Germany plans to extend lockdown restrictions amid rising COVID cases

Published on : Monday, March 22, 2021

According to a latest draft document prepared by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office ahead of a government meeting, Germany is planning to extend and tighten partial lockdown restrictions into April amid soaring new cases of COVID-19 infections. National leaders will be gathering to decide on the next round of measures to contain the pandemic further. On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute informed that the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 13,733 to 2,659,516, and the reported death toll has risen by 99 to 74,664.

At the last meeting of the leaders earlier this month, a cautious opening of the country was agreed upon, overriding the objections of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said more infectious variants had made the pandemic hard to control. Germany began to slowly ease restrictions by allowing to open schools in late February and permitting some shops to resume business in March.

However, the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases said the number of cases per 100,000 population over a week stood at 103.9 on Sunday, above the 100 thresholds at which intensive care units will start running out of capacity. Therefore, the latest meeting that initially planned to discuss relaxation of restrictions completely changed its agenda and will now discuss the extension of COVID-19 restrictions.

The draft states that lockdown should continue until April 18 and that an emergency brake agreed at the last meeting will be applied to halt any further cautious opening measures in areas that exceed 100 cases per 100,000 individuals. The proposal also mentioned possible evening curfews for areas with high case numbers, though a precise curfew time was not mentioned.

The latest draft would also tighten obligations on companies and those who were unable to offer their employees the option of working from home would have to provide them with one COVID-19 test each week, or two if sufficient supplies were available. A previous proposal, circulated by the Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, mentioned that all returning travellers would face quarantine, even if they had not been in a coronavirus risk zone. The proposed plan has been placed in brackets in the latest draft, meaning it is still under discussion.

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