisis.”


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